Mere Long Separation Due to Job Posting Not Proof of Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage: Allahabad High Court

Allahabad High Court: Separation Due to Job Posting Not Sufficient for DivorceAllahabad High Court: Separation Due to Job Posting Not Sufficient for Divorce In a recent ruling, the Allahabad High Court denied a man’s plea for divorce based solely on his claim of living separately from his wife for 25 years due to his job posting. The court emphasized that separation alone, even for an extended period, does not automatically imply an irretrievable breakdown of marriage. According to the court, the Supreme Court has not established a hard and fast rule that separation for any length of time warrants a presumption of irretrievable breakdown. Rather, it is only in cases where one party has voluntarily deserted the other for a significant period, and other circumstances indicate a lack of substance in the marriage, that a conclusion of irretrievable breakdown can be reached. The court acknowledged that the marriage may have encountered difficulties, but stressed that the mere fact of separation cannot be the sole basis for determining its irretrievable breakdown. The husband’s allegations of cruelty against his wife, including preventing him from visiting his parents’ home, were found to be vague and unsubstantiated by specific details, witnesses, or documentary evidence. The court also noted that the wife’s decision to remain with her mother-in-law until her death did not constitute abandonment of her husband. The husband had argued that the matrimonial relationship had become a “legal tie” with no real substance. However, the court held that faith and hope in the marriage had survived and that there was no evidence to suggest otherwise. Therefore, the court dismissed the husband’s appeal and upheld the family court’s decision to reject his divorce petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The Allahabad High Court recently denied a man’s plea for divorce, who claimed that he had lived separately from his wife for 25 years owing to his job posting. The man said that their marital relationship showed no signs of being able to be revived, indicating it was irretrievably broken down.

A bench of Justices Saumitra Dayal Singh and Donadi Ramesh said that the decisions of the Supreme Court do not lay down a rule of thumb that the marriage may be presumed to be irretrievably broken down if the parties have suffered separation for any length of time.

Only where one of the parties is seen to have voluntarily deserted the other and parties have continued in that status for a long time then in view of the other attending circumstances as may indicate to the court that there is no substance in the marriage, a conclusion may be reached that the marriage has been irretrievably broken down, it said.

The court emphasised that “troubled as the marriage may have been and ordinary a relationship between the spouses may remain, it is not for the court to reach a positive conclusion that the personal relationship between the parties has irretrievably broken down solely for the reason of the length of separation suffered”.

The man appealed the family court’s judgment that rejected his divorce petition filed under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The couple got married in 1999, and initially lived with the husband’s parents. Soon after, the husband’s father passed away, and the husband received a compassionate appointment, necessitating his relocation. The wife remained with her mother-in-law until her passing.

Before the high court, the man’s counsel argued that the wife had been cruel to her husband by preventing him from visiting his parental home, exhibiting abusive and aggressive behavior on multiple occasions, failing to inform him of his mother’s death, assaulting him at the cremation site during his mother’s funeral, and through various other actions.

Besides this, the counsel contended that the marriage between the couple had broken down irretrievably as they had been living separately since 1999. Therefore, stressing that the matrimonial relationship between the couple was only a legal tie and there was no real substance in the same, the counsel pressed for the divorce.


The high court observed that the husband’s allegations were vague and lacked specific details such as dates, times, or locations. Moreover, the husband did not present any independent witnesses or documentary evidence to substantiate claims of cruelty, especially to a degree that would convince the court to dissolve the marriage.

The high court agreed that the family court rightly dismissed the husband’s case. It emphasised that the wife did not abandon the husband; rather, he had to leave home for a job.

Therefore, in absence of the ancillary or attending circumstances shown to establish that the marriage between the parties had irretrievably broken down, the high court held that the faith and hope in the marriage has survived and accordingly, it dismissed the husband’s appeal.


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