Bombay High Court recently issued a statement while hearing a case that a woman who has left her matrimonial house before her divorce does not have the right to reside in that house, even if the appeal against the divorce decree is pending.
The Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court, Justice Sandipkumar More stated that a woman who left her in-law’s house before her divorce cannot seek the right to reside in it after divorce. The woman claimed that under Section 17 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, she had possession rights to the shared household of her in-laws. However, Justice More reportedly stated that possession rights would not be granted if the wife had already left the house before the divorce was finalised.
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Women Who Leave Matrimonial House Before Divorce Lose Right To Reside
The court pointed out that when the divorce between the woman and her husband was legally finalised years ago and when she had left the shared household four years before, she cannot reclaim it owing to the Divorce Act. The court said that she was not entitled to relief of restraining dispossession since she was not in possession of the shared household.
A lower court Magistrate allowed the wife the right to reside in her in-laws’ house which was the shared household and to grant her access to facilities.
The in-laws filed a revision application challenging the order claiming that the divorce of their son and his wife was finalised on July 10, 2018. They also claimed that the woman filed an appeal to challenge the divorce order which is pending in court.
The high court observed that the woman left her matrimonial house long before the divorce was finalised. She also could not present any record to prove that she was forced to leave the shared household. Under such circumstances, the court said that it can’t grant possession rights even if an appeal against the divorce order was pending in court.
In its statement, the bench reportedly said, “Therefore, I come to the conclusion that she being a divorced wife, is not entitled to claim residence order or implementation of earlier residence order in the light of changed circumstances… I am of the opinion that the Magistrate has definitely erred in directing the applicants to provide one room to her in the shared household.“