Maintenance of Chilldren & Aged Parents

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The obligation to maintain children is a personal obligation and arises out of blood relationship as well as a moral duty, which is backed up by statutory provisions.

Hindu Law

There are two personal law statues amongst the Hindus, which create an obligation to maintain children – HAMA and HMA

Maintenance of Children:

Section 20 of HAMA imposes an obligation upon the parents –mother and father, both equally to maintain the children – both legitimate and illegitimate. This is a unique feature of the Hindu law where both the parents are equally responsible to maintain the children. S.20 (2) of HAMA lays down that the children are entitled to maintenance during their minority. This right of maintenance for the daughter is extended till she gets married. The parents are obliged to bear her marriage expenses. However even after marriage a minor married daughter, if she is unable to maintain herself then she can claim for maintenance under S.125 CrPC. When an application has been filed under section s24 and 25 of HMA, the children are also entitled to get maintenance if the claimant has the responsibility of maintaining them i.e. the claimant’s right to maintenance also includes the right of maintenance of the children. Section 26 of HMA also provides that in any proceeding under the Act the court can from time to time pass interim orders and make provisions in respect of the custody, maintenance and education of the minor children. This is a unique feature of Hindu law where the maintenance can be provided to the children not necessarily under a matrimonial proceeding only but otherwise also.

Maintenance of parents:

S. 20 of HAMA also lays down an obligation of maintenance o f old and infirm parents who are not able to maintain themselves out of their own personal earnings and property. The HAMA is the first statue in India, which imposes an obligation on the children to maintain their parents. The obligation to maintain is not only limited to the sons but it also extends to the daughters. Under HAMA, both the mother and the father have an equal right to claim maintenance. The explanation to this section also includes stepmother in the term parent. However it is important to note that the section imposes an obligation to maintain only those parents, who are unable to maintain themselves and therefore the obligation to maintain the parents other than those infirm and unable, is only moral.

Parsi And Christian Laws

Maintenance of children:

Under the Parsi and the Christian Laws also there are provisions for the custody, maintenance, education etc of the minor children [1], which are similar to the Hindu law, even though there is no specific provision for maintenance unlike HAMA

However, it is important to note that under these personal laws, the maintenance of the minor child can be awarded only during the matrimonial proceeding and not otherwise.

Maintenance of parents:

Under the Parsi and Christian Laws there is no provision imposing an obligation upon the children to maintain their parents. The parents who want to seek maintenance can do so only under the CrPC.

Islamic Laws

Maintenance of children:

Under the Muslim personal law, legitimate (minor as well as major) and illegitimate children are entitled to claim maintenance. The obligation of maintenance of legitimate children is primarily on the father. (Which is different from the other personal laws which provides for an equal obligation on both the parents)

A Muslim father is under an obligation to maintain his sons until they attain the age of puberty and the daughter till she gets married. The Muslim father is not liable to maintain his adult son unless he is disabled by infirmity or disease. However if the father is poor and incapable of earning, then it is the liability of the mother to maintain the children. If both the parents are poor and incapable of earning then grandfather has to provide for the children. Whereas the obligation of maintenance of the illegitimate children is solely on the mother. The quantum of maintenance can be modified or cancelled on the change in circumstances.

Maintenance of parents:

Under the Muslim Law,similar to the Hindu law, children have an obligation to maintain their parents. According to Mulla, children in easy circumstances should maintain his father and mother even if they maybe able to earn something.

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