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A divorce is defined as the legal dissolution of marriage in court or through another qualified body. It can be an extremely stressful situation for both, the husband and the wife. In addition to the emotional strain, there is a number of legal matters that need to be discussed at the time of divorce which add to the stress. One significant issue that arises is that of the settlement of the property.
In this blog, we will shed some light on the property rights of the wife after divorce in India and provide some clarity on how property should be settled at the time of divorce.
In this section, we will briefly discuss the rights of the wife to immovable property such as land and buildings after divorce.
When the divorce is mutual, and the property is in the name of the husband, the wife has no rights to that property once the divorce has been finalised.
In the eyes of the law, the owner of the property is the one under whose name it has been registered. As a result, if the property is in the name of the husband, he is considered to be the owner of the property and as a result, the wife cannot stake a claim in it.
Here is an example to illustrate this. At the time of getting married, the husband purchases an apartment for his wife and himself and it is registered in his name. Over the course of the marriage, the husband and wife were living together in an apartment.
However, when a divorce comes into question, the wife will not have any rights to the apartment and the husband will retain the full claim to it.
In a slightly different situation, if the apartment payment was made by the husband as well as the wife and it was still registered in the name of the husband, the husband will be considered its sole owner. After a divorce, the wife cannot stake a claim to it unless she can prove her contribution to the property through bank statements or any other valid proof.
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In recent time it is increasingly becoming common for the husband and wife to buy property that is registered in both their names. This is being done for a number of reasons such as tax benefits and financial savings. In this case, the husband and wife are both considered to be joint owners of the property and after divorce, the wife can lay her claim on it.
The property rights of the wife can be defended by supporting her contribution to the property. Her share in the property rights will be equal to the amount of contribution committed to the property.
An important point to note is if the wife fully made the payment for the property and it was registered in the husband’s name, then as long as she is able to prove it through financial statements she can defend her right to the property.
However, if on the other hand, the husband pays for the property that is registered in the name of the wife, then after divorce the wife may not be able to claim her property rights.
Unless the court has legally declared a couple as ‘divorced’, the wife is considered to be the husband’s legal spouse. As a result, till the time the divorce is officialised the wife has the right to her husband’s property and so do their children.
If the husband gets married a second time, the wife and children will retain the right to his property. However, if the husband has children outside of their marriage, then those children are given a share in the property as well.
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Any other form of personal property that can be transferred from one location to another is termed as movable property. In this section, we will discuss the rights of the wife to movable property after divorce.
Stridhan refers to the property that is given to a woman at the time of her marriage. This includes gifts such as cash, cards and jewellery. The wife retains ownership of stridhan even after divorce.
However, if the husband has made a contribution to the payment of these gift items, then he may stake his claim on them after divorce.
The wife will not have any rights to the investments made by her husband. She will also not be able to make any claims on the insurance for which the premium has been paid in the husband’s name.
However, if the marriage was not legally dissolved and the couple was merely separated, then after the husband’s death, the wife may claim her husband’s financial assets.
Though it is clear now what a woman’s property rights are after a divorce, it is still important to know the rights she has to her husband’s property while they are married.
The wife will be authorised to a 50% share of the husband’s property, including his ancestral property. She also has the right to reside in the couple’s marital home and to be provided for and maintained by her husband.
If, however, the husband makes a decision to deny her the right to his property in his will, then she will not be allowed to stake her claim in the property.
The property rights of the wife on her husband’s property, whether movable or immovable, relies on a number of factors. Even at the time of divorce, the majority of disputes arise at the time of settlement of the property. One must be aware of their rights at such a time.
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