“Her husband has told her she can leave if she wishes, she does not have a steady income of her own.”

Sharing an email. What do you think are her options? Does the husband seem to value their marriage? 

And this explains what Supreme Court meant by, “No impression should be given that she can be thrown out of her matrimonial home at any time,” a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said.”

Edited to add: This email is written by the wife’s friend.

I was just wondering if you would have any link that outlines the legal rights of a wife.  The wife has a young daughter is in a quandary – her mil has come to visit indefinitely, appears to be demented “as and when convenient”, husband refuses to send her back and has told wife she can leave if she wishes.

 

The wife does not have a steady income of her own, although she does get something off and on.  No joint accounts.  He hits her whenever he “gets irritated” and openly declares that he can hit her if she irritates him.

No qualms.  She is refusing to go to the police yet, as she is not financially sound and is not sure what her rights would be if she went in for a divorce.

 

She is worried about the future of her child.  Normally a very outspoken, strong woman, she seems to be totally broken and unable to think straight.  She does not have any familial support and she does not believe that the women’s cells would really help (going by what she reads on the net).

 

They have been married for almost 7 years now.  She says they were fine earlier on, it was only after the mother in law appeared on the scene that all this started.  Their’s is an inter-community marriage and the mil has appeared onto the scene only in recent times.

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How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

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36 thoughts on ““Her husband has told her she can leave if she wishes, she does not have a steady income of her own.”

  1. This is the reason why I feel the 50 per cent share in assets in case marriage breaks down should be implemented. There are several cases when the wife is left struggling in terms of money. Recently, actor Pooja Bedi publicly said that when her parents marriage broke down, her mother struggled to buy a pair of chappal. Even Pooja faced hardship when she was paid 4k to write a column for MidDay.

    • If feminists would only agree to let the be law gender neutral, it would pass in a jiffy. But, for mysterious reasons, Indian feminists seem vehemently opposed to gender neutral laws on rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment and divorce.

      • Ever stopped to think why this is so? Because the status of the Indian woman in this society is much lower than of the Indian male. Gender neutral laws can only work if the mindset / attitude of a society and its entire system (incl justice / legal) is gender neutral too. Which, in this country, it obviously is nowhere near being so.

        This leaves one with no choice but to think of the greater good while making laws, and this is why I think that India and other countries (where blind patriarchy makes the lives of the majority of women miserable) may not be ready for gender neutral laws yet.

        • I’ve been the victim of abuse by women-friendly policies. My problem is not with these policy intended to protect women, but with the near-zero diligence that is needed to prove complaints against men.

          I worked for an IT major in Chennai, and a group of women were mocking my facial features and my height. I retorted with one comment about one woman’s teeth (yes, I regret it now). This manifested itself as a sexual harassment complaint, and nobody listened to me or my point of view – not my manager, not her manager, not the HR representatives. This was enroute to becoming a police case, when I figured I had to loop in the director of HR via a direct email, claiming abuse of policies.

          When the director of HR stepped in, she stated that very little diligence was necessary to get me punished (just a written statement from the girl), but she would personally do it since my manager requested it as well.

          When the necessary diligence was done, I was acquitted, but with a memo stating that it was more appropriate for me to file a complaint against these women next time, instead of retorting myself. The women all received notices of indecent behavior.

          If they could claim the very same behavior as sexual harassment, and little diligence was required to get a guy into trouble, it appears we’re tilting the balance of law to deal with a stupid society.

          I am okay with having these rules/policies, but diligence needs to accompany them, or there are bound to be more men in trouble (my roommate received a suspension for a similar incident; there was nothing sexually oriented in his situation either).

          I’m curious to hear everyone’s opinion on this: do women think that diligence isn’t necessary, and they should have the right to get men punished if needed? Or is okay sacrificing the rights of a few good men to provide protection to women?

      • @ Niketan, I can see exactly where you are coming from. I have a simple question – how many times in the history of our society have women been punished based on the statement of one or more men without the merits or demerits of her actions being considered? Did anyone ever stop to think at that time whether it was right or not? To this day Ram is held as “Purshottam” for having been an “ideal” ruler and having banished his wife (I need not repeat the Ramayan here) on the words of one washer-man. That was the status of a queen from those times. So imagine what the status of and ordinary woman has been and how wronged she should feel.

        Do men at least now sit back to think how women have lived or felt all through the centuries and what injustices they have borne? I doubt it, because most posts from men that I have seen on most forums on this topic generally complain about the injustice of the present laws to men and the bias in favour of women, but not one of them stops to reflect on the reverse situation all down the ages.

        However, two wrongs do not make a right. So I do not say that it is right to punish a man without checking out the merits/demerits of the case, based entirely on the words of a complaint from a girl/woman.

