Alimony for Everyone

Aug 8, 2012 by

In a bit of interesting news coming from DNAIndia, a Delhi High Court has upheld a family court order that compels a man to pay alimony to his live-in housekeeper. Men in the United States who think it is bad to have to support an ex-wife have it pretty good compared to 65-year-old Mr. Narain who will have to pay monthly maintenance support to his 30-year-old former domestic housekeeper because she and her three minor children were living in his house.

Ms. Parvati and her three children lived with Narain for three years before he told her to leave in December 2009. She claimed they were living together as a family during that time. Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in India automatically awards maintenance support to the wife, minor children when a woman claims to be having a married relationship with a man. Of course, Mr. Narain disagreed and said because he is not married to Parvati, he is not liable for any maintenance support payments to her. Ms. Parvati turned to the family court system for relief, and despite Narain’s claims, the family court ruled in Parvati’s favor.

The presiding judge in the higher court case, Justice Hima Kohli, upheld the lower court’s order and noted that under Indian law the standard of proof required to prove the validity of a marriage is very lax, and if it can be shown that a couple was living together as husband and wife, and were being treated by others as a married couple, then they would be considered a valid married couple under the law, and there would exist sufficient cause to award maintenance support to the dependants. The higher court ruled that Ms. Parvati would be entitled to alimony support payments until some legally binding finality was reached to prove whether or not her relationship with Narain constituted a marriage of sorts.

Perhaps Mr. Narain’s plight can be viewed like a claim for “palimony” here in the U.S. where live-in relationships often turn into court battles over support payments. However, it must be taken into consideration that Mr. Narain’s 3,000 rupees per month court-ordered support payments really aren’t that bad when you consider India’s economy is pretty strong and 3,000 rupees only equals about $66 U.S. and plenty of men in the U.S. would be happy to pay just $66 a month to their ex-spouses.

Meanwhile, the larger question of whether or not proof of marriage is required to receive maintenance support payments under the Code of Criminal Procedure section 125 was referred to the Chief Justice of India, SH Kapadia, who will decide just how broad an interpretation should be given to the term “wife” and whether or not those cases where a man and woman have been living together as husband and wife for a reasonably long period of time should even apply.


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