By Y.SRINIVASA RAO, Principal Senior Civil Judge, Tirupati.
The glory of woman in the West is
wifehood whereas the glory of woman
in the East is motherhood.
As of 2017, over 30 million NRIs live all over the world. ‘NRI marriages are heterogeneous and problematic group, involving sensitive and intricate issues of law as well as facts’.
In a philosophical sense, a marriage is a union of two individuals as husband and wife, and is recognized by law. In Hinduism, a marriage joins two individuals for life, so that they can pursue duty (dharma), possession (artha), physical desires (kama), and ultimate spiritual release (moksha) together.
Non-Resident Indian (NRI) marriage is a family related issue and is mostly well-planned personal decision in life. The term Non-Resident Indian is a new coinage of post-independence era. In the past, Indians migrated to foreign lands for different reasons and acquired citizenship of the country of their domicile. These people are no called as Overseas Citizens of India (OCI). During British period, Indians went abroad for higher education but mostly came back to settle in India. But, after independence, started migrating for personal or professional reasons and were subjected to cross-cultural influences.
Meaning of the word ‘NRI’
The abbreviation ‘NRI’ stands for Non-Resident Indian. ”NRI” means an individual, being a citizen of India or a person of Indian origin who is resident outside India. Section 2 of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (Act 42 of 1999) (FEMA) only defines ”a person resident in India” and also define ”a person resident outside India”. But, it does not define the word ‘Non-Resident Indian’.
Meaning of the word ”PIO”
The word ‘PIO’ stands for ‘Person of Indian Origin’. It means a foreign citizen who any time held an Indian passport; or he/she or either of his/her parents or grandparents or great grandparents was born in India and was permanently resident in India or that he/she is spouse of a Indian citizen or Indian Origin.’
Meaning of the word ”OCI”
The word ‘OCI’ stands for ‘Overseas Citizens Of India’. These ‘Persons Of Indian Origin–PIOs’ are now called ‘Overseas Citizens Of India (OCI)’ as defined under Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005.
Between whom Non-Resident Indian marriage can be performed?
Non Resident Indian marriages may be between following five categories.
1. Non-resident Male and an Indian Female
2. Non-resident female and an Indian male
3. Both Indian spouses who later on migrate to a foreign land either together or separately
4. Both non-resident Indian spouses who marry under Indian marriage laws either in India or in a foreign country
5.An Indian spouse, male or female, marrying a foreign spouse under Indian marriage laws either in India or in a foreign country.
Two Contrasting issues relating NRI marriages.
1. NRI marriages are transforming the living standard and economic welfare of most families.
2. These are creating disastrous problems for many families for which there seems to be no easy remedy either in law or in civil society.
Other Issues and Challenges relating to NRI marriages:
1. Multiple marriages by NRI youths: They are leaving their wives in lurch, in many cases with children. Now, it is called as ‘ Run away marriages’, ‘Short Liaison’, ‘Holiday-Wife-Syndrome’.
2. Culture:Western Countries do not discourage splitting of marriages. Obtaining divorce in USA, Europe and foreign countries is very easy. Most of our Indian are living in those countries.
3. Leaving NRI in India:- After a short, honey moon, the husband had gone back, promising to soon send her ticket that never came. In many instances, the woman would already have been pregnant when he left and so both she and the child (who was born later) were abandoned. The husband never called or wrote and never came back again.
4. NRI wife and children are subjected to cruelty in abroad: Woman who went to her husband’s home in a foreign country only to be brutally battered, assaulted, abused both mentally and physically, ill fed, and ill-treated by him in several other ways. She was therefore either forced to flee or was forcibly sent back. NRI wife was not allowed to bring back her children along. The children were abducted or forcibly taken away from the woman.
5. Huge Dowry: Woman who was herself or whose parents were held to ransom for payment of huge sums of money as dowry, both before and after the marriage.
6. Bigamy: Woman who learnt on reaching the country of her NRI husband’s residence that he was already married in the other country to another woman, whom he continued to live with.
