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Now, it’s divorce.com

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Now, it’s divorce.com
Family court statistics reveal that a large percentage of marriages conceived over mouse clicks are collapsing…

Vani S, a Hyderabad-based senior lawyer, instinctively recognises a ‘dotcom couple’ when they walk into her office in the leafy suburb of Vidyanagar. More often than not, they follow a predictable pattern, she says – first it’s the proverbial ‘chat mangni, pat byaah’ and then, increasingly, a ‘pat desperation for divorce’. Civil lawyers reiterate Vani’s observation with startling statistics: marriages conceived over mouse clicks, they say, have accounted for 40 to 50 per cent of fresh divorce applications filed in the family courts over the last two years.

But it’s not just Hyderabad – the disenchantment with ‘netrimony’ is a new urban marriage reality that family courts across major metros seem to be waking up to. According to lawyers, such separations – triggered by reasons ranging from a falsified website profile to incompatibility – account for a substantial chunk of the divorce applications filed every day.

Leading the trend is Delhi. “Of the approximately 100 matrimonial disputes listed daily in each of the five family courts, at least 50 involve couples who found their match online,” says V K Singh, managing partner, Leges Juris Associates , New Delhi. In the country’s IT hub Bangalore, where software couples account for eight out of ten separation cases, lawyers say at least 25 to 35 per cent are now such marriages. At Chennai’s three family courts, where 40 to 50 fresh divorce applications are filed every day, a good ten of them (25 per cent) reportedly involve netrimony. In Mumbai, while some lawyers peg such cases at around 15 to 20 per cent, others say the situation is “chaotic”. Kolkata too is recording the trend, but lawyers here say it isn’t as widespread as in other cities.

While these are a-drop-in-the-ocean figures for matrimonial websites that claim to have made over a million matches, the failure rate is visible enough for lawyers to suggest that thorough scans of families should be a must in marriages arranged over wedding portals. “The problem does not lie in the portals, which merely provide people a platform to meet, but in the users, who are predominantly young and, well, also restless to find a partner,” says a lawyer. And it is this restlessness that possibly blinds them to the dangers of falsified identity and sham claims which flourish on the Net.

A cursory look at some divorce cases reveals that many of them are about lies posted on websites. Vani recollects the case of a Hyderabadbased girl who flaunted her medals and scholarships to a prospective groom, who strictly wanted a working wife. “After marriage, when she made no move to look for a job, he realised that she had none of the claimed qualifications,” says Vani. Suchit Palande, a lawyer and mediator in a Chennai family court, cites an almost identical case of a Chennai girl, who masqueraded as an MBA on a portal and got married to a Singapore-based man. In another instance, a man from Kota in Rajasthan posed as a CA on a website and got married to a highly educated Dehra Dun girl – who realised after marriage that her husband had nothing even remotely to do with chartered accountancy.

And then there are also the trumped-up stories on the personal front. A woman in Bangalore filed for divorce after she found that her husband was gay and had taken the online route to tackle the family pressure mounting on him to get married. Mumbai’s celebrity divorce lawyer Mrunalini Deshmukh recalls the case of a woman who posted her picture on a marriage portal and mentioned her age as 25. “Her groom met her for the first time during their wedding when she was wearing bridal make-up,” says Deshmukh. “Only after the ceremonies were over and the woman removed her make-up did he realise that she was over 40. She had posted her 24-year-old sister’s picture on the portal.”

These are, however, extreme cases. The reasons for most separations have nothing to do with discoveries made about the partner after the wedding, but are more about the “virtual” nature of feelings that are mistaken for the real thing before the two meet. “The problem is that people, while communicating over the Net, develop certain feelings even before they meet,” says Sanjanthi Sajan, a Bangalore-based advocate. And thus the meeting, after endless web chats, is in most cases a mere formality before the marriage is solemnised. The lack of common friends or relatives ensures that the two families remain oblivious to the personal traits of the bride or the groom until after marriage, says Palande.

So, why has the traditional Indian family thrown its marriage rule book to the winds? If it put the groom’s or the bride’s family through a post-9 /11 kind of security check in the past and even investigated the distant uncle’s son’s wealth before sealing the deal, why have the rules changed with netrimony? “Well, you have to understand that those who log on to these websites are empowered youngsters who earn their own money,” says Sajan. Corroborates Deshmukh, “Parents are aware that even if they discourage their financially independent children from going ahead with a certain match, it is very unlikely that their plea will be heard. The outlook on online matches thus tends to be more casual.”

The corollary, say lawyers, is that taking the decision to end such a marriage – very often sooner rather than later – is not a tough one. Shalini Bharat, professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences sums it up. “It begins with youngsters in a hurry to find a partner because of the tremendous peer pressure,” she says. “Websites enable them to find a significant other with the click of a mouse. And subsequently it’s easier to call off such marriages because parents have not been involved in the match-making process, and thus there are no larger issues to sort out between families.” And perhaps most important of all: ” India has accepted failed relationships.”

Read more: Now, it’s divorce.com – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/man-woman/Now-its-divorcecom-/articleshow/5705218.cms#ixzz1Ae8lAPCi

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