      • Umm, how can rape be gender neutral? How many times has a gang of women descended on a lone man, drugged him, dragged him to a secluded spot and then took turns to rape him? How many times has a man’s unidentified body been found in a ditch, canal or bushes, bearing signs of sexual assualt? Get real dude.

  2. This shows how much of ignorance there is about women’s rights and more so the skeptical thought process about our judiciary and police( rightfully so).Most often women keep suffering because they believe the court battles will be more torture than what happens at home.
    Where families do not come forward there should be some setup in place where women could go in such situations and be helped with gaining economic self-reliance and legal recourse.An abusive marriage is not worth staying in no matter what the stakes.

  3. Whatever they earned after the marriage to be split. — simple.
    Then she should use that to educate herself or if she has an education get a job ASAP.
    the difference is their pay’s + who’s raising the child etc., taken into account nd child support provided for the child.

    if this were not india this probably would have automatically happened. and the woman would be free from the beatings but in india i dont know the solution…
    dont have an answer except to say to all girls out there, get self sufficient especially befor eyou have a kid .

  4. If I was in her case I would seriously get myself financially capable of taking care of the child and myself and the very next instant leave the abusive husband. It’s not worth spending your life like that and to give the daughter an impression that it’s ok for daddy to hit mommy when he’s upset and mommy has to bear it because mommy can’t walk out. I can’t think of any way the mil will leave unless the man takes a firm stand which I guess will never happen. If the guy realises after the seperation that he will be able to sort things out then she could give him another chance or else get her own peace of mind away from him.

    I know for sure that I would not want a penny from a guy like that, not want anything to do with him but I understand that it’s not the same for everyone. My neighbour is a divorced full time mom of two girls and although she doesnt have to deal with her ex-husband anymore it hurts her own self respect for having to raise her daughters on his money. She has dedicated her life and time in raising the girls and is not educated enough to earn her own livelihood, it didnt matter before when they were married when she never thought of their family income as being ‘his’ money, it was always ‘theirs’, just as the daughters were ‘theirs’ but now it hurts a huge deal every month when a cheque appears reminding her he’s not around but still not gone from their lives. She feels a prick in her heart everytime she is paying money for something knowing where it comes from and she is not able to forget her past and move on with life.

    It also makes me wonder why women let things be and ‘adjust’ with things that backfire so badly – to not have a joint account, not having have a say in the family decisions (mil moving in with them in this case) and get abused by husband yet not taking actions for it to never happen again. It makes me angry to see woman being so submisive, to see woman being trapped in a situation as this one. It breaks my heart when I think about the child seeing all this helplessly.

  5. “He hits her whenever he “gets irritated” and openly declares that he can hit her if she irritates him.
    No qualms.”

    I’m confused. If he was fine before the MIL showed up, does that mean she was okay with him hitting her? Or did he only start hitting her when his mother showed up?

    Either way, raising a child in such a toxic household is far, far more damaging than getting a divorce and moving away from the abuser (which is easier said than done).

    Could she make sure she gets a steady income? Maybe she can invest some money in building up her skill set? If the husband disagrees then she can say that she’s trying to ‘earn more’ for the household–take a course or get some training that’s beneficial to her, get a steady job, and then leave.

  6. As far as I understand, if they get divorced, and she has no/insufficient source of income, the husband has to pay her alimony or maintenance, plus child support. The amount is determined on a case by case basis – the couple’s standard of living, the child’s needs, etc. are taken into account. If she has a sufficient income, she will not receive maintenance but will still receive child support. A lawyer will know the right answer to this and should be able to elaborate on division of property and other assets.

    On a more personal level, this is a reminder to every young girl to use her education to get a real job, live on her own before getting married, learn to manage finances, bill paying, signing a lease, managing a bank account, taking care of utilities/repairs on apartment, learn to drive, and host of other things before contemplating marriage. Be an adult before getting married. And after marriage, wait and make sure your relationship is acceptable to you before having kids.

    • I’m not completely clear on Indian law, but with regards to alimony, isn’t it true that the husband’s proof of income needs to be presented before an amount can be reached? Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember reading that this was a cause for concern because wives don’t have access to proof of income, and when they do, it’s a suspiciously small amount that allows husbands to get away with paying little to no alimony at all.

      • What happens if a husband quits his job or takes up a job with a lesser income when he knows his wife is going to sue for divorce and maintenance/has already sued …..?

        • This shows the ridiculousness of the whole concept of alimony and maintenance. No body owes anyone a living. Share in what was earned under a mutual agreement, yes, but not a promise to work for anyone for a day.

  7. In spite of so much advancement in all spheres, it is really sad that a woman has to face so many atrocities in her married life. The only solution is that women must be financially self sufficient. She should quit her husband’s home and lead an independent life. I personally feel that she should not agree for a divorce, because the MAN will remarry and make another girl’s life miserable.

