Children undergo a lot of stress even as the parents become vengeful and take the matter to courts. Recently, Justice A P Shah has proposed a few amendments to “The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act and the Guardians” which will have far reaching but positive impact on custody battles in divorces.
Situation at Present
One of the two parents holds the other to ransom, openly declaring that child’s or children’s custody will be denied, completely ignoring the child’s needs and desires when a relationship breaks down. At times, it is the breadwinner threatening to deny money for bringing up the children or for their education. They also ask detailed account for any money that is spent on the child.
There is general and ingrained belief that the mother would do a better job of bringing up the child than the father. And this view alone denies some of the fathers the right to be with the child or children they love so dearly. Effectively, it is the child who is a loser all the way. After all, he or she will not be getting the love of the other parent, who has been denied the custody. The child is also torn in the relationship issues and does not know whom to side if he is lucky enough to have both parents as loving parents.
According to the proposed amendment, the child will not be deprived of the love of either of his parents. Therefore, the custody will be shared. The second amendment suggested by Justice A P Shah is also welcome. As of now, women are entitled to child maintenance only till the child turns 18. But more financial support is needed at such stage for educating the child further. Therefore, Justice A.P. Shah proposed to increase the age limit from 18 to 25.
Indian justice system is notorious for delaying justice. However, the fine print of the proposal needs to be studied. After all, the mother may be fighting for custody knowing how wayward her husband can be. What if he is a pedophile, or drunkard who would not hesitate to sell his own daughter? In the present society, many are opting for live-in relationships. It remains to be seen if such custody and parental obligations are applicable even to children born out of wedlock.
Moreover, what happens to the divorces of the past? Will it be possible to reopen those files and claim joint custody now? If such cases are allowed to be opened, will the parent succeed in rebuilding trust? One thing is sure though. Lying infidelity, deception, and such failures to keep their end of the deal in marriage is not considered sufficient reason for denying rights to be a parent. Subject to such clarifications and considerations, the amendments seem to be in the best interests of the child, and the loving parent who is denied rights because of social prejudices.