Should couples’ assets be treated as joint property?

Traditionally whatever belongs to either of the couple, belongs to both, but generally the husband and his family have the right to decide how it is to be spent or invested.

And traditionally in case of a separation the wife’s biggest fears are financial insecurity – many Indian marriages ‘survive’ because the woman has no way to support herself and their children, often scarring the children as in this case. Legally the non-earning partner, husband or wife, gets maintenance in case of separation, but nearly always women find it difficult to get maintenance and so they avoid separating/divorce unless they can financially support themselves.

The Planning Commission’s working group on Women’s Agency and Empowerment wants a comprehensive legislation – ‘Right to Marital Property Act’ – to be brought in which would be applicable to all communities.[ TOI] Link shared via phone by my friend Anita Rao.

Some of the comments below the article seemed concerned that women might marry and divorce to get 50% of the husbands’ property, but this would apply to both the spouses, now that more and more women are earning.

A large number of women are working and earning and often their earnings are treated like their husband’s salary. (Ananya- Shravan Kumar’s one objection to his sister in law was that she did not hand over her pay to the mother in law). Also women who are not earning are still working – caring for the couple’s children and atleast one set of parents (often the husband’s).

Anna, 49 is a working woman and divorcee raising her teenage son alone, and she says that “you can make a marital contract wherein whatever you bring into the marriage, remains yours and whatever you acquire together in your marriage is shared fifty-fifty in case of a separation or divorce.”  What do you think?

What do you think of the Right to Marital Property Act?

Related posts:

An email from a daughter whose mother endured everything because she did not want to ruin her daughters’ lives.

A daughter in law’s legal rights in her in law’s house are the same as her husband’s rights. Whatever is his, is hers.

Never! I don’t want his money! – Preethi  (Women’s Web)

Unmana – On women and financial freedom.

Richa – Lady let the man handle your finances.

“My wife often rakes up property issues, or rues the expenses on my father’s ill-health.”

Another email. When an Indian daughter-in-law has no brothers.

125 thoughts on “Should couples’ assets be treated as joint property?

  1. I definitely think that after getting married, the property owned by one person should automatically be considered both parties.’ As in, in case of a divorce [not separation], assets should be split 50-50 unless otherwise specified before the signing of the marriage contract [like a pre-nup].

    I have no idea how this could apply in a joint family setting because then the husband and wife have no property–everything belongs to the husband’s parents. I think women who are entering an arranged marriage should really consider the joint family setting, because, in case of a divorce, they’ll pretty much end up with nothing. And IMO they shouldn’t have a joint bank account with their husbands right away because they technically don’t know the guy no matter how many times they’ve met him for coffee or chatted on the internet. [The same applies to the men].

    As for handing over your salary to your mother-in-law–wouldn’t this be considered illegal if it’s forced?

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    • Handing salary to MIL is ridiculous. But if a fair and reasonable, loving husband asks for her salary when he himself does not prevent her from the decision makings of how his salary is spent and is willing to share, it would be very unfair for the wife to hoard up her salary.
      Then the husband will be well within his rights to not spend a penny on her – for anything – her food, clothing etc. Fair enough.
      If he is abusive and selfish, women can pay back in the same coin. But to be petty always from the lady’s side and find reasons to justify it is not fair at all.
      It’s just exploiting the husband.

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      • I downvoted you, and here’s why:

        Men and women do not have equal access to work, earning capacities and money. This is because an ENORMOUS quantity of women’s labor is not considered “real work”, and is done for no pay. For instance: pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, childcare, cooking, cleaning, elder-care, sick-person-care, etc. are the domain of women either exclusively or largely, and they take up a lot of a woman’s time and energy which leaves her with fewer opportunities to engage in paid work.

        Men are not held back by these forms of unpaid work and are in fact helped by the wife-as-life-secretary model where a lot of the time they should rightfully spend on doing their fair share of work is freed up by the wife doing double, triple or quadruple duty. Which leaves them even more time to engage in paid work, and thus earn far mor e money.

        So the only universe in which your words about “tit for tat” and “exploitation of the husband” would be valid is the universe where husbands pay their wives for all the unpaid work the wives do and that money is counted as part of the wife’s income.

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      • @Priya–a ‘fair, reasonable, and loving husband’ would never demand the wife hand over her salary to him so he can make decisions on how her salary is spent [however ‘reasonable’ those decisions may be].

        Samosa-of-doom gives some pretty good arguments as to why women may, as you say, ‘hoard’ their salaries. However, let’s bring up another situation–both husband and wife work full time and neither does any house work [they hire help] and they do not live with anyone’s parents [this situation, btw, is very rare in India]. They need to come to a decision together about their finances. It is unreasonable for either party to demand that only he or she have the sole right to plan the finances.

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  2. This is actually very difficult to decide. The problem is that we cannot really measure the amount of work either partner has put in something. It is almost always bound to be unfair to one partner, no matter how many laws we bring in.

    Also, a problem to women getting their due in case of a divorce was pointed out by a friend. Generally, many women forego alimony and thus make a deal with the man for a mutual divorce so that they actually GET a divorce in time for them to have a life left.

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    • Very true.

      Just getting a divorce in India is such a herculean task that you’re often willing to forego alimony (not even an option in mutual consent divorce).

      Even in a divorce by mutual consent, if you’re unlucky and get an over-zealous “pro-family” judge, then you end up at the starting line all over again.

      Most women forego alimony or maintenance, to avoid a long-winded contested divorce.

      Of course, this works out great for the men — they get a lavish big fat Indian wedding, a free maid-wife for the duration of the marriage AND a low-cost divorce. Yippee!

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      • I agree. There should be a smoother path to getting a divorce. Once more people get divorced, the negative image associated with post-divorce men and women will slowly go away.

        Not all marriages are meant to last forever. This is real life.

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    • Getting divorces in India is very difficult. But agree with Fem that it is difficult to decide.

      What about inherited property / money? Does the spouse have any right over it?

      @Bad Indian Woman: Not sure if life is as cheerful for a man who gets divorced. Most men just like women are looked upon quite suspiciously if they go through a divorce. So that might be a reason why most people do try and avoid divorces. I know of couples being separated for 10 years but have not actually got divorced.

      Also the real problem is not if the judge is pro family but with various laws which are pro-family.

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      • When my ex-husband and I appeared before the judge after the mandatory counselling session, he delivered a five-minute speech about the sanctity of marriage in Hindu law (ours was registered under the Hindu Marriage Act).

        He addressed all his remarks solely to me, including a few about how “modern women” were being “unreasonable”.

        I am not aware of any law that requires a judge to harangue only the female half of a divorcing couple; or deliver five-minute sermons on the sanctity of marriage.

        Also, while divorce is stigmatising for both, women have to deal with far more stigma than do men.

        Mandooka has an excellent post on the subject:
        http://mandooka.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/annnnnnnnnnd-the-sympathy-vote-goes-to/

        Anyhow, this is strictly ‘IME’.

