'Academic Break' No Exemption for Husband in Paying Maintenance to Estranged Wife and Child: Madras High Court

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The man argued that against his Rs 20,000 per month salary from part-time jobs, he had been ordered to pay Rs 25000 monthly to his wife and child

While dismissing an appeal filed by a man against order for paying maintenance to his wife and child, the Madras High Court recently observed that "merely because he had taken a study holiday or an 'academic break', his duty to maintain his wife and child could not take the back seat.

Before the bench of Justice R Subramanian and Justice R Kalaimathi, the man contended that to do his Ph.D., he had taken a break from his job and was only taking part-time employment and drawing Rs.20,000 per month, therefore, he could not pay maintenance as ordered. 

However, the high court found the maintenance order passed by the Family judge just and refused to interfere with the same.

The order of maintenance was passed by the Family Court as an interim measure. Before the Family Court, the man filed a divorce plea in 2017 on the ground of cruelty. Pending the same, in 2019, his estranged wife filed a petition seeking interim maintenance at Rs.1,00,000 - each per month for herself and the minor daughter.

At the hearing before the Family Court, the wife apart from producing certain details of business that was carried on by the man, also produced the details of his agricultural land holdings.

Considering the cumulative effect of the documents that were produced, Family Judge granted Rs.12,500 per month each to the wife and the daughter as interim maintenance. 

Aggrieved by this order, the man filed an appeal before the high court.  His counsel argued that the maintenance awarded by the Family Court was on the higher side.

However, the division bench noted that in its opinion, the amount awarded by the Family Court, was just about sufficient for sustenance of one human being at the cost of living today.

The bench said that Rs.12,500 per month for each person was very meagre.

However, since it was told by the counsel for the man that there were already talks for settlement of the entire issue between the parties, the bench directed the Family Court to refer the matter for mediation to the Mediation Centre to enable the parties to arrive at a negotiated settlement.

Case Title: S.Vigneshwaran V.  M.Revathy And Another