American lawyers are increasingly being called upon to handle cases of physical abuse and messy divorces involving NRI couples.
By Amy Jones, Legal Writer
More than 3 million people of Indian origin have made the United States of America their home. These Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) have not completely severed ties with the land of their birth and visit it regularly for making financial investments or arranging marriages. While this is helpful in maintaining a bond with their country of origin, it has also given rise to some problems.
The past few years have witnessed a sharp increase in problems related to NRI marriages. A look at some of the questions posted in Avvo’s online legal forum makes it evident that lawyers in the US now have to provide counsel for such issues; they are increasingly handling cases of physical abuse and messy divorces involving NRI couples. Below, you will find a list of some common problems associated with such weddings.
6 Most-Reported NRI Marriage Problems
1. NRI Groom Abandons Wife
The term “NRI marriage” usually refers to an Indian woman getting married to an NRI man. The most common problem associated with such weddings is the abandonment of the bride by the NRI groom. Many times this happens immediately after the honeymoon; the term “honeymoon bride” is used for women who were left by their husbands even before they could even visit the United States. In some Indian regions, the problem is so grave that the regional authorities are starting special initiatives to hunt down the offending NRI grooms. According to the Indian news portal, ndtv.com, the Indian external affairs minister announced earlier this year that a website for posting legal summons to guilty NRI husbands will be launched soon.
2. NRI Groom Physically Abuses his Bride
Another serious problem of NRI marriages is the physical abuse that the bride has to face at the hands of her husband – and sometimes by his entire family after she moves to the U.S. NRIs with malicious intent can threaten the women with physical violence and demand additional dowry from her parents. The domestic violence can be in the form of physical assault and battery and/or mental abuse. The issue has become so serious that the Indian government’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) website has listed the preventive measures and precautions that women must take. It also mentions the help that can be provided to them by Indian embassies or consulates in case they are being victimized by their spouses.
3. NRI Husband is Already Married
A lot of Indian women have to go through the traumatic experience of discovering that their spouse is already married to another woman. In some instances, the man was forced to marry the Indian woman by his family and as soon as they return to the NRI’s home country, he leaves her for his first wife. There are numerous cases of NRI men wilfully committing the crime of polygamy and marrying the woman by hiding the truth about their first marriage. In order to prevent this issue from occurring, legal experts advise people to ask for an affidavit from the NRI man clearly stating his present marital status which can also be used as a legal tool if and when such a problem arises after the marriage.
4. NRI Groom Lies about his Financial and Immigration Status
The attraction of settling in a comparatively prosperous foreign country drives many parents to marry their daughters to NRI men settled in the USA or Canada. Unscrupulous people will take advantage of this by lying to the bride’s family about the groom’s educational qualifications, profession, and financial status. In many cases, the groom also lies about his immigration status. The government urges prospective brides and their families to verify the claims of the man and his family by asking for their passport and Visa details in addition to an identification issued by the government of his country of residence – like USA’s Social Security Number or Canada’s Social Insurance Number.
5. NRI Husband Acquiring Ex-Parte Divorce
Another issue in NRI marriages is when the NRI husband either takes advantage of lenient legal regulations or fraudulently acquires an ex-parte divorce, perhaps by forging his wife’s consent to divorce. This is a form of abandonment, and many Indian women – who do not speak English well, are unfamiliar with local laws, or who lack funds to hire a lawyer – are left helpless in a foreign land by their husbands in this manner. The government of India provides legal and financial aid to women who have been deserted by their NRI husbands through its embassies and consulates in many countries. An amount of $4,000 per case is provided in about 13 countries through empaneled legal counsel of the applicant or an NGO/recognized welfare organization.
6. Problems Related to Custody of Children
Indian women in an unhappy marriage with an NRI also have to face problems regarding custody of their children. There are numerous cases where the husband has unilaterally removed the child from his/her country of habitual residence while leaving the wife behind. This international parental child abduction, which violates the wife’s custody rights, leads to emotional and mental anguish and a prolonged legal battle for her. The Indian government helps women in resolving this issue also by providing legal assistance through its embassies or other equivalent offices.
Experts advise women looking to marry an NRI man to exercise caution and verify his background by conducting background checks (perhaps with the aid of a private investigator) and solemnizing the marriage only after being satisfied that the man is who he says he is, that he is legally free to marry, and that he is not facing any criminal or civil charges.
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