The Delhi high court has said that a man cannot shrug off his responsibility and cease to pay maintenance for his former wife’s child from her previous marriage.
Dismissing a plea by a man against the order of maintenance to his former wife’s child, a bench of justices Sanjeev Sachdeva and Vikas Mahajan said that the man cannot be allowed to argue later that the child is not his or her responsibility.
“When a person solemnises a marriage with a person who already has a child, said person shall be presumed to have undertaken the responsibility of the child and also cannot later be permitted to contend that the child is not his/her responsibility,” the court said in an order of March 1.
The woman in question has two daughters — the elder was born out of her first marriage with an Army personnel, while the younger daughter was born during her marriage with the petitioner.
A family court had during divorce proceedings directed the petitioner to pay ₹2,500 to the two children for the first five years, and ₹3,500 for another five years. He was also directed to pay ₹5,000 each till both the children get married or become financially independent.
The petitioner had sought modification of the family court’s order to provide maintenance to both children on the ground that the elder daughter was shown as a dependent in an order issued by the Army, and a family member of his former wife’s late first husband.
The court said that it is not in dispute that the petitioner was aware that the first daughter of his wife was born out of her first marriage at the time when he solemnized the marriage with her.
“If the respondent had known that the appellant was not going to maintain her first daughter, she would not even have married him. It is not in dispute that appellant was bringing up the elder daughter and maintaining her till the parties fell out,” the order said.