Both divorced parents equally responsible for child's education: Bombay high court

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Both divorced parents equally responsible for child’s education: Bombay high court
© Provided by The Times of India

NAGPUR: Both parents should be equally responsible for taking care of their children’s education expenses, ruled the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court after an 18-year-old approached it, as he was finding it difficult to pay fees at IIT Dhanbad, where he has secured admission in the mechanical branch.

Dismissing the father’s contention that he is unable to raise the maintenance amount, as he has to look after his old mother, divorced sister and her daughter, the bench also held that “children must be the first priority of a parent in the matter of maintenance”. “Before the petitioner’s birth in 2001, his parents had separated and he has been residing with mother. Both of his parents are serving as teachers, each earning a salary of over Rs 48,000. It is, therefore, apparent that both are equally responsible to share maintenance as well as education expenses of their son,” a division bench comprising Justice Atul Chandurkar and Justice GN Sanap said.

“Even if it is assumed, for the sake of argument, that there are some other persons dependent on the father, the child must be his first priority in the matter of maintenance. If he fails to share the maintenance and expenses, then the mother would be required to bear the unnecessary burden,” the bench added, while asking the father to enhance the monthly maintenance to Rs 7,500 from Rs 5,000, with effect from October 27, 2015, the date on which the student had filed the petition.

The youngster, scoring 93% in Class X exam, had moved the HC after he was finding it difficult to pay the fees of the course at IIT Dhanbad. Till now, his education and other expenses were shouldered by his mother, while his father used to pay him Rs 5,000 a month, as fixed by a court. The petitioner had prayed for enhancing the maintenance to Rs 15,000, so that he could pay the college fees.

“It is seen that the petitioner, who happens to be a meritorious child, has been made to face this unfortunate situation. Considering his plight and needs, he was constrained to knock the judiciary’s doors,” the judges observed. The parents were granted divorce on July 21, 2009, through mutual consent. The petitioner contended that his father, teacher at a zilla parishad school, did not bother to maintain him nor took care of his well-being, after his birth. On the other hand, his mother faced difficulties while bringing him up with her meagre salary, the petition said.

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