In a recent judgment, the Delhi High Court shed light on the issue of maintenance in matrimonial disputes. The court emphasized that a wife’s earning capacity should not be seen as an absolute bar for the husband to provide financial support. The division bench of Justice V Kameswar Rao and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta observed that the obligation of the husband to provide maintenance is on a higher pedestal than that of the wife.
The case before the court involved a husband and wife who had been married for several years and had a daughter together. However, the wife filed for divorce, alleging cruelty, desertion, and the compulsion to live separately. Alongside the divorce petition, the wife also sought maintenance for herself and their daughter.
The family court, in response to the wife’s application, directed the husband to pay maintenance for the minor child but denied pendente lite maintenance to the wife, considering her earning capacity. The wife, despite having an MBA and LLB qualification, contended that she still required financial support from her husband to sustain herself and contribute to the upbringing of their daughter.
The Delhi High Court disagreed with the family court’s observation and highlighted the wife’s constrained living situation and her responsibilities towards the child’s education, extracurricular activities, and medical needs. The court emphasized that the purpose of maintenance provisions is to provide financial support to dependent spouses and children.
The court stressed the need for a realistic approach in determining maintenance, taking into consideration the income of both parties, the duration of the marriage, and the conduct of the parties. It also emphasized the importance of timely resolution, stating that interim maintenance applications should be disposed of within 60 days of service of notice.
In light of these considerations, the Delhi High Court modified the family court’s order and granted the wife monthly maintenance in addition to the maintenance for the minor child. The husband was also directed to clear any arrears of maintenance within the stipulated timeline.