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Divorced man should pay for major son’s education costs: Delhi HC

Delhi High Court has stated that a father cannot absolve himself of spending money on his son’s education after he has reached the age of majority in a matrimonial dispute.

In a ruling, Justice Subramonium Prasad concluded that the court could not ignore the reality that simply attaining the age of a major does not mean that the son is earning sufficient amounts of income. According to the order, at the age of 18, the son is either graduating from class XII or is in his first year of college.

‘More often than not, it does not place him in a position wherein he can earn to sustain or maintain himself. It further places the entire burden on the mother to bear the expenses of educating the children without any contribution from the father, and this court cannot countenance such a situation,’ said Justice Prasad.

In its ruling, the court emphasized that the purpose of Section 125 of the CrPC is to protect both the wife and the children after divorce from destitution. ‘The husband must also carry the financial burden of making certain that his children are capable of attaining a position in society wherein they can sufficiently maintain themselves. The mother cannot be burdened with the entire expenditure on the education of her son just because he has completed 18 years of age,’ it said.

In addition, the court said that a father is required to compensate a wife who, after spending on children, may ‘hardly have enough money to support herself’. The court made the observations in an order in response to an application seeking review of the court’s June 2021 order which directed the husband to pay Rs 15,000 per month as interim maintenance to his wife until their son graduates or earns an income.

The man argued in court that the Supreme Court has ruled that maintenance for children can only be granted if they are not yet adults. In the case before the High Court, the son had reached majority in August 2018. Additionally, the court was informed that the wife is a gazetted officer who earns more than Rs 70,000 per month and also receives education expenses from her employer.

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The Court said that in majority households, women are unable to work because of cultural and structural barriers, and therefore cannot support themselves. In households where women are employed and earning sufficient income to support themselves, the husband is not automatically absolved. ‘A father has an equal duty to provide for his children and there cannot be a situation wherein it is only the mother who has to bear the burden of expenses for raising and educating the children,’ it said.

The court further stated that the mother, not the major son, has been granted maintenance. However, the court also said that the argument that education expenses are being covered by the wife’s employer cannot be taken into consideration as it is the husband’s responsibility to raise his children and educate them.


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