PROPERTY RIGHTS OF WIFE AFTER DIVORCE FROM HER HUSBAND IN THE INDIAN SCENERIO

Introduction :

A man and a woman’s marriage is a lifelong commitment, but when they decide to separate, many things are divided, including their assets. Real estate division is typically much more complicated given that it is the most valuable asset that most couples own. In India, a woman’s right to her husband’s property varies depending on how they separated, such as by divorce, mutual separation, or abandonment.

The legal rights to acquire, own, sell, and transfer property, as well as the rights to receive rent, keep one’s salary, sign contracts, and sue, are known as property rights. Women’s property rights after divorce are one of the most contentious issues at this time. For the purposes of a divorce property settlement, the right of women to their husband’s property depends on a number of factors, including how and why the couple split up.

Rights of Wife in Husband’s Property After Divorce :

If the property is in the name of the husband, the wife has no legal claim to it in the event of a mutual divorce. The person whose name has been registered for the property is the owner, as stated in The Registration Act. When it comes to the bank, the person who received the loan is the one who owns it and is responsible for making payments on the loan.

The husband has no right to ask the wife to leave the house until they are legally divorced by a competent authority, even if the wife did not contribute financially to its construction. She is entitled to remain in the house until a competent authority annuls their marriage. The wife has the right to ask for support and other expenses for her and her children after the divorce, but she cannot ask for the property in the divorce settlement.

For instance : After getting married, the husband purchases a registered apartment for himself and his wife. During their marriage, the husband and wife shared a place to live: an apartment. When a divorce is in issue, however, the wife will lose all rights to that apartment, while the husband will maintain complete ownership.

In a bit different scenario, where the wife and husband together have bought the apartment but it is registered under the name of the husband, the wife cannot claim it. However, she can show her monetary assistance in buying the property through bank statements and other proof.

Property rights of the wife when the property is jointly owned :

Recently, it has become increasingly common for husband and wife to purchase jointly registered real estate. There are a number of motives behind this, including financial savings and tax advantages. Since the husband and wife are considered to be joint owners of the property, the wife can claim it after a divorce.

By supporting the wife’s contribution to the property, the husband can defend the wife’s property rights. Her stake in the rights to the property will be the same as her contribution to the property.

Note that if the wife paid for the property in full and it was registered in her husband’s name, she can defend her right to the property as long as she can show it through financial statements.

On the other hand, if the husband pays for property that is registered in the wife’s name, the wife may not be able to claim her property rights after a divorce.

The property rights of a wife when she is abandoned by the husband :

If the husband abandons the wife but does not file for divorce, the wife and her children have the right to a share of the father’s property. If the husband has children from a previous marriage, the law prioritises the legal wife and her children.

For example, if the husband owns property, the legal first wife and her children (two sons) might assert their right to the property owned by their genetical father. In this instance, the father/husband becomes the fourth shareholder of the property, and the children from the second marriage, including the second wife, can only claim their share of the property from the father’s share.

Rights of a wife when she is a shareholder in the property :

It often happens that husband and wife purchase a property jointly, but when they are heading towards a divorce, wife holds the right to stay in the property until the divorce is approved by the court. The husband cannot ask her to leave the house if she is the co-owner of the property. The wife can ask for the settlement of her share from the husband before or after the divorce, and the husband is liable to pay her share.

Rights of Second Wife in Husband’s Property in India :

The rights of the second wife and her children are restricted if a man weds without first getting a divorce. Until the divorce is finalized by the court, the first wife is considered the legal wife under the law.

Hindu law forbids polygamy, or having more than one wife. Therefore, the second marriage has no legal significance if the first wife is still alive and is not legally divorced. As a result, the second wife will not be entitled to her husband’s property. However, her children would have a chance of inheriting the assets of their biological father.

The second wife would have all of the rights a wife would have over the husband’s property if the second marriage was legal and took place after the first wife died or after the man got a divorce. These rights would apply to the husband’s own and inherited property.

Belongings of abandoned or divorced wife :

In the event of abandonment, the wife has the right to take control of whatever she owns. She becomes the sole owner of everything she has, including jewellery, insurance policies, bonds, Fixed Deposits (FD), and other investments. She also has the right to retrieve the jewellery that was presented to her by her family and is now in the possession of her in-laws. If the in-laws engage in any inappropriate behaviour with her when returning the same, the husband or his family is held liable under Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, and Section 27 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Property Rights of Wife over movable property After Divorce in India :

Men are expected to provide financial support in our society, particularly in typical Indian households, while women are expected to perform household chores. However, when such a household is disrupted for any reason, the wife is said to lose both her social and financial dignity. Therefore, the law provides financial assistance to women through the following provisions in order to rescue such a wife from her appalling situation:

Streedhan : The wife is entitled to keep all valuable possessions that were given to her during the marriage.

Maher/ Dower : Even under Muslim law, Maher is the consideration paid by a husband as a sign of respect for his wife. Wife has absolute rights over the Mehar and other gifts she receives before, during, and after the marriage from her family and friends.

Maintenance : A husband is obligated to support his wife financially for the duration of the marriage as well as during the divorce process.

Alimony : Following a divorce, the law requires spouses to pay alimony or support to one another. The court may decide that it should be a one-time payment or a monthly one. It should be noted that alimony is not included in the divorce property division.

Conclusion :

In order to improve women’s status in India, women’s property rights have developed over time. After a divorce, financial support becomes especially important, especially in nations like India where women typically do not work or are paid very little. A woman may continue to live in squalor because she is unable to get a divorce due to financial constraints. As a result, it’s more important than ever to have laws that support women’s development and independence. However, this does not imply that men should suffer at the expense of their rights. There needs to be a middle ground.

References :

Property rights of a wife after divorce in India

https://www.lawny.org/node/16/what-happens-property-after-divorce

https://www.99acres.com/articles/property-rights-of-a-woman-after-divorce.html

https://www.legalkart.com/legal-blog/what-rights-does-a-women-have-in-her-husband’s-property-

https://www.nobroker.in/forum/can-wife-claim-husband-property-after-divorce-in-india/

https://www.vidhikarya.com/legal-blog/property-distribution-after-divorce-in-india

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