In a win for women and children, the Delhi High Court ruled that a man could not refuse to pay for his son’s education just because the latter had become an adult. A petition from a man seeking to excuse himself from paying for his son’s education after the age of 18 was rejected by the court, and the court said a father could not deny bearing the financial burden of his son’s education simply because he had reached the age of majority.
The order came in response to a petition to review an earlier UNHCR order that he had directed to pay Rs 15,000 in temporary monthly maintenance to his estranged wife until the time their son graduated or began earning. The man asked to review the matter, stating that the son was already 18 years old and an adult.
Justice Subramonium Prasad of the Supreme Court rejected the man’s application, saying that the husband should bear the financial burden to ensure that his children are able to attain a position in the society in which they can adequately support themselves. This is because even after reaching the age of 18, a son may not be financially independent and may not be able to support himself.
“At the age of 18, it can be safely assumed that a son has either graduated from a twelfth grade or is in his first year of college. Often, this does not put him in a position where he can earn to support himself or himself.”
The court also noted that a mother could not be charged for her son’s education just because he had turned 18. Prasad said.
Earlier, the family court had ordered a son’s right to alimony until he reached the age of majority and a daughter’s right to alimony until she got a job or got married, whichever was earlier.
The Supreme Court said it is true that in the majority of families, women cannot work due to social, cultural and structural barriers, and therefore cannot support themselves financially.
“However, in households where women work and earn enough income to support themselves, this does not automatically mean that the husband has absolved himself of his responsibility to provide for his children.
She added, “It places the entire burden on the mother to bear the expenses of the children’s education without any contribution from the father, and this court cannot accept such a situation.”
The separated couple married in November 1997 and had two children. They separated in November 2011 and the son and daughter were 20 and 18 years old respectively.
The High Court was told that the woman was working as an upper section clerk in a Delhi Municipal Corporation, earning around Rs 60,000 a month and records show that the man submitted his salary certificate which showed his gross monthly income, as of November 2020, was Rs 1.67 lakh.
(with PTI input)