In India, all personal laws come under this domain. By personal laws, I mean any matter which is a subject matter of family chord will be covered under Family Law, irrespective of the fact that you are a follower of any religion. Be it a subject matter of Marriage and its validity, Divorce, Guardianship, Adoption and Maintenance, Spousal property, Custody of a minor, Restitution of Conjugal Rights, Judicial Separation etc. all are subject matter of family law.

However, what is pertinent to note is under the domain of family law/personal law there are laws which are there as per the one’s religion and one is bound to follow the same only. Such as a Hindu’s matter will be governed under Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, Hindu Succession Act etc. While a Muslim’s matter will be governed under the Koran, Ahadis and Sunna, Ijmaa, Qiyas, Mussalman Waqf Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act, Shariat Act, Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 etc and so is the case with the followers of other religion.

Besides this, there are secular laws which also come under this domain, such as Indian Succession Act, Special Marriage Act etc and anyone is free to get his/her personal matters resolved under these laws irrespective of his/her religion. What is important to note over here is that once you adopt for secular laws then you can’t return back for the legal remedy which are there available under your religious laws.

In India, we have Family Courts which are being established under Family Courts Act, 1984 which has the power to hear majority of the matters which pertains to family law.

The matters which a Family Court can entertain is all suits and proceedings which are related to nullity of marriage, restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, dissolution of marriage, declaration as to the validity of marriage and matrimonial status of the person, property of the spouses or any of them, for an order or injunction in circumstances arising out of a marital relationship and declaration as to the legitimacy of any person, guardianship of a person or custody of any minor, maintenance including the proceeding under the Cr. P.C.

While court marriages are done before the Court of Marriage Registrar, majority of the personal laws matters through which Muslims are governed are decided under the guidance of Waqf Board in India excluding those which are under the ambit of Family Court.

Further to this, the ancestral properties and its partition/division are also the subject matter of family law, but they are being taken and decided by the Ordinary Civil Courts of India as per their territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction.

Following is the list of such laws:

  1. The Family Courts Act, 1984
  2. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
  3. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956
  4. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  5. The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1939
  6. The Dowry Prohibition Act -1961
  7. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act
  8. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  9. The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956
  10. The Hindu Succession Act-1956
  11. The Indian Divorce Act-1869
  12. The Muslim Personal law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937
  13. The Special Marriage Act -1954
  16. The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872