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Suit for declaration of a matrimonial status before the family court

By: Shivendra Pratap Singh
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What is the jurisdiction of family court and can I file suit for declaration of matrimonial status? 

Suit for declaration of marital status can be filed before the family court. The Family Courts Act 1984 empowers the family court, constituted under this act, to decide and declare about the matrimonial status of a person.

Before passing of this Act, the District Court and Magistrate have jurisdiction to decide various matter related to matrimonial disputes. There was no uniformity and cognisance were taken by more than one courts. Litigants were very confused to find appropriate court because some disputes are mixed case of civil and criminal nature.

After enforcement of the Family Courts Act 1984, there is uniformity in matrimonial cases. Section 7 deals with the jurisdiction of the Family Court and section 8, on the other hand, excludes the jurisdiction of other courts if the case is pending before the family court.

According to section 7, the family court has exclusive jurisdiction in respect of these matters:

  1. Decree of nullity of marriage.
  2. Restitution of conjugal rights.
  3. Judicial separation.
  4. Dissolution of marriage or Divorce.
  5. Declaration as to the validity of the marriage.
  6. Declaration of the matrimonial status of a person.
  7. The dispute regarding property between the parties to a marriage.
  8. Pass an injunction order in respect of marital relationship.
  9. Declaration as to the legitimacy of a person.
  10. Suit for maintenance under section 24/25 Hindu marriage act and u/s 125 of the code of criminal procedure.
  11. Admit a suit about guardianship of the child.
  12. Suit for custody of the child.

In your case, you can file a suit before the family court for the declaration of marital status. If the family court is constituted in your district, you can present such suit directly before the family court because the family court has exclusive jurisdiction. In the absence of family court, you can file a civil lawsuit before the court of District judge.

The wife can file a case under section 125 of the code of criminal procedure, for the maintenance. If a matrimonial case is pending before the family court, the application for alimony u/s 125 may be filed before the family court instead of Magistrate court.

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