        People’s experiences post-divorce have a lot to do with the social circles they move in and the presence (or lack) of family support.

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      • @Bad

        I know what you mean. I know of a case where the judge repeatedly asked the woman if she was forced into the divorce. It was a mutual consent divorce and yet he somehow felt the woman was forced into it. He didn’t ask anything to the guy. So yeah, divorce court can be fun! (/sarcasm)

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      • @Bad: But the fact is dealing with pro-family laws are more difficult than dealing with pro-family judges. A lecture form the judge is not the real difficulty in getting divorces but the law in keeping the sanctity of marriage is.

        Not sure about the law exactly, but it takes years of separation for divorces to be granted. How many years does the law take for a couple to know each other before being allowed to get married. There is no time frame for that. Such things make the laws pro-family making it very difficult for divorces.

        As far as life after divorces, I know some men who have had all kinds of doubts raised about them which has gone from being impotent to gay…

        As you pointed out, it all depends on ones social circle.

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      • @Aditya: Responding to your comment from Feb 8 here because that comment did not have a reply tab.🙂

        “How many years does the law take for a couple to know each other before being allowed to get married. There is no time frame for that. Such things make the laws pro-family making it very difficult for divorces.”

        Completely agree. Marriage and divorce are so complicated that it is no wonder that most societies have traditionally discouraged divorce and enforced a monogamous “for-life” version of marriage.

        Also agree that many divorced men are saddled with the “gay or impotent” stigma.

        While I understand why divorced men are stigmatised, why are these two considered the most common reasons?

        Never understood that.

        @Nish: Yes, divorce court can be a “horizon-widening” kind of experience.
        More gems: My lawyer also suggested that I should wear Indian clothing and avoid heavy make up when we appeared before the judge.🙂

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  3. Once married, there is no question of whether it is the man’s salary or the woman’s.
    If the husband is giving full access to his salary to the wife and providing for the family, it is wrong on the wife’s part to hoard up her salary. In that case, it is unfair.
    A marriage is an equal partnership and the husband has the rights to ask for his wife’s salary when he is giving full access to his wife, providing for family and kids. She has all rights in his home, so why not the husband have all rights on her salary?
    It’s always ÖUR money, not yours or mine.
    But many women seem to think – What you earn is ours and what I earn is mine.
    If she was so insecure, why did she marry him?

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    • “It’s always OUR money”

      Not necessarily. Different people have different priorities. It’s okay if a couple chooses to have separate finances. Most couples I know tend to have one joint account and one ‘personal’ account and that works out fine for them.

      Personally–I prefer the whole ‘our’ money scenario and my husband [ack] and I have done that years before getting married. But just because we prefer it that way doesn’t mean that couples who don’t are wrong.

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    • Not necessarily Priya.

      Many men still do not allow their wives complete and unqualified access to the family finances.

      In many families, wives are given a fixed sum of money for monthly expenses but do not participate in any financial decision-making otherwise.

      In most families, investment decisions are still taken solely by husbands, and most times, the wife is a joint holder only if the husband allows it.

      A man may have a high income, but it is not necessary that the wife can access it at all times and in all circumstances.

      Men have a tight grip on the purse strings in a typical Indian family.

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      • As long as he is responsible and able in managing finances, and ensures that his wife will be looked after and gets the rights to his wealth after God Forbid, his death, there is no reason a wife must cry for control.
        Yes, there must be transparency – I agree till that.

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      • “Men have a tight grip on the purse strings in a typical Indian family.”

        A notable exception is Malayalee Christian couples. Traditionally the women manage the finances (this stereotype is changing in recent times though).

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      • Priya,

        There is no reason why a wife cannot control her own finances, if she wants to. If that’s what she wants, then the husband has no right to keep telling her to give him her money. Whether a partner is responsible or not, the other partner might want to be part of the decision making process and/or control the financial spending/investments. Nothing wrong in it. I don’t understand why you are so against a very basic need of some human beings to do their own jobs and manage their own affairs.

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      • @Nish
        “Men have a tight grip on the purse strings in a typical Indian family.”..
        “A notable exception is Malayalee Christian couples. Traditionally the women manage the finances” (sic)
        I am from that community and yet to hear anything about women managing finances. Typically, Malayali Christian men still expect lot of dowry, take enough but still complain that they did not get what they ‘deserve’. And further keep tight access to money whether wife earns or not.

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      • @shy

        Well, it’s a stereotype. And often stereotypes are not close to the truth. I’ll accept what you say since you are from the community and probably know what you are talking about.

        BTW, why the “sic” usage? As far as I can tell “finances” is a correct noun-form. Care to explain? Just curious here!

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      • @shy

        Ah, I guess you meant my first sentence.

        “A notable exception is Malayalee Christian couples.”

        That should be “are” there and not “is”. If so, thanks, good catch!🙂

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      • @Fem,

        Well it still feels odd, I’d probably rewrite that as :

        “A notable exception would be Malayalee Christian couples.”

        That said, I wonder why she used (sic) there.

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    • Priya,

      I actually see a lot of problems with your stance.

      //Once married, there is no question of whether it is the man’s salary or the woman’s.//
      In law, it doesn’t work like that. No company will pay salary in the husband’s name when the wife is their employee, and vice-versa. No husband will go to prison for a crime committed by the wife, or vice-versa. You want to look at husband and wife as one entity, but legally their union is just a contract.

      //If the husband is giving full access to his salary to the wife and providing for the family, it is wrong on the wife’s part to hoard up her salary. In that case, it is unfair.//
      This raises plenty of questions. Has it been the woman’s decision that this is how things should be? Has the man taken dowry in any form? Does he or his family ‘allow’ the woman to do the work she wants to do, as she wants to do, when she wants to do? Basically, does she have the same support as the man for improving herself and her career? Plenty of times, the career of a woman takes a backseat as she bows down to society’s or family’s wishes to take it easy and give more time to the home.

      //She has all rights in his home, so why not the husband have all rights on her salary?//
      This again is not very widespread. Most women cannot even wear clothes as they wish to, leave alone spend money as they want. Especially when it’s their husband’s salary. Show me a woman who takes her husband’s salary without his permission and takes a holiday abroad all on her own, and I might agree with your assessment.

      //It’s always ÖUR money, not yours or mine.//
      No, it’s not. It can only become OUR money with the free consent of both parties, which in many cases, they may not desire to.

      //But many women seem to think – What you earn is ours and what I earn is mine.//
      I have come across this too. But considering the situation of wives in this country, this attitude is inevitable. I already have spoken about large cost of weddings, dowry and the rest that usually the woman and her family pays for. Who is going to reimburse this?

      //If she was so insecure, why did she marry him?//
      Certainly not to give her money to a man to use as he pleases. That’s not why someone marries. Some people may prefer to retain individuality after marriage as well.

