Man seeks maintenance from wife for their kids, Delhi High Court ruling may help

Updated: Dec 20, 2017, 16:58 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

November 10 ruling states both parents are statutorily obligated to provide for child's upbringing, irrespective of who earns more or their sources of income

A recent Delhi High Court order in a marital dispute case might be just the blessing in disguise a man locked in a divorce battle in Bandra's Family Court since 2012 and seeking maintenance from his wife for their two children need. Passed on November 10, 2017, by Justice I S Mehta, it states, "A spouse can't be exempted from contributing towards the maintenance of a minor child, even if the other spouse, with whom the child stays, earns sufficiently well." So, the point made being that both parents, irrespective of sources of income, have to contribute for their child's upbringing.

Representational Picture
Representational Picture

Case details
Advocate Mikhail Dey, appearing for the man (name withheld), explained the case, saying all was well until he lost his job in the Gulf a few years ago and returned home to Mumbai. The wife, a TV actress, stayed busy with her work, which led to frequent fights at home, said Dey, adding that they finally decided to file for divorce. In a fit of rage, the husband moved with his elder daughter, in secondary school, to his parents' house in Nashik, while the wife stayed on with their son, who is in a primary school.

Dey said, "The husband frequented Mumbai to see his son. But during one such visit, another fight broke out between the couple and the husband was asked to take the boy with him. With no source of income other than his savings and no job in hand, he started finding it difficult to take care of both children. Also, his plea asking his wife to provide financial support for the children was not accepted." Meanwhile, the wife agreed for an out-of-court settlement provided she got to keep their Mumbai flat, while the husband had been counting on its sale and ready to give his half of the amount, as that was the only saving he had.

Order, order
Citing the Delhi HC order, Dey said, "In our case, it's the other way round - the father is unemployed and yet taking care of both children, whereas the mother, who is earning, doesn't want to contribute towards their maintenance. "Best welfare of the child, normally, would lie in living with both parents in a happy, loving and caring environment, where the parents contribute to his/her upbringing in all spheres of life, and the child receives emotional, social, physical and material support." The matter is slated to come up for hearing before the Family Court in early 2018, when, Dey hopes, the Delhi HC order will prove helpful.

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What happened in Delhi?
The case relates to dowry harassment, wherein the woman, after getting married in February 2009 and moving into her matrimonial house in Panchkula, Haryana, shifted back to her parents' home in Delhi in January 2014, unable to bear her in-laws' taunts and abuse over "less dowry" during the wedding, as well as their demands for more. She went back with her year-old son and filed an application against her husband and in-laws under the Domestic Violence Act. The magistrate court then directed the husband to pay interim maintenance of R40,000 a month. The latter appealed against the order in the sessions court, which dismissed his plea. He then challenged the dismissal in HC, which observed, "…the petitioner cannot shy away from his statutory obligation of maintaining his legally wedded wife and his minor child."

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