More divorce in Delhi, or more maintenance?

February 11th, 2009 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) Modern lifestyles and professional tensions may have contributed to divorce cases rising in the capital, but there is another reason too — legal experts believe Delhi is the preferred choice for women filing for divorce because there are chances of getting more maintenance here. “Many women prefer Delhi for filing divorce cases as they can get more compensation. That is why there is such an increase in the number of cases,” said advocate Anand Sharma, who deals with matrimonial disputes.

“The court usually decides on the amount keeping in mind the financial potential of the man, who might have had a well-paying job earlier,” said Sharma.

But not always.

There have been instances in which the capital’s courts have directed unemployed husbands to pay as much as Rs.30,000 a month as maintenance to their divorced partners, leading perhaps to the city emerging as the de facto divorce capital of the country with about 8,000-9,000 cases filed here every year, according to the latest data available till 2008.

For Mumbai, the figure was 7,000 and for Chennai 5,000.

The Tis Hazari courts last year directed an unemployed man to pay his former wife Rs.30,000 a month as maintenance. This, despite the fact that the woman worked in a multinational firm and earned Rs. 100,000 per month.

The court in its order said the husband had earlier worked with a MNC and therefore had the potential to earn more.

In another recent instance, the Delhi High Court last month accepted a woman’s allegation that her husband concealed facts related to his income and ordered a three-fold increase in her interim monthly maintenance to Rs.125,000 from Rs.40,000 a month.

In addition, the court also asked the husband to provide a new Honda City car with petrol and driver at his cost for the day-to-day maintenance of the former wife along with three children.

“Most women who file their divorce pleas in other states also transfer their cases at the time of claiming maintenance as the cost of living in Delhi is high as compared to other states,” said Kamal Singh, an advocate who specialises in matrimonial disputes.

“My client filed her maintenance petition in a Meerut court and was awarded a sum of Rs.500 a month by her husband. Feeling aggrieved, she filed an appeal of transfer case and the matter was taken up by a Delhi court where the amount of maintenance increased four-fold i.e Rs.2,000 a month,” added Geetanjali Goel, another lawyer fighting family cases.

In 2008, a total of 2,157 maintenance petitions were pending in matrimonial courts, of which 1,105 were cleared. As 1,826 fresh cases were filed, the pending cases rose to 2,878.

According to Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman and her children are entitled to maintenance from the husband after divorce. There is no prescribed limit for the maintenance amount under the law.

(Kanu Sarda can be contacted at kanu.s@ians.in)

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