7. Denial of maintenance: Woman who was denied maintenance in India on the pretext that the marriage had already been dissolved by the Court in another country
8. Technical legal obstacles: NRI wife has to face obstacles related to jurisdiction of courts, service of notices or orders, or enforcement of orders.
9. Trial of criminal case held up: Woman who sought to use criminal law to punish her husband and in-laws for dowry demands and/or matrimonial cruelty and found that the trial could not proceed as the husband would not come to India and submit to the trial or respond in any way to summons, or even warrant of arrest.
10. Indian Courts have limited jurisdiction: Woman who was coaxed to travel to the foreign country of the man’s residence and get married in that country, who later discovered that Indian courts have even more limited jurisdiction in such cases.
11. VISA problems: In USA, NRI spouses on H4 or F2 visa are prohibited from any employment. Some countries impose employment restrictions on spouses of overseas Indians who are on work/student visa. According to Immigration Laws in USA, H4 dependant-visa holders are not eligible for a social security number. Without this number, the individual faces great difficulties in opening a bank account or to secure a driver’s license and cannot be gainfully employed either.
12. Fraudulent NRI marriages: 1. Broken marriage. All broken marriages are not fraudulent marriages. Here, Dowry expectation, bigamous intention, incapability of spouse to cope with mutual differences etc. 2. Fraudulent marriage. Concealment of material facts about marital status, education, age, medical/health conditions etc.
13. Citizenship: Law Commission of India in its 65th Report has proposed that the domicile of woman should be determined independently of that of husband, in conformity with the spirit of the Indian Constitution. Our Constitution does not permit dual citizenship or dual nationality except for minors where the second nationality was involuntarily acquired. Under Section 5 (1)(c) of Citizenship Act, 1955, a woman married to a citizen of India does not automatically become an Indian citizen, though she may make an application and be registered as a Citizen of India.
Child custody: Issues and Challenges:
As to child custody is concerned, in general sense, looking at the role of mother in past towards children and taking primary responsibility for their health, safety, education and overall welfare; which parents deal with mundane but necessary arrangements of their lives – clothing, haircuts, extracurricular activities, gifts for friends, doctors’ and dentists’ appointments, contact with their extended family; and mother has the best perception of the emotional needs of the children specifically female child. The local law of our country is to determine as to what is best for the welfare of the children. As per Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, children who have been “wrongfully taken” or “wrongfully retained” overseas should normally be returned promptly to their country of habitual residence. In Karan Singh Bajwa vs Jasbir Singh Sandhu And Others, CRWP No.1432 of 2012, Dt. on 3 September, 2012, in the interest of children and the family, the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab and Haryna imposed nine (9) conditions regarding NRI child custody. An issue of International children abduction is considered in this case. And it was observed that in custody and access cases, the welfare of the child whose future is at stake is of paramount consideration.
Australian State practice:- Giving importance to best interest for child welfare must be sine qua non to govern the issues relating to child custody. As to this issue, Australian State practice provide important tips in determining the welfare of the child. Some tips are:
1. When children are progressing well in a reasonable secure environment, court will require good reasons for ordering a different placement. See. Curr vs. Curr, 1979 FLR 90-611.
2. Siblings should not be separated.
3. Children’s wishes should be respected.
4. Family Law Act provides that the wishes of a child of 14 years as to custody/access will prevail unless court thinks otherwise. (Family Law Act & 64 (i) (b) Court may also give considerable weight to the wishes of the younger children who have certain degree of maturity and understanding of the situation (Schmidt vs. Schmidt, 1979 FLC 90-685).
5. Young children, especially girls are normally best placed in the care of their mother’s.
7. Generally speaking , access should be ordered as aspect of children’s welfare and not as a ‘consolation prize’ for the parents who loses custody unless, it poses, some fairly demonstrable risk to the child.
6. Examining the feasibility of invoking the provisions of Extradition Act,1962. Section 20 provides for return of any person accused of or convinced for an extradition offence, from the foreign country to India.
What Laws are applicable to NRI marriages?