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      • Its is rare but some couples really have that kind of relationship. My parents share all their money (they only have joint accounts), but each is welcome to use the money as he or she pleases. Obviously they talk regularly about finances so that they meet all their obligations and stick to the budget, but with the disposable income they each have their own investments (property, stock, etc.) and they can buy clothes, jewelry or go on trips without asking permission. But I think that they key difference here is that my mom doesn’t hand over her salary to my dad and he doesn’t hand over his salary to her, they simply put it into a family pot and have equal access to it. Big financial decisions are made together on a consensus basis. The other key difference here is that they live in a nuclear family (and have done so for most of their marriage) so the additional complications of a joint family system don’t exist in this scenario.

        My one little caveat here is that they didn’t start this kind of system until a couple of years after they were married, because it took time to trust each other fully and understand the other person’s values regarding finances.

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    • in your words..”She has all rights in his home..”
      its always his “home” and going to be “his” home because the norm in society is that it is “his” home and not hers he is giving shelter to the wife even though she earns,cooks for him,takes care of cleaning,laundry..everything.
      and because he’s allowing to stay in “his” home out of charity or whatever,she should hand over all the salary to him.GREAT THINKING AND EVEN GREATER LOGIC.KUDOS!!

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    • Possibly because in a ‘freer’ society, more than 50% of marriages end up in divorce. Of the ones that don’t, how many couples do you think are truly happy? Personally, I think less than half [I have no stats to back this up as this is only an opinion].

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      • I completely agree. It’s time people stopped looking at divorce as a “bad” thing and accepted that it’s completely natural – and should be expected – of people to grow out of relationships after a while. It’s time people realized that keeping the divorce rate at an artificial minimum doesn’t do anyone any favors.

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      • @wild child–people also seem to think something ‘drastic’ like abuse or infidelity needs to happen for a divorce. They get appalled that couples sometimes want to break out of a relationship because they’ve grown out of love or they don’t feel like they’re both headed in the same direction. The Eat, Pray, Love writer got a lot of flack for divorcing her husband even though she probably did them both a huge favor–both of them are happily married to different people now.

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    • Do they? I think many women stay in marriages even at the cost of their psychological, physical, financial and professional well-being.

      Please go through IHM’s older posts to get an idea of just how hard (most) women cling on to marriages because divorce is SO stigmatised and frowned upon.

      Talk to women from low-income families.

      Most stay with husbands who are abusive, alcoholic, chronically unfaithful and financially irresponsible not because they love them, but because their families and society insist that they make it work AT ALL COSTS.

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    • well Priya ,

      You have to think of All possibilities before you enter a marriage which includes a happy marriage and a bad marriage . Wishing away a bad thing will not annihilate its existence nor will it assure that you will not face it. The better prepared you are.. the more easy is it to figure out your way if things are not going too well. When we get into every damn thing looking at its upside and downside why is it that for marriages we look only at the glossy pic before jumping in

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  4. I’d say it should be a function of the length of the marriage, amongst other things. So you don’t end up with drive-through marriages where one person gets married in order to take half of what the other owns and walk away. In a year long marriage, for instance, it’s hard to make the argument that one spouse contributed enough towards the other’s earnings to claim half of it. Of course, I mean that for marriages where the disparity is huge. If both people earn and own roughly the same amounts, they often don’t care enough about the division and work towards getting an easier, timelier divorce instead.

    I would be much happier if women simply started getting paid for everything they did, instead of having to hire a lawyer at the end of the marriage to determine how much they should be paid in return for all the unpaid work they did over the years. I’d like Indian men to realize how most of them can barely afford a wife who slaves for their benefit. The sense of entitlement they have towards a doormat for a wife would be taken care of with that.

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    • “I’d like Indian men to realize how most of them can barely afford a wife” – When men realize that, no one would want to get married. Most of the comments here sound as if having a wife is equivalent to getting a service from a physician or a therapist or a cook. If that’s the case, I would bet there is much more cost effective means to get those services than loosing half your property.

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      • If we reach a point when most men don’t want to get married, fine. I’ll call that evolution. I don’t see why constructs like marriage have to be artificially imposed on societies. If people who form that society see no need for it, what is the need for the institution anyway?

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      • Well why don’t you implement it then? Hire a prostitute for a few hours instead of marrying to get sex.

        Hire a cook and housekeeper if you want someone to care for your house and fix you meals.

        Hire a nurse if you want somebody to care for your ailing parents.

        I speak only from my own experiences.
        Here were my ex-husband’s expectations from me during our marriage:

        1) Make tea and cook for the entire family before leaving for work at 8.00 am.

        2) Come home from work at 7.30 pm and cook dinner for the entire family.

        3) Cheerfully tolerate any criticism, jibes and insults that in-laws direct towards me.

        4) Cheerfully provide sex on demand after a 16-hour day.

        5) Provide emotional support to spouse but do not expect any in return.

        6) Provide financial support and elder-care to spouse’s family but do not expect similar care for your own parents.

        7) Maintain limited contact with parents and natal family and only visit them after taking permission.

        8) My family could only visit my married home if my ex-husband approved and was informed in advance.

        9) Pay for your own personal expenses, save for your own retirement and old age.

        10) Do not expect spouse to pay for any medical treatment. Be grateful if he does.

        11) Cheerfully make changes to your diet, clothing and lifestyle on demand.

        12) Obtain prior permission from in-laws if going out with friends. Go only if allowed to.

        13) Be prepared for major rows at home if you return late from work due to deadlines.

        14) Staying home was not an option because the husband did not want to pay for my personal expenses.

        If this is how a man is going to treat his wife, then it is infinitely better if he seeks “cost effective means to get those services than loosing half your (his) property.”

        So please, go ahead, with all our blessings!

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  5. How can asset bought before marriage be added to the joint account? During the marriage whatever is purchased or gained should of course be equally held to both the parties. In case of divorce I agree any non earning partner should be getting a compensation even if he/ she is not the caretaker of the children. But why should this be related to their lifestyle during marriage. It just has to be something to live.

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    • @mithunbalan,

      No where in the ‘Right to Marital Property Act’ it is said that property or income earned before marriage is community property after marriage.

      The property or income acquired before marriage is always considered personal property and that earned or acquired during the duration of marriage is considered community property with equal rights to both partners irrespective of who was gainfully employed outside the home. For this reason it is a smart idea to sign pre-nups.

      About standard of living or support enough to survive or make ends meet, if women were to be paid for their unpaid domestic labor they could afford a better living standard or if they were not bogged down with this unpaid work they could compete in the open market and earn their living standard. Just wondering if did the children ever ask to be born into penury that their parents push them into?

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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  6. IHM i believe ancestral property and women’s right to property have a lot of issues. And most of them I believe sprout up with the clash between traditional households and modernity.

    Traditionally women have been confined to the household thus it is important to recognize a woman’s right to property. But the problem is why should a woman have access to property from both her parent’s side AND her in-laws when males don’t?

    It should very clearly be decided which property should one get, and only one!! In today’s world when women are working and earning why do we need to rake up issues like these.

