Woman Residing In Matrimonial Home Entitled To Maintenance: Bombay High Court

Woman Residing In Matrimonial Home Entitled To Maintenance: Bombay High Court

Dismisses man’s plea saying he pays ₹60,000 EMI for the flat

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, January 08, 2024, 06:45 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

A woman residing in the matrimonial home is also entitled to a reasonable amount of maintenance to meet her basic expenses, observed the Bombay High Court. 

“The mere fact that she is residing in the matrimonial home is not a pretext to disentitle her to a reasonable amount of maintenance. She still needs some amount towards food, medicine, clothes and educational expenses for the child,” observed Justice Neela Gokhale on January 4.

Justice Gokhale also noted that the “objective of granting interim maintenance is to ensure that the dependent spouse is not reduced to destitution or vagrancy on account of the failure of their marriage and “not as a punishment to the other side”. 

No 'straight jacket formula' to fix amount of maintenance: Court

Adding that there is no “straight jacket formula” to fix the amount of maintenance, the HC said that it must be “reasonable and realistic” and avoid either of the two extremes. 

The HC has dismissed a petition by the woman’s estranged husband challenging the interim maintenance awarded by the Family Court (FC) to the woman and their minor son. 

On June 16, 2023, the Kalyan FC directed the husband to pay ₹15,000 per month to his wife and ₹10,000 for their 10-year-old son. The FC also directed the husband to pay ₹3,000 as litigation expenses. 

According to the plea, the couple married in 2012 and due to differences, they separated in November 2021. The husband filed for divorce on grounds of mental cruelty while the wife sought interim maintenance for herself and the son under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act. 

Lawyer seeks to reduce the maintenance amount

Advocate Dilip Devadiga, advocate for the man, submitted that his wife was already staying in the matrimonial home owned by him and also earned from freelancing. He said that he has been paying ₹60,000 EMI for the house. He further claimed that he lived a moderate lifestyle and the fact that he stayed on rent to care for his ailing mother. Hence, he sought reduction in the maintenance amount saying that the same was excessive. 

The woman’s advocates, Vinay Kate and Swarupa Sarate, countered the plea submitted affidavits and documents to show that the man earned around ₹1.3 lakh per month as an engineer and owned a car and shares. They pointed out that he had spent over ₹5 lakh on their son's education in a year, the previous year. Claiming entitlement to maintenance, she said that she was unemployed and was bringing up their son single-handedly. 

Justice Gokhale noted that the FC had considered all relevant factors and awarded a “reasonable and sufficient maintenance”, which was neither oppressive for the husband nor inadequate to fulfill the wife's needs. She also said that the fact that the woman is residing in her matrimonial home will not disentitle her to maintenance for food, medicine and the child's education.

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