An Indian court has ruled that a divorced woman should not receive maintenance payments if she begins a new relationship.
In a divorce case before the Madras High Court in the southern city of Chennai, Justice S Nagamuthu ruled that the wife “carries the obligation not to live in a relationship with another man”. He said that this was in conjunction with the husband’s “obligation to maintain his divorced wife”.
Therefore, divorce on the grounds of a wife’s adultery means that she would “not be entitled to alimony from her former husband”, the judge added.
The declaration was made during a government employee’s challenge to a previous court order to pay a monthly maintenance fee to his ex-wife following their divorce in 2011.
India’s Code of Criminal Procedure dictates that if a wife commits adultery, she is not entitled to receive maintenance from her husband. Justice Nagamuthu said that the definition of the term “wife” included those who were divorced.
The judge said that a woman becomes a man’s financial responsibility under Indian law once they begin a romantic relationship. This meant that any maintenance requirements from the husband would be taken over by her new partner. A similar idea was stated by a different judge in the same court two years ago, when Justice C.S. Karnan declared that couples who sleep together were legally married.
Photo of the Madras High Court by Surajram Kumaravel via Flickr