    I’m not saying that women shouldn’t have right to property but I’m talking about rationality. Yes, property acquired after marriage should be joint- property IF one spouse is non- earning (which would usually be the wife) but otherwise if both are earning I believe it is every couples personal decision whether to invest his/ her money in their name or jointly invest in property/ shares etc in a joint venture.

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    • ‘Stree-dhan’ is commonly understood to be the equivalent of the woman’s share of ancestral property.

      Traditionally, women had control over their ‘stree-dhan’, usually in the form of gold and jewellery.

      Dowry, it’s monstrous modern mutation, is transferred directly from the woman’s family to the husband’s family.

      Women usually retain no control over their dowry after marriage.

      Additionally, they are also denied a share of their ancestal property because dowry has already been paid (besides the wedding expenses; again solely borne by the bride’s family).

      Most joint families (HUF) do not willingly offer property rights to daughters-in-law.

      The same argument that you make about women’s property rights can be made for dowry.

      Why should only the parents of sons be rewarded and compensated financially (in the form of dowry)?

      Why should men demand dowry when they already have inheritance rights to their parents’ ancestral property?

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    • Who said women have access to man’s ancestral property? It is woman’s children from her husband who have right to his property. A man’s widow is entitled to his share in the movable assets (income he earned) and conditional access to his ancestral assets, she loses this right if she marries another person who is not her deceased husband’s kin.

      It is amusing how nothing has changed in last 12 years because this is the same argument one of DG’s cousin gave in a family discussion and DG was permanently branded black sheep for stating the contrary.

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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  7. I think it is extremely difficult to implement this law.

    Lets take different scenarios of the total Assets (money, land, ornaments etc) involved in this law:

    Before Marriage :
    1) Earned by girl or guy before marriage and is on the name of their respective parents.
    2) Earned by girl or guy before marriage and is on the their respective names.
    3) Earned by girl’s or guy’s parents before marriage and is on the name of their respective child.

    During Marriage :
    1) Assets given by girls parents to girl.
    2) Assets given by girls parents to guy’s family on their will.
    3) Assets demanded by guys family (Dowry)

    After Marriage:
    1) Earned by girl or guy after marriage and is on the name of their respective parents
    2) Earned by girl or guy after marriage and is on the their respective names
    3) Earned by girl’s or guy’s after marriage and is on the name of their respective child.
    4) Earned by girl’s or guy’s parents after marriage and is on the name of their respective child.
    4) Joint Assets of the couple
    5) Earned by one partner but is on the name of the other partner.

    It is difficult to decide how the wealth should be divided between the couple taking into the scenarios mentioned above.
    If anyone can answer the distribution clearly, then this rule might get implemented.

    But if this rule is implemented then this might have other problems, like if a couple is planning for divorce they will transfer their respective wealth to someone’s name as they know that during divorce their half wealth will be given to other partner, one partner will keep a look on the other if he/she is transferring their wealth to someone else even if their lives are running smooth, parents will stop giving their assets to their married children thinking that in case their child gets divorced then half wealth will be gone…….etc

    According to me, implementing these laws will just make the relationships more miserable…..

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    • During M&As, valuations are reliably performed for the most intangible of things — for instance, brand equity and human capital.

      Assets, debts and resources are accordingly allocated and settled.

      Billion-dollar enterprises have found ways to divvy up assets and resources fairly and amicably during M&As.

      Is it really so difficult to equitably and amicably divide marital property and resources?

      How do US and European courts do it if it is indeed so very difficult? Think of a better argument please….

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    • @Navdeep,

      What part is difficult?

      If assets before marriage are considered personal and stated and community property is defined as earned and acquired after the initiation of the marriage and during the duration of marriage.

      Yes, people do commit frauds in marriage by transferring and hiding assets to avoid paying rightful due to their not so favorite spouse. Once a relationship goes south it is up to the partners how vigilant they are with the finances.
      It is not as if this has not happened else where in the world. Yes, change is difficult to accept because or assumed barriers and our comfort of the known keep us shackled to the old ways.

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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  8. in most places now for example if a property is purchased after marriage its MANDATORY to have the joint signature of the couple
    also if the husband wants to sell the property signature of the spouse is again mandatory in most case
    the basic question remains how AWARE are woman about their rights

    what ever a woman gets from her family belongs only to her
    if a woman who is married dies then all her bank accounts and fds are property of her children , husband has no right { ask your banker and he will confirm }
    even if the husband is the nominee he is mere custodian
    any thing that a woman got from her home will remain legally her children and in case she is childless her biological parents and siblings have a right over it { includes her income } and can be claimed by them
    but if a childless widow dies and if she has been earning and even if she has been living with her parents still the family of the husband has a legal right over her earnings

    the laws are very much in place and new laws are coming but the question is AWARENESS to know and also the willingness to excercise the RIGHT given to woman by law

    most indian woman feel protected under a “man” can be a son father brother or husband and they are totally dependent on them for all financial executions { even working and highly educated as well } AND
    they dont want to seek the protection of law
    most woman are willing to sign documents if the man who is their protecter has read them rather then reading the document themselfs
    why ?? i wonder , its as good as putting thumb impression

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    • //if a childless widow dies and if she has been earning and even if she has been living with her parents still the family of the husband has a legal right over her earnings //
      But this is just so unfair to the woman and her parents!! Why should the family of the husband have any rights over the woman’s earnings? To compensate them for the property the woman might have inherited post her husband’s death? Why doesn’t the law give a squeak about compensating the woman’s parents for the dowry/wedding expenses?

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  9. Pingback: NEW CONCEPT OF JOINT PROPERTY NOT KNOW TO OTHER PARTS OF INDIA EXCEPT GOA=Portuguese Civil Code. – (1) Where the husband and wife are governed by the system of community of property (known under the Portugese Civil Code of 1860 as “COMMUNIAO D

  10. This is a very tricky situation, I say so because I am actually caught in it at present.

    The dispute of dividing the salaries / earned money over the years comes into picture only when the money actually exists. In my case, my husband and I both have been working throughout the length of our marriage (that is more than 5 years). We had a joint account as well held personal accounts and the assets we bought or the securities we held had joint names too.

    During my pregnancy, I had some life threatening complications and for a period of almost eight months my husband handled all our finances. Our relationship went sour after my delivery and when things got bitter to reach the verge of a divorce, I discovered all our joint assets had already been mobilised in the mean-time.

    Now my question is, how do we now divide our assets in case of a divorce (which is inevitable) when they no longer exist in joint names? I am now ending up with a baby and no money to call my own despite having worked and saved for many years.

    To add to the troubles, my husband isn’t ready to settle the issues with a divorce cause of the property I have inherited.

    Making laws that favour equal division of all assets owned by both partners in a marriage, some very tricky situations will arise, very similar to what I am currently stuck in. If a solution can be found to avoid these, it’ll be useful to have some laws helping out the person in real hot waters.

