Woman divorced on ground of adultery cannot claim maintenance: HC

Madurai: A woman divorced on the ground of adulterous conduct cannot claim maintenance from her ex-husband, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Justice S Nagamuthu said a divorcee would not have any right to claim maintenance if she “committed breach of the sexual obligation she had before dissolution of her marriage”.

He said an “adulterous wife” could not claim maintenance from her estranged husband. The same law would apply in the case of a divorcee also, he said in the order.

“A woman divorced on the ground of adulterous conduct would also not be entitled to alimony from her former husband,” the judge said.

The judge said this while allowing a criminal revision case filed by a government employee, who had challenged the Ramanathapuram Principal District and Sessions Court order, directing him to pay maintenance of Rs 1,000 a month to his former wife, whom he divorced in 2011 on ground of adultery.

He said that the definition of the term ‘wife’ included a divorced wife and Section 125(4) of the Code categorically states that no wife would be entitled to maintenance if she was living in adultery.

The very object of Code of Criminal Procedure (Chapter XI) was to provide for maintenance of wife, children and parents and rescue them from destitution, he said.

“Just as a man has an obligation to maintain his divorced wife, the woman also has an obligation not to have illicit relationship with another man,” Justice Nagamuthu said.

“The divorcee would suffer disqualification from claiming maintenance if she had relationship with another man. She was entitled to get maintenance from the person with whom she had relationship and not from the ex-husband,” he said.

Though the petitioner had obtained divorce through ex-parte decree, there could be no difference between a decree on contest and an ex-parte decree, the judge said.

“However, it is well known that simply because the defendant wife remained ex-parte, the court should not grant a decree unless the claim in the plaint was proved by evidence, either oral or documentary or both,” the judge observed.