Q123. What is the Sikh attitude to divorce?
Sikhism favor family life and monogamy. The ideal family is one where there is mutual love and respect between the husband and the wife and their children and grand children if any. The Anand Marriage Act, 1909, gave a wife status equal to that of her husband. The marriage establishes a permanent relationship between the partners and there is no provision for a divorce under this Act, for the Sikh marriage (Anand Karaj) is a sacrament and not a civil contract. However, in olden times if the marriage broke down, the woman would leave her husband and go and stay with her parents. Nowadays, the partners may live separately, or apply for a divorce after some time, under the Hindu code or the civil marriage Act. At that time, it is for the court to decide to grant a divorce or not, and in case the divorce is decided by the Court, it may make a provision for the support of the woman and the custody of the children and their maintenance. The Sikhs have no Personal Law, but they are covered under the Hindu Code in India. However, in certain cases, the custom of chaddar, which implies the present of a bedsheet by a man to a woman indicating his decision to take her as his wife is legal in Punjab.
Generally, grounds like cruelty, adultery, change of religion, suffering from an incurable disease and in some cases incompatibility of temperaments are accepted by Courts for purposes of divorce. A second marriage after divorce is permissible. The remarriage of a widow or widower is encouraged in Sikhism.