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    • did you care to keep any photocopies of joint assets before they were mobilized
      if you have then you can use them as proof
      did u have any joint property , do you have photocopies of the same and if they have been sold or mortgaged original photocopies should still serve as proof
      THE IMPORTANT QUESTION IS DID YOU KEEP RECORDS OR YOU TRUSTED
      even if you have authorized your husband on your behalf when you were sick what was the authorization like ?? right to sell , right to invest , right to spend and to what limit
      and when you say joint assets were they really joint or just in his name and you as
      nominee , nominee is never joint holder , second name is always second and till its
      specified either or survivor the rights of first holder are more than second holder in most cases
      if a property is purchased and registered then at the time of sale you are authorized for prorata that is if you have put in some money in purchase then it should specify how much you put in and how much the spouse else only one who pays legally has a right to take the sale proceeds

      {since i am not a legal expert i am merely citing examples and actual law a lawyer will be able to give based on observations }

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      • By joint holdings I mean financial holdings in joint names (both partners as equal owners, no nomination).
        The trouble started cause me and my husband were living overseas (moved there after marriage and all our assets including my salary accounts etc. exist there) whereas I discovered about my pregnancy during our visit to India (and was forced to stay back cause of medical reasons).

        Like most marriages, our holdings too had the clause, “either to sign” that gave my husband the power to take all finances in his control.

        As far seeking legal advise I am in action, but things are tough for we are looking at big money plus involvement of international officials.
        The point here is, things can go wrong in a marriage at any point, but when we have a situation like mine, the law of the land becomes the major determinant of the outcome of the case.

        If we make it permissible by law to grant equal parts of all holdings partners in a marriage possess, in a situation like mine, I’ll be left with no money to call my own at a point of time when I need money desperately with a few month old baby to take care of (the longer the case runs, the few pennies I am left with will also land in the lawyer’s kitty).

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    • Hi, First of all I hope that you are feeling much better now and that your child is doing well too. I don’t know where you live and the laws there, but what you need is the advice of a good family lawyer.

      My understanding is that its impossible for parents to divorce kids, they sure can be disinherited but there is no way that a parent can legally stop supporting their child until he child is legally an adult. So, even if you divorce you are entitled to child support if you end up with the child for most of the time.

      When you inherited your property, and where you live, the laws there and the length of your marriage determines what happens to your inherited property.

      As for your husband handling the finances when you were facing medical complications is unfortunate, but unless he siphoned off the money to a separate account or transferred it to someone else’s name to prevent you from accessing it, I don’t know if anything can be done. He could have just spent it on shopping for himself, but still could argue that you did not object to it then.

      Also, depending on how long you both were married and how much you both made, you could get alimony too.

      Where I live, there is no need for both spouses to agree to divorce, if one person wants to end the marriage they can. Also when a spouse files a petition for divorce, the other person has to respond to it in 30 days whether they like it or not. If the choose not to respond the divorce will go ahead, but the courts decision will be final and the court usually accepts and grants any requests wishes of the party that applies for divorce.

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  11. IHM – this kind of law exists in the state of Goa – Uniform Civil code applicable to all communities. There are options – Share all property 1. from before and after marriage 2. after marriage but not the ones acquired before marriage 3. not share anything at all. The default clause is the first one and Goan lawyers argue that this offers protection to women even if the husband dies. Maybe.
    I will be married under this law but my parents feel that it will mean that whatever property they give me will also have to be split – they are not too comfortable with that. Either side can make misuse of this law too. We are free to choose option 2 or 3 otherwise.

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  12. At least in the US, asset-division after a divorce is in general in favor of the woman. In fact, even if the wife cheated and that led to the divorce, she could still end up getting a significant portion of the guy’s assets (even assets he procured way before their marriage). That’s the reason most really rich guys always sign a pre-nup before they get married. This may gain popularity in India as well.

    While the law is supposed to help women, as with most laws in India the women who actually need the help of this law may end up not getting it (for various obvious reasons), and those that do use this law may not be using it with the original intent behind this law. Similar to how the accusation of rape is a non-bailable offense, yet hundreds or thousands of hapless rape victims do not report the crime, while many others falsely report rape for their personal gains.

    My take on this is that any income or assets they make after marriage should be divided equally, although this will be a gray area in some cases. An exception should be a house. Irrespective of who paid for it or if it was paid for prior to the wedding, I feel the woman should get it if she’s also getting the kids. Without kids, it should also be treated as a 50-50 asset for the split-up (again irrespective of who paid for it).

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    • Nish, In most states, the cause of the divorce has nothing to do with the division of assets. And a spouse can go after the other spouses property or inheritance they got way before marriage is only when the prenup becomes void which is 10 years in California, if i’m not wrong. And division of assets in case of lengthy marriages 10 or more years is roughly equal and the only way one spouse can walk away with grossly unequal assets is when the spouse does not contest the divorce or ask for anything or if one party hid finances or assets.

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      • @Desi

        I may be wrong on this, but “cheating” based divorce cases often result in lower settlements than in neutral cases or where the other party was the one doing the “cheating”. Obviously this would differ from state to state.

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    • Cause of divorce has nothing to do with asset division in more than 28 states.

      Why do we have to search cases when DG is here🙂 she was divorced while she was in hospital and court granted divorce exparte’ because she never showed up. How could she show up when she was not even aware if a divorce suit was filed. Oh she could have been comfortably living if not filthy rich. Now her only option is to find an astute attorney with the money she doesn’t have to go back to court and prove that the God forsaken now ex committed a fraud. It is a tough job when you live in another state or country. Guess what happens? Nothing. Life continue…
      Peace,

      Desi Girl

      Peace

      Like

  13. I know that for tax purposes, a woman’s earning is only hers and the man’s is his in India. It is considered joint in the US when you are married with even liabilities and loans being joint – meaning if the husband gets a loan in his name, the wife is also responsible for paying it back.

    I think Indian laws are pretty good in this way – I think they were trying to ensure that there was ‘tax planning’ (otherwise known as avoidance) opportunities. The way we did it was to keep things separate for a bit, once we were pretty secure in our relationship, things got commingled. Of course all transactions are entered into with both names on it to ensure that there’s operational convenience and equal legal right.

    As for women knowing their rights, we have a ways to go. Even if the property is in the wife’s name, it is only paper ownership until the woman knows her rights.

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    • Sangitha, that’s not entirely correct. It’s possible for a home to be owned jointly by husband and wife and yet the mortgage has only one of them. If the house is foreclosed, only the person on the mortgage gets his or her credit screwed up. And legally, the other person is not responsible for the unpaid mortgage although collection agencies may tend to ignore that fact,

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      • While it *is* possible to get a mortgage in only one spouse’s name, in TX, and other community property states, even if only one person is on the mortgage, foreclosure affects both spouses – i.e. both lose the house, even though only one was responsible for the mortgage. In case of divorce, the spouse who keeps the house will need to give the leaving spouse their share of the house’s equity. Most community property states have the concept of separate property which includes all property acquired before the marriage, and inheritances received after the marriage. (Inheritance is separate property by default).

