NRI Divorce Laws: Jurisdiction And Applicable Regulations

If you are a married couple and the marriage is not working out well enough, or there are some other marital problems, then either the husband or the wife can file a petition in an appropriate jurisdiction seeking divorce in India.

India is home to millions of married couples and this includes NRI couples too. If you are an NRI or know someone looking for NRI divorce advice from law firms in Chandigarh or elsewhere in India, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, we are going to discuss NRI Divorce laws – their jurisdiction and applicable regulations. 

NRI Marriages: The Basics

In the loosest sense of the term, NRI couple means – one partner who is an Indian citizen but resides outside India and the other partner is an Indian from India. The criteria here are the same as normal marriage, where the bridegroom should be of 21 years and the groom must have attained 18 years. Like normal divorce in India, NRI divorces are also of two types: one is mutual divorce and another is contested divorce.

First, we must know about the documents needed for the happening of an NRI marriage. They are as follows :

  1. Application form signed by husband and wife.
  2. Evidence of date of birth.
  3. Proof of residence.
  4. Affidavit by both the parties, stating place and date of marriage, date of birth, marital status at the time of marriage and nationalities.
  5. Passport-size photographs of both and one marriage photograph.
  6. Marriage invitation card, if available. Certificate from the priest who solemnized the marriage.
  7. Certificate of conversion if either party is a convert, from the priest who solemnised the marriage.
  8. Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other with the prohibited degree of relationship.
  9. Attested copy of the divorce decree, if applicable.
  10. Death certificate of spouse if a partner is a widow or widower.

Regulations For NRI Marriage Laws

NRI marriages are usually done under the Hindu Marriage Act and The Special Marriage Act in India. The Hindu Marriage Act applies to Hindus Jains or Sikhs and Buddhists. Whereas, the Special Marriage Act applies to marriages that do not have religious restrictions. The rules for registration of the marriage are given under the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Bill, 2019.   


There are different procedures for registration of an NRI marriage :

  • Religious Marriage Ceremony for NRI Marriage Registration – A religious NRI marriage registration and divorce in India usually has around 6 guidelines for various religions and their specific laws like – Hindu Marriage Act, Christian Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act, Parsee Marriage and Divorce Act for the Parsee.
  • Civil Marriage Ceremonies in India for NRI Marriage Registration – Parties who don’t wish to get married in a religious ceremony can decide to get married in a civil ceremony indicated by the Indian Special Marriage Act of 1954.  

Common Reasons For NRI Divorce

Some of the common issues relating to NRI marriage that eventually lead to NRI divorce in India are :

  1.  After the solemnization of marriage, the husband returns back to his foreign country leaving his wife behind in India. The husband never gets back to his wife or he never calls or writes to his wife. Neither does he send flight tickets to his wife which he promised. The in-laws in India would plead helplessness or flatly refuse to help the innocent girl.
  2. Domestic violence which the wife faces after reaching the foreign country both mentally and physically and malnourished by her husband in various ways is one of the most discussed reasons for NRI divorce in India.
  3. Sometimes it happens that after reaching the foreign country the wife discovers that the husband is already married and continues to live with his first wife. He has only done that marriage due to his family’s pressure and to please them or sometimes even to use her as domestic help or to extract money from the bride’s side.
  4. Also, sometimes the wife and her family in India are held for ransom and they are blackmailed till they pay them a huge amount of money including giving them properties.

Jurisdiction for Divorce of an NRI Marriage

Generally, it is said that the married couple who are seeking divorce can file a divorce petition within the appropriate jurisdiction of the courts in which the parties to the marriage last resided. When the party decides to file the divorce petition, they do so within the power given to them by Indian law.

Mutual Consent Divorce

When a divorce petition is filed and both husband and wife mutually agree that they are going to dissolve the marriage then it has to follow the country’s law where they are residing, Indian laws will not be applicable in this situation. Then the country’s court passes a decree related to the divorce according to their procedure.

Indian Court Will Recognise Foreign Judgments of Divorce or Not?

If the Indian courts find out that the judgement given by the foreign court is inconclusive under sec 13 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), only then will it not recognise the foreign court’s judgement. This means that the decree :

  • Is not pronounced by a court of competent jurisdiction,
  • Has not been given on the merits of the case,
  • Was obtained opposing the principle of natural justice,
  • Has been obtained by fraud,
  • A claim founded on a breach of any law which is in force in India.
  • Or the situation is such that Indian law should have applied but has been refused by that foreign court.

After the filing of a petition for divorce in India, it will follow the procedure that is followed in normal divorce cases.

NRI Divorce Procedure

The divorce procedure in India for NRIs has six different stages, which are :

  1.   Filing of the petition in an appropriate jurisdiction.
  2.   Summon is served,
  3.   Response from defendant,
  4.   Trial,
  5.   Interim orders &
  6.   Final order from the court.


In conclusion, we can say that there are different laws that the petitioner can use while filing the divorce petition in the appropriate jurisdiction for NRI divorce in India. However, it is important to understand that divorce can be a messy affair, and hence contested NRI divorces can be avoided using mediation between the parties thanks to laws like the Mediation Bill 2021.

Hence, it is always a good idea to have a lawyer from Lex Solutions on your side for legal advice regarding NRi divorce.


1. What does NRI mean?

NRI (Non-Resident Indian) means a person who is a resident of India but stays out of India or abroad.

2. Which is the most common NRI divorce law?

Most NRI couples are married in India under The Special Marriage Act, of 1954. Hence it can be called the most common NRI divorce law too.

3. Which is the best law firm in Chandigarh?

Lex Solutions is the best law firm in the city of Chandigarh.

4. Do I need a lawyer for a mutual NRI divorce?

Yes, no matter which kind of divorce you have as an NRI, having a lawyer will ease the process and in some countries, is mandatory.

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