Friday, June 27, 2008

Family court

From "Aunty":
"This morning [Thursday], Mary and I went to the family court to check out on divorce proceedings. we met a social worker named Ranjini who works for an NGO and has a permanent table just outside the family courtroom. We explained to her the situation that Mary is presently in. She advised us of the basic procedures. Mary needs to take some proof of their marriage. She only has one family photograph---for the time being that should be sufficient---to prove they are husband and wife. She will help Mary write an application to file for divorce. Normally, the women are asked to press for maintenance (alimony), in which case, an out-of-court reconciliatory meeting is held as procedure first, before the matter is actually taken up in court. If both parties seek divorce mutually, then the process is swift and easy. If husband refuses to agree to the divorce, then the matter will have to be fought out in the family court and may take some time to settle. She will be provided with a lawyer by the court who will take care of the case on her behalf, free. The appointment of lawyer will be made after 10 days from her application to file.

She will be going to meet Ranjini at 10 am tomorrow morning with the photograph and write out an application as step one. She will guide her throughout thereafter. Her phone number is also a helpline number for women. I think she helps women who need shelter and any other legal help. It would be interesting to learn more about women's issues from her. I will try and meet her again next week and be with Mary as far as possible during the case."

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Today, Mary met Ranjini again, who helped her with the application and then introduced her to a lawyer. She indicated that she wanted no alimony from her husband, just to be free of him. In the process, Aunty and Mary learned that husband is still behind bars, as nobody has posted his bail (2,000 rupees). They requested that the police notify them if he is freed, for Mary's safety.