1. The NRI marriages may be solemnized under either,
a). the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955,
b). the Special Marriage Act, 1954,
c). the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 or
d). any other personal law governing the spouses.
The law under which the parties have married will determine the law that will be applicable to the couple. It will also affect their children in respect of rights relating to inheritance and succession, as also the couple’s right to adopt, to be guardians or to obtain custody of children.
2. (a) Hindu Law: Under section 2 of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, it requires that both the parties who are getting married must be Hindus. So that if a non-Hindu wants to marry a Hindu under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the non-Hindu partner will have to get converted to Hinduism before their marriage can take place. This marriage can be registered under the same Act under Section 8 or even under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 under Section 15 but such registration by itself does not confer on the spouses all the rights guaranteed under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is a secular Act where religion or caste of the spouses is legally not relevant, as Section 4 has used the words “any two persons”. The concept of marriage under the Special Marriage Act is monogamous, that is union for life, dissolvable by judicial authority of law only. Even succession to the property of such persons is also not governed by their personal law i.e. by the law of the community to which the party belongs; it will be governed by Indian Succession Act, 1925.
(b) Muslim Law:– The Muslim law, on the other hand, as applied in India permits a Muslim marriage between two Muslims or between a Muslim man and a Christian/Parsi woman but not a Hindu/Budhist or Sikh woman.
(c) Christian Law: The Christian law of marriage permits a marriage between any two Christians or even a Christian and a non-Christian under it.
3. The word “Special” be dropped from the title of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and it be simply called “The Marriage Act, 1954” or “The Marriage and Divorce Act, 1954”. The suggested change will create a desirable feeling that this is the general law of India on marriage and divorce. See. Law Commission of India’s 212the Report.
4. A provision be added to the application clause in the Special
Marriage Act, 1954 that ”all inter -religious marriages except those within the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain communities, whether solemnized or registered under this Act or not shall be governed by this Act”.
5. The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, which is just an extension of The Special Marriage Act, 1954 provides that facility for an Indian national to marry abroad with another Indian national or a national of another country or with a person domiciled in another country. Under this Act, a marriage may have been solemnized in India or before a marriage officer in a foreign country. Under this Act, bigamy is void and punishable under Section 19.
5. Section 29 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 gives statutory recognition to customary marriages and divorces. This aspect is very important as far as a certain category of Indian immigrants are concerned those men who have migrated abroad from parts of rural India and have subsequently remarried after divorcing their Indian wives by pleading customary divorce. Before permanent settlement can be obtained by the Indian immigrant, who has subsequently remarried a woman of foreign origin and extraction, the immigration authorities will require evidence regarding the legal validity of the customary divorce obtained in India.
6. For the application of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 as well as Special Marriage Act, 1954, the parties must be domiciled in India at the time of marriage while the question of domicile is not relevant under The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969.
7. Every Hindu domiciled in India shall be governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and those whose marriage has been solemnized under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 would be governed by the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
8. Two situations: 1. Parties marrying under their personal law in a foreign country are governed by the law in force in that country in respect of such marriage for matrimonial relief.
2. Parties marrying in a foreign country according to the civil law of that country, relief can be claimed in India under Sub-Section (1) of Section 18 of the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969.
9. Section 17 (6) of the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 being a deeming provision, makes the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 applicable to all marriages performed under the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 for purposes of matrimonial relief.
10. A marriage solemnized under British Marriage Act, 1949, between a Muslim husband and a Hindu wife in 1966 is a foreign marriage within the meaning of Foreign Marriage Act, 1969.
11. If NRIs contract civil marriages abroad under foreign laws without solemnizing ceremonial marital customary rites simultaneously either in India or abroad nor register their marriage under any of the Indian marriage laws, such marriages do not come within the ambit of Indian law in any way.
12. But, if the NRI couple, in addition take the precaution of solemnizing their marriage under the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 in any Indian diplomatic office abroad, such a marriage can come under the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
13. Alternatively, NRI spouses may have to choose either their foreign nationality law or their domicile law abroad to resolve their marital disputes in accordance with such laws.
