Afternoon Voice

Legal tips for women in marital discord

I have started receiving plenty of calls of women who are married by their parents and about 1 or 2 years into their marriage, they start to feel that they are under house arrest and not allowed to work, not wanted by their husband and lack a social circle and are forced into dependency on either the husband or his family.

Most of these women are qualified and capable of taking up a good job and maintaining themselves as well as managing housework but have remained indoors either by choice or due to the decision taken by their spouse.

Unfortunately, the issue of female independence in this country is still not tackled or addressed correctly. It is also amazing that even parents raise their daughters to sacrifice her dreams, her career and put her husband’s career and his success should be on top in a woman’s list of priorities.

There is also a sense of shame attached, if husband is not doing better than the wife in terms of financial achievements or educational qualifications. It is presumed that the husband has to be better qualified than the wife and also have a higher income than the wife.

In most cases, it is not the human intelligence or the educational qualification or individual skill that determines which spouse in the marriage can earn more. It is a social unwritten code that husband should get paid more. Sadly even employers have the same yardstick and gender bias.

While some parents break free from the social rules and manage to get their daughters educated and independent or employed before they are married off, marital disputes may still arise when their daughters marry into families who do not share the same ideologies. Trivial matters such as the wife did not complete her kitchen work before leaving for her official duty can also be a reason for marital discord.

Although most women are able to find themselves some small paying jobs, enough to take care of their pocket expenses and basic necessities, the real insecurities start setting in after the birth of children. Especially if the husband starts losing interest in his wife and comparing her with more successful female colleagues or young and fresh recruits who have joined his workplace. And the wife always has a way to find out. Sometimes from the expression on her husband’s face and his behavioural changes or his facial expressions while looking at his mobile phone
While the ignorant wife is oblivious to changes in the life of her working husband she also continues to dress like her retired grandmother and conduct her lifestyle like a sadhavi lost in devotion and puja or a convent nun.

Her knowledge of current affairs begins to thin; even travelling in local transport appears to be a challenge to her especially if she has a child or two. Job opportunities have been wiped out as her peers have already filled up the market.

She is expected to appear enthusiastic and vibrant to receive a husband when he is back home but her mind is always riddled with confusions and guilt about what is her financial contribution to the marriage and towards her husband or her children.

Soon realisation sets in that she is unable to contribute in any manner accompanied by desperation and guilt which leads her to justify her demanding claims for her wifely rights. She becomes the slighted, injured, angry woman who needs everything that she has been denied due to marriage and motherhood.

While the husband is stagnating into the idea of his security at workplace, he notices his wife has become irritable and a silent volcano is building up.

And due to busy lifestyles and lack of communication and lack of interaction in the correct manner, marriages start falling apart.

Soon enough, these differences create large gaps and start looming large with visible signs of marital discords.

When these initial signs are ignored and not discussed between the spouses, prolonged neglect of such marital disputes may create situations where either spouse could get attracted or drift apart seeking gratification on various emotional physical and financial level from another partner.

These women want the divorce either on the grounds that the husband is having an adulterous relationship or has stopped contributing towards family expenses. Or they have themselves got attracted to some other understanding individual either an old school friend who has suddenly surfaced on the school WhatsApp group or an unmarried suitor within her workplace or neighbourhood who is enticed by her helpless situation.

It is also sad to notice that, once such distractions develop, neither spouse wants to sit down and discuss and find the solution to amend their own marital situation and bring back the romance into their marriage.

Caught up in such Deep challenges can a woman still conduct her marriage in a gracious manner is the question.

And if these discords remain unresolved and reach a point where either spouse is rushed for divorce the scope to save a marriage narrows down even more.

Handling Divorce battles is a sensitive issue involving egos, tempers, greed and irresponsible attitudes.

Nonetheless, when it is time to drop the curtains on a failing marriage, divorce may be a blessing in disguise.

Often times it has been noticed that a woman starts performing better in her career after taking a decision to file for divorce and ending the long waiting period of to do or not to do a divorce.

Tips to a wife caught up in a cruel marital situation

1. Know your legal rights but do not expect an instant fix

As a wife you can get monthly maintenance in a court of law, however, the amount depends upon the duration of your marriage, your educational qualification and past work experience and reasons that justify your inability or incapacity to earn your own livelihood. This is an addition to the delay tactics used by lawyers to frustrate the wife and cornering her to give into a lesser value of the settlement.

2. Is it better to agree to a settlement?

Gone are the days were prolonged divorce trials for justice were considered the only means to end a divorce. The trend in US and UK courts are to put parties to mediation to discuss settlement and for more than 10 years now US courts have adapted to this practice and the same is now also the case in India. While mediation officers are quick to understand and offer an amicable win-win solution, they can also ensure there is equitable justice.

3. What happens when you have children?

If you are dependent along with your children upon your spouse and in court if your husband delays or defers payment of maintenance after it’s granted, the only remedy you are left with is to apply for further reliefs such as attaching his income or get a distress warrant issued, etc. Hence a wiser idea is to ensure all your expenses are covered.

While it would be impossible for you to take care of yourself and your child’s expenses not to mention the troubles you will face to have a roof over your head, a lot of your energy will also get wasted in justifying your way back into your parents house and share their household with your brother or his newly wedded wife That again may trigger another divorce story.

Hence, it is better to ensure you make your husband take responsibility for the child from the beginning for all the academic, medical and other expenses and first fend your way to support yourself and then step out of your husband’s shelter to ask for maintenance.

4. How to cope with an adulterer Spouse?

Did you know that adultery can be a crime only vis-a-vis a man having a sexual relationship with a married woman who is enticed out of her marriage thus depriving the married other woman’s husband’s right????

Well so says the law. Women in India have legal protection under the law, whether they are married and in an additional relationship and also protected if they are single and sexually involved with a married man. Which means if you are a married or an unmarried woman, there cannot be an adultery criminal charge against you if you are in a sexual relationship with a married man?

So why does one go around gathering proofs of adultery? The only relief one can claim is divorce if you are in adultery in a family court and if the spouse is found to be in adultery, maintenance and child Custody issues may hold such spouse unfit parent. Nonetheless, visitation rights are still granted to even an adulterer spouse.

5. What about women and triple talaq?

Muslim ladies, please insist on registration of marriage under special marriage act, to ensure that you are not caught in a situation of unpleasant religious boycott for opposing triple talaq.

 

 

– By Adv. Pratibha Bangera