Even wife living in husband’s home must get maintenance: HC | India News

MUMBAI: Observing that a woman residing in her matrimonial home is entitled to receive maintenance for necessary expenses, Bombay high court upheld an order that directed a man to pay interim maintenance to his wife and minor son.
“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,” Justice Neela Gokhale said in the Jan 4 verdict.
The couple married in June 2012 but due to discord stayed separately from November 2021. The husband filed for divorce citing cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 before a Kalyan civil court. The wife filed for interim maintenance. The court awarded her Rs 15,000 and Rs 10,000 for their son as monthly interim maintenance.
The husband told the HC the order is unfair and does not balance equities. He said his wife resides in the matrimonial home owned by him and claimed to pay Rs 60,000 monthly EMI for the flat. He stays on rent with his mother. His wife earns nearlyRs 10,000 monthly by freelancing recruitment.
The judge noted from documents that the husband, a qualified engineer, earns Rs 1.3 lakh monthly, has a car, shares etc. He is suitably employed and his standard of living is fairly modest. Against this, the wife, an MBA, is jobless and sometimes earns Rs 10,000 from freelance work. She is unable to hold down a permanent job as she looks after their 10-year-old son single-handedly and incurs his expenses.
Justice Gokhale said 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”.
There is no “straight-jacket formula” for fixing the amount of maintenance but the legal position suggests it must be “reasonable and realistic” and neither extravagant nor meagre.
Dismissing the husband’s petition, Justice Gokhale said the quantum of interim maintenance awarded “is reasonable and does not suffer from any infirmity”.

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