Madras High Court Upholds Maintenance Obligations Despite Study Leave

In a recent decision on September 12, the Madras High Court reaffirmed that going on study leave or taking a break from work to pursue higher education is not a valid reason for a man to seek exemption from providing financial support to his estranged wife and their children. This ruling came as the court upheld a family court’s order, which had directed the husband to pay a monthly maintenance amount of ₹12,500 to both his wife and their minor daughter.

The case had arisen when the wife appealed to increase the maintenance amount, while the husband challenged the maintenance order in the High Court.

The husband’s counsel argued that his client had temporarily left his full-time job to pursue a Ph.D. and was currently employed only part-time. Consequently, he contended that he was not financially capable of providing maintenance to his wife and daughter.

However, the Madras High Court firmly rejected this argument, emphasizing that a person has a duty to support their spouse and child, regardless of their employment status. The court stated, “The amount awarded in our opinion would be just about sufficient for sustenance of one human being at the cost of living today. Merely because the petitioner has taken a study break or an academic hiatus, his responsibility to maintain his wife and child cannot be set aside. ₹12,500 per month for each person, as of today, in our considered opinion, is very meager. We, therefore, do not find any reason to interfere with the family court’s order. The appeal consequently fails and is dismissed with no associated costs. As a result, the related miscellaneous petition is closed.”

Advocate Suchit Anant Palande represented the husband in this case.

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