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      • There are states where this is true and states where it is not. Federal taxes are filed jointly if married and bring in another layer on top of it. I guess the broader point I was trying to make is that when bank accounts pay back mortgages, when accounts get commingled to make finances complicated, joint accounts can be a pain. This is one major reason that a lot of couples have single accounts and one joint account….not always a factor of ‘planning for divorce when getting married’ as a commenter mentioned earlier.

        Theoretically, in community property states, a creditor can pursue a non-signing spouse for the loan. That it is normally not done in practice is just how it ends up being because it is a pain operationally.

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  14. While I wholeheartedly support this piece of legislation, I do believe that such a discussion deviates from the core of the problem in a country where a sizeable number of women would rather commit suicide and die with “honor” intact than go to court and demand a divorce.

    IHM says that many women do not demand a divorce simply because they are not financially secure.
    I cannot argue with that assertion. But I think that it is only a part of the picture. In my humble opinion, the overwhelming majority of Indian women wouldn’t think about divorce even if we were able to assure them of complete financial security from the day they decided to file divorce papers (note that this is not the case here – the divorcee would be able to claim full ownership of their share of property only AFTER a court grants them a divorce, which can take a long, long time).

    Legislation like this one are undoubtedly required, but what is required even more urgently is a broader discussion on WHY we, as a society, consider divorce to be rather like a crime committed by a woman against her spouse and against larger Indian culture (whatever that means). Anyone who dares to try and leave an unsuccessful marriage must face pointed questions, taunts, jibes, and twenty seven varieties of unsolicited comment from those brave protectors of “our” culture, those valiant defenders of marital sanctity, those critics of modern immorality, the ones who live in every block on every street of this nation. Who will face up to these men and women? Who has the energy to deal with their vomit-inducing rhetoric day in and day out, while still struggling with the traumatic hangover of a bad marriage? Do you, gentle reader, have the strength to do it? Do you have the strength to bear with a twisted justice system while burdened with such social sanction? Do you have the strength to do it while your own parents tell you to “please adjust”? Do you have the strength to keep your tears at bay while the culture vultures crucify you for wanting to have a better life? Do you have the strength to go on when your own legal system, which is intended to protect you, tells you to go back to your own private hell? If you do have that strength, you are a rare, exceptional, unbelievably strong-willed person, and there are precious few like you out there.

    Let us discuss a spouse’s right to joint property, but as we do that let us not forget that we live in a country where divorce is a swear word.

    Let women be free, and let married women be free too.

    Marriage is NOT a sacred institution.

    It is liable to dissolution.
    Let us, as a society, accept that.

    Divorce is not a foreign perversion.

    Divorce is a legal way to end a marriage. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Let us hope that the Culture Vultures will eventually understand this simple fact and keep their overlarge noses out of other peoples’ private affairs.

    Commandment:

    Thou shalt not eye thy spouse’s 50%.

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    • I think spousal support has to be provided commesnurate to the couple’s standard of living while they were married.

      Also, spousal support has to be provided for half the total duration of the marriage.

      This is true for Virginia, not sure about other states.

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  15. Unable to contribute to this discussion.
    Been happily married too long to even consider questions like this.
    Never even once thought about this and it is too late in our lives to think about it now.
    After all these years, she is MY asset, I am HERS and everything else is OURS.
    Regards
    GV

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    • @GV,
      Everything doesn’t have to be about “ME.” We have opinions and views about issues that impact others even if we cannot remotely identify with them.
      Why do we need to speak up against cruelty to animals or dalit rights? Because every voice counts. More the better.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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  16. Assets earned after the marriage by both parties should be divided equally between them.
    So if one spouse has Rs. X pre-wedding and earns Rs. Y then both parties need to get Y/2 when the marriage is over. Because in the married state both parties are equal contributors- regardless of who earns how. The more time you spend with the spouse, the greater your opportunity cost of doing things elsewhere- sorry to put it in those terms but that is how it is. Fidelity, love and so on may be considered when making those decisions, but that is what courts are for. Oh and in the case of children, people need alimony.

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  17. Hello IHM,

    Welcome the change in Indian family laws. Any move forward in granting women equality and protection,however little is a good thing.

    How ever I feel strongly about a couple of things. One is ( now I don’t know if this is the case but I wish it were) that these laws should be implemented across all religions, caste, nationalities, if you are living in the Indian subcontinent as a couple. Because, a few exceptions aside the plight of women of all religions is the same. We are all more or less in the same boat.

    Second, while I agree whole heatedly that what belongs to one spouse belong to the other, things aren’t so simple anymore. So, I don’t think that from day one of marriage all of the couple’s assets should become joint assets.

    What each person brought into the union should be their own for a period of time. While whatever money they both make or earn after/during it, till the date of separation should be considered as joint property.

    Once that time of 10 years or whatever the law specifies is passed, everything is considered joint or community property. If the divorce happens after 10 years then both spouses irrespective of who the actually made money are entitled to roughly half the assets.

    Alimony or maintenance should also be calculated based on the husband’s income, the length of marriage the cost of living and the status of life the couple enjoyed. It should not be based on religious laws.

    Child support should be based on the parent’s income, time spent with the child, number of children etc.

    Anna’s case is typical of whats happens here, you sign an agreement to protect your assets before marriage, this works when either or both spouses have assets to protect. For instance if one spouse is older, earning a lot lot more and already has accumulated considerable assets, and the other spouse is just out of college and they get married. While both spouses will be considered joint owners of any money made or earned during the period of marriage ( lets say they divorce in 2 yrs) the assets that one spouse worked so hard for stays put, with him or her, if they had a prenuptial agreement also called a “prenup” in case of a divorce early in the marriage. This agreement is voided after 10 years of marriage in most cases unless otherwise specified.

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  18. Finances in a marriage can be a tricky matter. While I do agree to this law, the finer aspects and execution should be left to the couples, so that they can come up with an arrangement that works for them. After the husband and I got married, we had a very long discussion (spanning many days) on how we would manage our finances. How much do we send home to both parents, how much do we contribute in the housework, what happens if one of us takes a break from working, how do we manage our accounts, do we open a joint account and stuff like that. And, after talking for a long time we came up with an arrangement that works for both of us. We do not have a common account and hold individual accounts like before marriage. However, it is given that each one of us can use the money in the other’s account, but the actual control of our individual account lies with the individual. And whatever we spend, is split in the ratio of our salaries. Also, whatever were our savings before marriage is not split, and remains as the individual’s savings. Also, a lot of unpaid labor of housework, cooking and other errands is equally distributed among us, so the question of not being paid for unpaid labor does not arise, because both of us are doing it equally.
    But whatever the arrangement, it always helps that the couple talks freely about the finances and distribution of labor before hand, keeping in mind the worst case scenario of things going bad (and resulting in divorce), and come to an agreement that is logical and works for both the partners.

