Mumbai: A mother will be better equipped to take care of the girl child, who is eight years old and would be undergoing hormonal and physical changes, said the Bombay High Court while refusing to grant full time custody to the father.
Justice Sharmila Deshmukh also noted that the welfare of a child includes both physical and mental well-being, health, comfort and overall social and moral development.
The HC recently dismissed a plea by the father challenging the February order of the family court (FC) granting the girl's custody to her mother. The FC had granted access to the father.
“Much care has to be taken during this phase of growth of the girl child and the paternal grandmother or the paternal aunt cannot be a substitute to the mother who is also a qualified doctor," the judge said.
It added, “During this phase of life, the girl child requires care and attention of a woman who would be better equipped to understand the process of transformation which the girl child will undergo and as such, the mother at this stage is preferred against the father.”
Justice Deshnukh said that the welfare of a child is of paramount consideration in deciding the custody matters and child's comfort is one of the factors that is to be taken into account.
The judge said, “The word 'welfare' is to be understood in the widest sense taking within its fold the physical and mental well-being, health, comfort and overall social and moral development of the child. All that is essential for a well-balanced upbringing of the child amounts to welfare of the child.”
According to the petition, the couple got married in 2010 and their daughter was born in 2015. They separated in 2020 after the man alleged that the woman had indulged in extra marital affairs. The daughter was staying with her father.
The husband filed divorce petition before the Bombay High Court and sought the daughter's permanent custody.
However, in February, the FC granted the interim custody to the mother and granted visitation rights to the father.
The man challenged this before the Bombay High Court contending that his daughter was attached to his family and that her comfort, safety and convenience needs to be considered. He also alleged that his estranged wife had indulged in extra-marital affairs and hence would have little regard for the welfare and upbringing of the minor child.
The woman opposed the plea contending that the daughter was with her during weekdays and was with the father on weekends.