14. Before permanent settlement can be obtained by the Indian immigrant, who has subsequently remarried a woman of foreign origin and extraction, the immigration authorities will require evidence regarding the legal validity of the customary divorce obtained in India.
15. The Special Marriage Act, 1954 provides for a civil form of marriage, which can be availed of by any one domiciled in India irrespective of the religion, through registration as provided in Chapter II of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, by fulfilling the conditions laid down in clause (a) to (e) of Section 4 of the said Act. It is now clear that the Hindus availing of Chapter II of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 i.e. Sections 4 to 14 would be outside the pale of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
16. As was held in Mariamonia P. v Padmanabham, AIR 2001 Mad. 350, customary divorce was recognized both before and after passage of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, it is not necessary for the parties in such a case to go to Court to obtain divorce on grounds recognized by custom.
17. For the application of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 as well as Special Marriage Act, 1954, the parties must be domiciled in India at the time of marriage while the question of domicile is not relevant under The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969.
18. It was held in Vinaya Nair v. Corporation of Kochi, AIR 2006 Ker.275 that Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 has extra-territorial operation and applies to all Hindus even if they reside in different parts outside India.
19. only those Hindus having permanent residence in India will be covered by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. There cannot be a Hindu marriage between a Hindu and a Christian. See. Jacintha Kamath v. Padmanabha K., AIR 1992 Kant 372.
20. As was pointed in Sanjay Mishra v. Eveline Joe, AIR 1993 MP 54, as a Hindu marriage between a Hindu and a Christian is invalid and issuance of a certificate of marriage does not cure the invalidity.
How to use the existing legal mechanism to solve issues relating to NRI marriages.
1. Validity of NRI marriages will be decided in two ways: Generally, the under the following two ways, NRI marriages will be judged.
a). Whether a religious or civil ceremony has been observed; whether due formalities under the relevant marriage Act have been complied with. The rule is that the law of the place where the ceremony takes place (lex loci celebrationis) will be seen.
b). The rule of personal laws of parties. This is called ‘the law of domicile’. See. Apex Court ruling in Lakshmi Sanyal v. S.K. Dhar, AIR 1972 Goa 2667
Section 8(5) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 specifically lays down that failure to register a Hindu marriage does not affect its validity. The formal validity of marriage is not as vital as the essential validity to a particular society. Non-observance of any formality renders a marriage voidable only, not void.
1. The existing legislation for bilateral agreements is available on the basis of reciprocity. To say explicitly, these are, Section 44A of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, Section 3 of Maintenance Orders enforcement Act,1921 and Section 13 of CPC. These laws enable recognition and enforcement of foreign divorce decree, maintenance orders, and child custody etc.
2. In 2012, Section 10(3) of Passport Act was introduced to confiscate passports of people having suspicious marital records.
3. Initiating action under section 3 and other relevant provisions of IPC/Cr.P.C such as Section 188 Cr.P.C; Section 82 (Proclamation for person absconding ); Section 83 Cr.P.C (Attachment of property of person absconding);
4. Initiating action against parents and relatives who intentionally refuses to or feign ignorance on the whereabouts of their son, etc.
5. In the event of initiation of any criminal proceedings against the accused NRI husband or his relatives, the provisions of section 285 (3) of Criminal Procedure Code,1973 can be put into action.
6. The guidelines for initiating action may also include application of section 18 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act,1956 application for a stay on husband’s property- whether in his name or ancestral properties and the right of the women to matrimonial home which includes the right to reside with her in laws.
7. In Ajay Aggarwal v. Union of India Justice K.Ramaswamy in his separate judgment held that sanction under Section 188 is not a condition precedent to take cognizance of the offence. If need be it could be obtained before trial begins.
8. Section 188 Cr.P.C operates where an offence is committed by a citizen of India outside the country. Requirements are, therefore, 1. – commission of an offence; 2. – by an Indian citizen; and 3. – that it should have been committed outside the country.
9. Substantive law of extra-territory in respect of criminal offences is provided for by Section 4 of IPC and the procedure to inquire and try it is contained in section 188 Cr.P.C.