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  19. I think whatever they own pre-marriage is their to keep and whatever assets were earned by either one or both during marriage should be split…

    In our case i have considerable property , had it before marriage, my husband onthe other hand had zero property inherited, he however had cash/stocks etc., again not much but quite enough, If we were to split , i’d expect he would keep what was his and i would keep what was mine and split our home bought together and income earned during the marriage in half….

    I think finance is something every couple should talk about BEFORE getting married, how much to spend, how much to save and how much to BLOW….irrespective of who works ot doesn’t… having this conversation AFTER marriage is in itself a v v bad plan.

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  20. I gave my salary (on my own) to my husband for several years, he never asked, but I gave to ease his tension on money issues. Now I don’t because he does not need it.
    There is a mutual understanding, he has bailed me out when I was in need of money too. Marriage is a partnership and it applies to money management too, and it is a personal thing, what works for one may seem ridiculous to the other.

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  21. It is a weird situation for me. In fact, I think I am better off without equal division of our assets. We both have been working for the same amount of time and earn about the same. I have saved up enough , but he does not have any savings. He sends all his money he saves to his parents and they use it up (and they have two earning members there) . Net net his savings (which he has been trying for about 1 year now ) are very less.If his parents come up with some cock and bull story he will send them whatever else he has and believe me they are trying their best ! If there was a genuine need , I would help, but what I see here is exploitation . I would never share my savings on a 50-50 basis , I know where it will go !

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    • Thats a good point and I wanted to point out the exact same thing. In the case when both partners are working, can it happen that one spouse purchases assets in parents’ name and then claim some part of the assets of the spouse – that way the first one gets to keep the asset in parents’ name as well as half of shared asset. Is this fair?

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      • Yes, some creeps do that they channel finances and buy assets with their parents instead of spouse. That God forsaken now ex had a joint account with his mother that he operated from his work address. Again it demands the spouses be finance savvy, ask smart question, cross check the information, keep records. But when this is happening the question arises is the relationship worth it. If not then make it worth the money you need.
        If he is earning a salary then it is easier to keep track coz’ you can ask court for a show cause to justify lack of assets or funds; show the receipts for expenses.
        Peace,
        Desi Girl

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    • That is Kahani Ghar Ghar ki and especially that of so called love marriages, men compensate their guilt of depriving mommy daddy bahu of their choice with their earnings.
      Hope things are good between you both just keep the record of your earnings and expenditures for safety reasons.
      When we say equal division of assets it is also seen where did one earning partner’s income go- paying for up keep of his parental family or paying for his sister’s wedding and his brother’s tuition.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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    • @ A: I have actually been in your shoes and have seen all you just mentioned happen live. I totally agree to your point, though I am no longer in the capacity you are in, but still in my current situation (as I mentioned in my comment above) I stand against the ruling of dividing all our assets equally at the time of divorce.

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  22. I like the idea of implementing community property laws – BUT, only after the interactions with existing inheritance laws like HUF and HSA are thrashed out, so women are not further shut out of inheritances – many many women are unaware of their rights to property in a joint family as it is. Implementing community property laws (which usually include separate property laws) on top of these laws carries a real risk of harming more women than it helps.

    (Typical community property laws in the US (only some states have it) – implement separate property laws for property acquired before the marriage and all inheritances (even if the inheritance occurs after the marriage) while any and all property acquired during the marriage, by either party, is community property and is thus shared in the event of a divorce. While these laws *are* as subject to abuse as any other, the intent of the law does protect women).

    Any and all laws of inheritance can be supplanted by a pre-nup agreement and a will, so maybe instead of more laws, we need to insist on pre-nuptial agreements for all marriages.

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    • Prenups are great in choice marriages, but in arranged marriages, or semi forced marriages, when a girl is not yet 21, with dowry and horoscope matching… The parents might be the believers of ‘we don’t believe in divorce’ …and Get married-Stay married, I am not sure if daughters would have much say here. (specially now with some courts not trusting their hormones)…

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      • IHM

        At a very high level, a mandatory prenuptial contract that lays out what each party brings financially to the marriage, and what the terms of dissolution/death etc should be should gave no bearing on what the parents believe regarding the sanctity of marriage as an institution. Have default values in the contract for inheritances, salaries, gifts given to either party at marriage (including things like clothes, household goods etc.) And yes I can see the widespread scope for corruption here : plenty of grooms’ families will not want all gifts documented, or some oeople may document more than was actually given, but hopefully enough folks will see it as a useful record.

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  23. Mypunchingbag,

    It is relatively easy to convert joint assets to solely owned assets if both partners agree. Me and my wife have done this twice over the course of our time in India, (both times to reduce net tax liability). The reverse (converting self-owned property to joint) is in fact slightly harder and more expensive to accomplish.

    Since our taxable income is very nearly the same, we have a nearly even split of tax-saving assets (such as infra bonds and real estate) amongst us. If she earned a lot more than me, it would have made more sense (from a tax efficiency point of view) for her to own most of the assets.

    Somehow, neither of us has ever felt a real need for joint ownership. In the Indian system there are few benefits to that for couples like us. The vast majority of our assets are owned solely by one or the other, and should this legislation be implemented, we would probably just use the existing framework to revert to the same pattern of ownership.

    I do realize that ours is not the typical scenario for married couples in India, but the point is that adjustments can always be made regardless of the “default” state of affairs (which is what this legislation proposes to change).

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  24. I think property and financial assets acquired after marriage should be split evenly in case of a divorce…Property and financial assets acquired before marriage should not…Also, inherited property should not be split…

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  25. I’m late to this party but everything being “our money” – that thought makes me a little uncomfortable. The husband and I as yet dont have any joint assets (not even a bank account) but i think its more a function of we never had anything left at the end of the month to ‘join’ at any rate😀 Now that things are getting better, we’re considering our options at joint investments – but the money from that would come 50-50 from both of us. So that’s a no brainer – this is literally an equal partnership. But sometimes I wonder, now that his career’s taking off and he’ll probably end up making 5x what I make and takes over the greater load of our day to day + investing for our future and kids then what?

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    • KMKH: Well, my husband and I have a joint account into which each of us contributes a proportion of our salary. Say, both of us put in 30% of what we earn into the joint and keep the rest in our personal accounts. That way, its not an unfair burden on either partner.

      Now we use the joint account mostly for our travel and regular living expenses; at most we make small investments in fixed deposits and mutual funds. However, for large investments such as property, we have decided that we will pay equally. So we are considering buying land, and we’ll both be paying equally for it since it will belong equally to both of us. I think this system is much more equitable (rather
      than equal).

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    • @KMKH–we’ve had an ‘our money’ arrangement since after six months of dating. As of now, we’ve been together for nearly four years [married in Jan] so it’s nothing new. At first I was really weirded out because he was far richer than I ever would be and I knew he’d get paid far more than I would [his degree and field of interest would bring in exponentially more $]. It took some convincing on his part until I understood that he didn’t believe in a ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ set up when it came to finances.

