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Wife seeks Rs 150cr alimony - Lawyers see spike in divorce cash demand

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IMRAN AHMED SIDDIQUI   |     |   Published 12.06.12, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, June 11: If the wife has her way, the husband will be Rs 150 crore poorer.

The wife of a Gurgaon-based industrialist turned up at a family court last week and demanded Rs 150 crore as divorce settlement to walk out of the marriage.

That is after both had admitted during counselling that they had extramarital affairs.

Sources at family courts in the capital said extramarital relationships among married couples were on the rise. “On an average, each family court receives ten to 15 petitions for divorce because of adultery every month,” Iti Kanungo, principal counsellor at Patiala House family court, told The Telegraph.

But what has surprised officials at family courts is not the “galloping infidelity statistics” but the amount sought as one-time settlement or alimony.

“The record book at the family courts are flooded with galloping infidelity statistics and the increase in adultery has also led to an escalation in alimony,” Kanungo said. “But we cannot remember anybody has ever demanded such a fat amount (Rs 150 crore) from her husband to settle a matrimonial dispute.”

The couple, both in their 40s, have been fighting court battles for the past year. The wife had moved Delhi High Court, accusing her husband of domestic violence. The husband had filed for divorce, accusing his wife of having an extramarital affair and also moved a lower court for custody of their children, one 23, the other 18.

Last month, the lower court, where the husband had filed for divorce, directed the couple to visit the family court.

“We called both. During counselling, they remained calm and agreed for a settlement. What surprised us is that both conceded having extramarital affairs. When we were trying to settle everything amicably, the wife took everybody by surprise by demanding Rs 150 crore. We have called them again for another counselling session,” said a counsellor.

In another case, she added, a woman decided to withdraw criminal cases against her husband and divorce him only after he agreed to pay her Rs 4 lakh a month as maintenance.

Citing another case, she said a woman asked for Rs 2 lakh a month as alimony after the marriage failed to survive even two months.

Counsellors and lawyers at the five family courts in Delhi said extramarital affairs were the main reason for divorce by mutual consent.

“Falling out of love has become increasingly common. Fast-paced lifestyles and death of the joint-family system are major factors. There has also been complete erosion of family values. Now women are well educated and economically independent and want freedom. Divorce rates among working couples, especially in the BPO and IT industry, are much higher. They spend little time with each other and get into extramarital affairs with colleagues at the workplace,” said Om Prakash S. Shekhawat, a lawyer who practises at one of the family courts in the capital.

Blaming both spouses for being intolerant, he said nearly 20-25 per cent of mutual-consent divorce petitions in the past couple of years were from couples who had not even completed two years of marriage.

Another counsellor recalled that a young couple, who married after eight years of courtship, filed for divorce three days after marriage.

“Their marriage could not survive even three days but they claimed to be madly in love for eight years. During counselling sessions they told us they were no longer compatible,” she said.

In some cases, said another counsellor, couples had filed for divorce for trivial reasons.

“Last year, a man filed for divorce after his wife refused to serve his friend tea. Likewise, a young couple filed for divorce as the wife could not tolerate her husband snoring,” the counsellor said. “So they moved from the bedroom to the courtroom.”


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