10. Effect of these sections is that an offence committed by an Indian citizen outside the country is deemed to have been committed in India. Proviso to Section 188 Cr.P.C. however provides the safeguard for the NRI to guard against any unwarranted harassment by directing, “that, notwithstanding anything in any of the preceding sections of this Chapter, no such offence shall be inquired into or tried in India except with the previous sanction of the Central Government”.
11. Since the proviso begins with a non obstante clause its observance is mandatory. But it would come into play only if the principal clause is applicable, namely, it is established that an offence as defined in Clause (n) of Section 2 of the Cr.P.C. has been committed and it has been committed outside the country. See. Vijaya Saradhi Vajja vs Devi Sriropa Madapati And Anr., 2007 CriLJ 636.
12. Section 44 of Evidence Act:- This section gives to any party to a suit or proceeding the right to show that the judgment which is relevant under Section 41″ was delivered by a court not competent to deliver it, or was obtained by fraud or collusion”. Fraud, in any case bearing on jurisdictional facts, vitiates all judicial acts whether in rem or in personam. See. R. Viswanathan vs Rukn-Ul-Mulk Syed Abdul Wajid, (1963) 3 SCR 22 at p. 42. It was held: “a judgment of a foreign court to be conclusive between the parties must be a judgment pronounced by a court of competent-‘ jurisdiction and competence contemplated by Section 13 of the Code of. Civil Procedure is in an international sense and not merely by the law of foreign State in which the Court delivering judgment functions”.
13. What, if a foreigner commits offence within India? It is implicit under Section 3 of the Penal Code that a foreigner who commits an offence within India is guilty and can be punished as such without any limitation as to his corporeal presence in India at the time. For if it were not so, the legal fiction implicit in the phrase “as if such act had been committed within India” in Section 3 would not have been limited to the supposition that such act had been committed within India, but would have extended also a fiction as to his physical presence at the time in India. See. Mobarik Ali Ahmed Vs. State of Bombay, 1957 AIR 857, 1958 SCR 328.
There is no legislative law in India compared to ‘Private International Law.
There is no legislative law in India compared to ‘Private International Law’ or Conflict of Laws as in some western countries. In family and marriage cases involving NRI spouses, Our Indian Courts interprets and rely upon
1. Sections 13 and 14 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908;
2. Section 44 A of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
Sections 13 and 14 CPC deal with the competence to adjudicate and jurisdiction of a foreign Court as to their conclusiveness, Section 44-A CPC deals with presumption of a decree by a foreign Court for its execution.
Section 13 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 is the part of procedural law followed in Indian Courts. It concerns with recognition of the foreign decree only. The decree holder has to proceed before an Indian Court by filing a regular suit as the first stage of the enforcement proceedings. The Court after hearing the suit proceedings, may pass a judgment for its enforcement through an execution petition. Thus, a foreign decree is converted into a domestic judgment for its enforcement.
Section 14 lays presumptions as to Foreign Judgments. The Court shall presume upon the production of any document purporting to be a certified copy of a foreign judgment, that such judgment was pronounced by a Court of competent jurisdiction, unless the contrary appears on
Section 44-A CPC deals with the execution of decrees passed by courts in reciprocating territory. Where a certified copy of a decree of any of the superior courts of any reciprocating territory has been filed in a District Court, the decree may be executed in India as if it had been passed by the District Court.
In Vishwanathan v. Abdul Wajid, AIR 1963 SC 1-58, it was observed that a foreign judgment is conclusive as to any matter thereby adjudicated upon and cannot be impeached for any error either (1) of fact; or (2) of law”. Thus, a foreign judgment can be examined from the point of view of competence but not of errors. Hence, the Indian Court cannot go into the merits of the original claim.
In Gour Gopal Roy v. Sipra Roy, AIR 1978 Cal 163, the Apex court, as to section 44 A of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 that mere production of a Photostat copy of a decree of foreign Court is not sufficient. It is required to be certified by a representative of the Central Government in America.
