In Christianity it is believed that God hates divorce. Therefore, Christian personal law does not permit Divorce generally. Nevertheless, Christian divorce is possible on limited grounds. The procedure for filing a Christian divorce or How to file a Christian Divorce in Bangladesh has been discussed below along with the procedure relating to other kinds of separation options available to end a Christian marriage.

Christian Divorce procedure

In Bangladesh, the provisions for the dissolution of Christian marriage by order of the court were included in the Divorce Act of 1869.  Divorce in Christian marriage cannot be induced by a declaration of divorce by either side or by mutual agreement, except by a court order. The steps for How to file a Christian Divorce are as follows:

Step 1

Under the provisions of this Act, any husband may make a petition to the District Judge’s court or to the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh for the dissolution of his marriage on the ground that his wife is guilty of adultery. Likewise, any woman can make such a petition to either court for the dissolution of her marriage on any of the following grounds:

 (i) I that the husband, after marriage, has converted to any religion other than Christianity and has married another woman;

(ii) that the husband is guilty of incestuous adultery;

(iii) that the husband is guilty of adultery with bigamy;

(iv) that the husband is guilty of marriage with another woman and adultery;

(v) that the husband is guilty of rape, sodomy or bestiality;   

(vi) that the husband is guilty of adultery;

(vii) that the husband was guilty of adultery combined with desertion for two years or more without a reasonable excuse.

Step 2

If the court is satisfied on the basis of evidence of the alleged ground and is satisfied that the complaint is not collusive, an order for dissolution of the marriage is issued. A district judge can, subject to approval by the High Court Division, issue a decree for the dissolution of marriage nisi.

Step3

Even if a wife/husband fulfills the complicated conditions and obtains a divorce from the District Court, the decree is subject to confirmation by the High Court Division (Section 17) and such confirmation will not be given until the expiration of six months from the pronouncement of the decree. Thus, a complex procedure needs to be followed in order to obtain a Christian divorce in Bangladesh.

How the rule differs for women seeking Christian divorce

Christian personal law discriminates against women. Divorce is allowed on limited grounds for both men and women, but the grounds are far more restrictive for women. Men can divorce if they allege their wife committed adultery. Wives, on the other hand, must prove adultery and one of a range of other acts. Such acts include: conversion to another religion, bigamy, rape, sodomy, bestiality, desertion for two years, or cruelty.

How to file a Christian Divorce

Petition for dissolution of the marriage is dismissed

If the petition for dissolution of the marriage is dismissed by the district Judge, the petitioner may submit a similar petition to the High Court Division. The three judges of the High Court Division may also, by majority opinion, issue an order for the dissolution of marriage on a petition filed before the High Court Division.

Nullity of Marriage

The District Judges court or the High Court may also issue an order for the nullity of marriage on any of the following grounds:

(i) that one of the parties was powerless;

(ii) that the parties are within the forbidden degree of consanguinity or affinity;

(iii) that either party is insane at the time of marriage;

(iv) that the former husband or wife of either party existed at the time of marriage, and that marriage was then in effect.

Judicial Separation

Husband and wife can also seek judicial separation from either of the courts. . In the case of judicial separation the couple is still legally married but is forbidden to live and co-habit together. Section 22 and 23 of the Divorce Act 1869 deals with petition for judicial separation to the HCD or the District Court on the ground of:

  1.  adultery, or
  2.  cruelty, or
  3. desertion without reasonable excuse for two years or upwards.

 Such an order for Judicial separation may be overturned or reversed by the court when it was given in the absence of husband and wife or there was a reasonable excuse for the suspected desertion.

Restitution of conjugal rights

 When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse withdrawn from the society of the other, either wife or husband may apply for restitution of conjugal rights. This has to be done by petition to the District Court or the High Court Division, for restitution of conjugal rights. The Court may decree restitution of conjugal rights if satisfied that:

  1.  The statements made in such petition is true,  and
  2.  that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted.

Nothing shall be pleaded in answer to a petition for restitution of conjugal rights which would not be a ground for a suit for judicial separation or for a decree of nullity of marriage.

Damages and cost of petition

Any husband may, either in a petition for dissolution of marriage or for judicial separation, claim damages from any person on the ground of his having committed adultery with the wife of such petitioner. Such petition shall be served on the alleged adulterer and the wife unless the Court dispenses with such service, or directs some other service to be substituted.

Whenever in any petition presented by a husband, the alleged adulterer has been made a co-respondent, and the adultery has been established, the Court may order the co-respondent to pay the whole or any part of the cost of the proceedings. However, the co-respondent shall not be ordered to pay the petitioner’s cost,

(1) if the respondent was, at the time of the adultery, living apart from her husband and leading the life of a prostitute, or

(2) if the co-respondent had not, at the time of the adultery, reason to believe the respondent to be a married woman.

Final Say

Christians have the right to dissolve their marriage if it is impossible to continue the relationship under The Divorce Act 1869. But the right given to the wife is complicated to get by legal procedure. So to ensure equality it must be liberalized. if you want to know more about the topic please visit.

Legal Advice regarding Christian divorce by CLP:

The Barristers, Advocates, and lawyers at CLP in Gulshan, Dhaka, Bangladesh are highly experienced at assisting clients through the entire process and  legal provisions relating to filing Christian divorce in Bangladesh . For any queries or legal assistance, please reach us at:E-mail: info@counselslaw.com
Phone:+8801700920980. +8801947470606. Address: House 39, Road 126 (3rd Floor) Islam Mansion, Gulshan 1, Dhaka.

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