      I don’t see this kind of arrangement working for people with different ideas about money–i e, one person who saves and one who blows it up on speakers and whatnot. Or it wouldn’t even work in a situation like the commenter above–one person saves and one sends all his/her money to their parents without taking his/her partner’s opinions and feelings into account.

      I think our situation is easier than people who have loans or who have to pay for their parents’ needs or what-have-you–when you take those things out of the equation, it’s easier to share.

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  26. IHM, I actually wrote the paper on Women’s Agency and Empowerment for the State Planning Board in Karnataka. In that, I proposed that we need to introduce community property laws if we want to provide financial security for women. I don’t think the plan went further than that in Karnataka atleast. I’m very encouraged to see that the Planning Commission is looking at community property legislation.

    In my opinion, all property acquired by the husband or wife before marriage should be retained by them individually. Also, I think all property inherited by either husband or wife should be retained by them, even if it was inherited after marriage (but again, this could lead to fraud). All property acquired by the couple after marriage should be split equally, irrespective of whose name it is on. Of course, this could still lead to dicey situations where one party gets unfair treatment – and I am still unsure what clauses can be put in place to avoid that.

    Ironically, if community property laws were in place and my husband and I were to get divorced, I would be the one at a disadvantage. I used all my savings from before marriage to buy property after marriage. That property is in my name. My husband has no assets at all in his name. If we were to get divorced, half my savings would go him. Gah!:p

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  27. Also, I think every couple should sit down and discuss finances before they get married. I read somewhere that a survey found that finances was the single biggest reason for fights between couples (this survey was conducted in the US, but could be true for well-off, urban Indian couples too).

    My husband and I had our fair share of differences too when we started living together. He thinks of everything as ‘our’ money, while I feel very strongly about ‘his’ money and ‘my’ money. He doesn’t believe in saving, and even after 8 years of working, has barely any savings. I’m not big on savings either, but I feel its important to save a little for emergencies. Finally, we have very different opinions on how to save also – he will want to park the funds in fixed deposits, while I want to spread them across mutual funds, property and gold.

    So after months of arguing over our differences, we have hit upon what is the best solution for us. Personal accounts for each of us, and one joint account into which we each contribute a certain proportion of our salary. We have classified what expenses come under personal and what under joint (including the dicey ones like gifts to family, etc. ). We have also agreed on how we will invest our joint funds, as well as the financial arrangements when either one of us is not earning (What can I say? I’m the daughter of a lawyer!).

    It sounded crazy that we’d sit down and discuss finances to such an extent, like we were in a contract, but to have that one talk where we agreed on our financial arrangements was extremely important and since then money has never been the cause of a single argument. It’s like that talk helped us find the magic solution!

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  28. I am all for protecting women’s rights but I think this bill goes too far. If a woman is not contributing financially to a property, why should she be given half the ownership automatically ? I understand that being a homemaker is a difficult task. And, that’s exactly why we have alimony during divorces. But, half the assets is too much.

    Rights and responsibilities go together. If one want equal rights, they should also be ready to bear equal responsibilities. If a woman wants her husband to help with the household, then she should also be ready to work and contribute financially. If the woman has also contributed financially to the property, I have no issues with dividing it, irrespective of who owns it. But, this law almost amounts to legal thievery. The only possible outcome of this law is the increase in use of pre-nups.

    And, all of those who are supporting this bill, would they also agree if a guy could get half the share of the woman’s property during divorce (which I think is also unfair) ?

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    • “Rights and responsibilities go together. If one want equal rights, they should also be ready to bear equal responsibilities.”

      Managing a home with all the tasks cooking cleaning, elder care, birthing and raising kids ARE responsibilities, equal responsibilities , on par with earning money. By taking over these responsibilities totally, a homemaker ensures that the other spouse has the time, and freedom to go out and earn.

      There is an opportunity cost also, by taking over the household responsibilities , she is giving up precious time and opportunity to go and earn money outside.

      In a divorce she needs to be compensated for all of this, and I would think that would be roughly half of all assets.

      Like

    • Assuming that the girl has given up her job to take care of household responsibilities/children on the insistence of the husband and his family, then do you still think it’s unfair for the wife to get half the assets in case of a divorce? In many couples, one partner may have to compromise on their career for the sake of the other’s career. Among most couples I know, it’s the wife who compromises on her career for the sake of the husbands career – for example, I have many friends who have quit a flourishing career in India to go join their husbands abroad, and now stay at home because visa regulations and the economy make it very difficult to get a job abroad if you are a dependent. How will this opportunity cost be taken into consideration when splitting assets?

      Like

      • I have a college friend who got into an arranged marriage with an H1 visa-holder.

        She quite her job and followed her husband to the US on an H-4 visa.
        Things went south after three years.

        The husband gave her an ultimatum, either find a sponsor to get a work permit and a job or return to India.

        As a former journalist, it was virtually impossible for her to find a sponsor who’d process her H1-B visa (this was in 2005).

        He also asked the USCIS to not process her green card application (he was the primary applicant).

        He took her off their joint-account, refused to pay her credit card bills and while she was away visiting family, packed her things and FedExed them to her uncle’s house in another state.

        Immigration laws in the US are such that you cannot legally reside in the country once you are “out of status”. The H-1B/H4 visas have to be renewed after the first 3 years.

        She returned to India in a state of chronic depression, filed for divorce and returned to the workforce 5 years after first leaving it.

        All this for what? Such hidden opportunity costs are not even on most people’s radar when they decide to quit work to follow their husbands all over the globe.

        What protection does the law offer to women like these?

        Like

    • Alimony? Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a woman to claim maintenance and alimony in the Indian legal system?

      Even if, by a great stroke of luck, she is actually awarded a substantial sum as alimony, who’s to enforce it?

      How many women have the resilience to go back to court to have their maintenance enforced?

      Even if they do so, who’s to force a defaulting husband to pay up; if he is determined not to?

      Like

      • I am not saying that the current laws don’t have any flaws. But, that doesn’t mean that we have replace one injustice with another. I disagree that the moment you get married, anything you come to posses should become a “communal property”. On the other hand, if the duration of the marriage, cause for divorce, cost for lost opportunity are also taken into consideration to arrive at a fair settlement, I have no issues with it. I am not saying that if Mukesh ambani divorces his wife, he owes nothing. But, it’s definitely not half his assets.

        Like

    • What should be the prize a woman should charge her hubby to carry a baby nine months inside her body ? If it is a surrogate then you got to pay a hectic amount. Surrogate mother may or may not breastfeed. Or you pay more. Which is better. Marriage and share assets or pay for ovum, surrogate, breast milk ?

      Like

  29. I am not sure which method of calculating assets is most just at the time divorce, As each case unique it is not an easy task.
    But I am sure about one thing. Current Indian divorce rate of 7% is going to double in a decade. In last decade there was a 350% increase in divorce in my state of Kerala! With weakening of patriarchy assured and feudal values set to change we should be ready for
    more divorces.

    Like

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