A mutual consent divorce is one in which both husband and wife agree to the divorce. It is a demanding procedure, both mentally and physically, but much less complicated than the long-drawn litigation that follows when there is no consent from either husband or wife. This is so because the court assumes that the husband and wife are willing to co-operate on matters relating to the divorce. What remains is rather procedural.
Section 13 B of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 require the couple to be living separately for at least one year before divorce proceedings can begin. Section 10A of Divorce Act, 1869, however, requires the couple to be separated for at least two years. Do note that living separately does not necessarily mean living in different locations; the couple only needs to provide that they have not been living as husband and wife during this time period.
Procedure for Divorce with Mutual Consent
1. Filing the Petition
The husband and wife will both need a lawyer to handle the matter of the divorce. The lawyers will have them file for the divorce at one of the following places:
1. Where the two last resided.
2. Where the two were married.
3. Where the wife currently resides.
2. Grant of First Motion
Now that the two parties have filed the petition, they must record their statements in the presence of the judge at a district court. As noted previously, it is assumed that the two parties wish to get a divorce of their own volition (i.e. with mutual consent). Therefore, the parties need to state that they agree to the divorce freely. The parties will be required to state their reasons for the divorce and the terms on which they have agreed to separate (visitation rights, custody, etc). In case the parties cannot be in attendance at the court, they may grant power of attorney to any other person (preferably a family member) to speak for them. Once heard, the court grants the First Motion. Information about the time period of separation will also need to be mentioned. The petition will need to be submitted and signed before the judge.
3. Cooling-off Period
The couple is expected to attempt reconciliation during the ensuing six to eighteen months, before they file the second motion, at which point the divorce will be granted. Therefore, the couple must wait at least six months before they can approach the courts once again with the second motion. If either the husband or wife declares to the court that the other was un-cooperative in reconciling, the court may disallow divorce with mutual consent.
4. Second Motion
With the end of six months — and up to eighteen months — the couple can file the second motion and the judge will dissolve the marriage.
Now the cost of the litigation process is high not primarily because of the consultation fees but because of the long procedure involving a lot of paperwork. To answer your query specifically, there is not stipulated number of consultations that are necessarily required in a divorce case (mutual consent) and the fees for consultation will also depend from lawyer to lawyer and hence is ambiguous. Though the figure is ambiguous but it has its reasons for being so. No one knows, how many years your case will be heard in the court. You might give 10 Lakhs to a veteran and get it done within few hearings or you may even pay an average charging lawyer, say INR 10,000 per hearing and get it done within 3-4 years!