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Can Contested Divorce be Withdrawn in India?

Marriages go through ups and downs, and sometimes a divorce petition may be filed in haste or anger. However, even after filing for a contested divorce in India, the petitioner may change their mind and want to withdraw the petition. This is legally allowed under certain circumstances.

If the petitioner has filed for divorce but the papers have not yet been served to the respondent, the petitioner can simply write to the court stating their desire to withdraw the petition. As long as the withdrawal request is processed before the papers are served, the court will allow it.

However, if the respondent has already been served the divorce papers and has filed a reply or counter-petition, then withdrawing the divorce unilaterally becomes difficult. For instance, Ramesh files for contested divorce from his wife Sunita on grounds of cruelty. Before Sunita receives the court notice, Ramesh has a change of heart and writes to the court requesting to withdraw his petition. The court will allow this.

But if Sunita has already received the notice and filed her reply denying the allegations, Ramesh cannot withdraw the petition unilaterally anymore. Now withdrawal requires mutual consent. Ramesh and Sunita will have to file a joint application in court, signed by both parties, requesting dismissal of the divorce proceedings. The court will then pass orders accordingly.

If only Ramesh requests withdrawal at this stage, the court will list the matter for hearing and seek Sunita’s views. If Sunita opposes withdrawal, the court may not allow it.

Similarly, if Sunita had filed a counter-petition for divorce based on desertion by Ramesh, then even if Ramesh withdraws his main petition, Sunita’s counter-petition will survive as an independent divorce case. For a complete withdrawal, her counter-petition will also need to be dismissed through a joint application.

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In all cases, it is advisable for the petitioner to keep the respondent informed if they wish to withdraw the divorce petition. Open communication and good faith between parties smoothens the process and avoids further conflicts. The court will also consider if any reconciliation efforts were made by parties before allowing withdrawal.

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