In Rajiv Tayal v. Union of India and Others, (2005) 124 DLT 502. is another judgment, which shows that the wife also has an available remedy under Section 10 of the Passport Act 1967 for impounding and/or revocation of the passport of her NRI husband if he failed to respond to the summons by the Indian Courts.
In Venkat Perumal v. State of AP, (1998) II DMC 523. is a judgment passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in an application filed by an NRI husband for quashing of the proceedings of the wife’s complaint in Hyderabad under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 against matrimonial cruelty meted out to her. The Court rejected the plea of NRI husband.
Latest case-law on NRI marriage issues:
1. Marriage held in India. Wife was tortured in Abroad: NRI husband married a woman in India and subjected her to cruelty in abroad. The Superior Court declined quash the FIR. See. Satnam Puri And Anr vs State Of Punjab And Anr Judgment dated 15 September, 2014.
2. In 1994, Dhanwanti Joshi Vs. Madhav Unde the wife found the husband in abroad with his first wife. Then, she left her husband and returned to India. Hon’ble Supreme Court held that their child, who is 35 days old, shall stay under the custody of the mother subject to visitation rights. Here, the loophole of NRI marriage was marrying the second time without telling the second wife.
3. Smt. Seema Vs. Aswini Kumar, Tr. P. (C) No. 291 of 2005, Judgment dt. 14-02-2006, the Supreme Court of India issued certain directions to the Central and the State Governments.
– Marriages of Indian citizens should compulsorily be registered.
– The procedure for registration should be notified by the States within three months
It is incumbent upon the States to provide for registration of NRI marriages taking place in India.
4. In 2010, as seen from the Mrs Rachna Shah’s case, she was married NRI residing in Singapore. She found that her husband was not an Engineer, which he claimed earlier, but husband was employed in an insignificant temporary job. She was tortured in abroad. However, after suffering a great deal at his hands, she was finally saved by local police and she was taken to the Indian Embassy and sent back to India.
5. Recently, in 2017, Chepuri Hanumantha Raio, S/O Late … vs Chepuri Uma Bala, CRIMINAL REVISION CASE No.79 OF 2016 , Judgment dated 27 February, 2017. Maintenance for NRI divorce wife has been discussed in the light of Apex Court Badsha’s case. Section 18 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, sections 125 and 127 of Cr.P.C were discussed.
6. Venkat Perumal v State of Andhra Pradesh, the Hon’ble High Court declined to quash the criminal proceedings against NRI husband holding the the offence under section 498-A IPC is a continous offence.
7. The Supreme Court had shown concerns regarding this through its judgment, in cases like Neeraja Sharaph vs. Jayant V. Saraph and has emphasised the need to consider legislative safeguarding of the interests of women and also suggested the following specific provisions:
1. Marriage between an NRI and an Indian woman which has taken place in India may not be annulled by any foreign court.
2. In the case of divorce, adequate alimony should be paid to the wife out of the property of the husband.
3. The decree of Indian court should be made executable in foreign courts both on the principle of comity by entering into reciprocal agreements and notify them under section 44A of the Civil Procedure Code which talk about binding nature of foreign decree i.e.; it is executable as it would have been a decree passed by that court.
It must be recognized that failure of NRI marriages may be due to a variety of reasons and that both men as well as women are responsible for such failures. The absolving of all women from blame is unjustified. The notion that every case of abandoned bride is due to harassment/dowry demands is over simplistic. Sometimes people marry for purely pragmatic reasons, sometimes called a ‘marriage of convenience’ or ‘sham marriage’. Over-seas Citizenship of India is not a full-fledged citizenship of India. Acquisition of citizenship of another country by a citizen of India results in the termination of his Indian Citizenship. Our country announced the Government’s intention to give dual citizenship to Persons Of Indian Origin (PIOs) domiciled in any country (except Pakistan & Bangladesh). This has since been given legal backing after the Indian Parliament approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005. The amended Act enables the Central Government to register, as an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). The Government should also consider bringing in a comprehensive regulation/legislation to ensure that all protection be accorded by law to Indian women, with regard to marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance and custody of children etc.
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