  8. Women and men should not enter into marriages, in traditional sense. Whats the point of complicating life and taking risk to this extent: women giving away their financial security in someone else’s hands and men taking financial responsibility of another adult for life. This concept is too bizarre, risky and outdated to give happiness to both partners. Why not each one living their own lives? Why enter into such a fraught arrangement in the first place and complain later?

    • This is an ideal situation, but the pressure society puts on young people via the parents to get married is too much to resist and most succumb.

  9. Now since the LW has asked for advice there is insufficient information given. She has not mentioned the education of the lady. I think anybody can earn money if they try really hard even with lesser education. Ofcourse with little time.There are many options. But she has to get herself out of the victim mode and take charge of her life. She should look around in her city. If her education is a problem she can use a skill to make herself substantially independent like sewing and cooking. In many three and two tier cities there is demand for home cooked food. Maybe she can tap that if nothing else. I know it takes some time and effort to plan and work it out but she can keep that as a focus of her life and spend time everyday to work towrards some plan to make herself financially independent. That will also keep her going in a negative environment because she would have a goal to work on and will look forward to getting out of this toxic environment. If she keeps herself focused and does not let herself get trapped and feel victimised she can make a life for herself. As for her daughter the father should pay some maintenance as he has some responsibility towards the child. I hope that helps

  10. ok, i m going to give u practical advice that actually worked in another similar household. the wife, one day, sat her husband down calmly and told him, “lets discuss what will happen if i leave. either i will get custody of the child or you will. if you get the custody, you will have to take her entire responsibility – school, extracurriculars, exams, dresses, shopping, health, everything. making money for a child is the easiest thing to do. i will not come to visit nor will i help with ANYTHING. ask your mother if she is willing to do that much work. and dont forget housekeeping, cooking, managing the domestic staff and the household budget, ensuring that the food is good for everyone, keeping an eye on her friends as she grows. ask your mother if she will do all this. i find one instance, exactly one instance of my daughter having trouble – and i will drag you guys under penal code, not under civil code. ”
    if i get custody, i will sue u for alimony. i dont earn. i am going to first put in jail under domestic violence act and then screw u for alimony. these are my rights. and i will make it impossible for u to attend any office with the no. of hearings of the case. your other alternative is to pay up.

    Next, lets talk abt what happens to you and me if we separate. i get a life. no one can hit me. and you can go out and sleep with other women. but u cant have a wife to comehome to. at this time, your mother is giving you emotional companionship, and if thats what you want, good luck. your mother is old and you will have to take care of her needs and your own. you cant work late in office any more bcs mother is alone at home. you will have to take her shopping every weekend and also take care of her nursing needs as she gets older, because i m not going to be there and you are not going to find a woman easily who wll marry knowing that there is a mil at home to be taken care of. your bargaining power in the marriage market dips with that one. no girl wants to live with an ailing mil.
    i, on the other hand, live off your alimony, drag you to court, and also find time to cultivate my interests. i stop living in fear.

    the husband has behaved himself for 2 years now. :-p

    • :-) Guess threats work .

      But i for one dont agree much to this. 2 people can split due to any number of reasons and share the upbringing of a child. Shared custody works fine. just like 2 people were required to bring the child into this world. 2 people can raise the child without staying together. that is my 2 cents. i dont agree with giving the husband custody and nitpicking his every move. wont work in our household. every parent had a diff way of parenting which could irritate the other, so in case of divorce , share custody and keep your nose out of that parent-child relationship, focus on your dynamic with the child.

      but on one hand i feel great that she was able to articulate so well in a stressful situation.

      • More than that, I don’t think the man had considered How much extra work will come his way if she leaves. Like a lot of other ppl, he saw her dependence on him but not his own dependence on her. She brought that home to him.

        • yes, but that would entice me to leave, especially if the man behaved not because he loves me, likes me and wants to share his life with me but because I’m the general all purpose help that lessens his burdens??? I’d flee , he can hire himself a housekeeper and both would be happy. This is certainly not the basis of a happy marriage.
          yes a marriage held together but how can someone waste this one single life by compromising on happiness. don’t these women want love, care, passion, joy, trust and happiness ??? i really don’t understand this life at all…

        • I had the same reaction as radha, why would the woman want to stay if she’s basically convincing the husband to keep her as a domestic helper? I can only imagine that she feels financially forced to stay?

        • Many men are only able to see what they bring to the table but are unable to see what the wife brings to the table. Money as well as work, both are needed to keep a family going. But it would be in the woman’s interest that she had a job and her husband pitched in the housework, cooking etc. But few men would agree to this arrangement as they would want to hold all the power in the relationship.

  11. Child Support Acts have forced courts to make sure that any children from the marriage will be properly housed which means that a wife, who in most case will have custody of any children, will usually find herself having property by default, although this is likely to be sold when the children leave home.

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