Wife deserves a share in the Family Properties

Wife entitles to an equal share of family property

A wife, who contributed to the acquisition of family assets by performing the household chores, thereby releasing their husbands for gainful employment, would be entitled to a share in the properties, as she had indirectly contributed to its purchase, says the High Court of Madras in Kannaian Naidu & Others v Kamsala Ammal & Others.

The court adds this matter would specifically be considered while deciding the right in the properties, irrespective of the fact that whether the title stand in the name of the husband or wife. The spouse who looks after the home and cares for family for decades, is entitled to a share in the property.

No law exists in this regard, but court can consider

There is no legislation at present that recognizes the contribution made by the wife, but the court could very well recognize the same, says the High Court of Madras.

The Court added that the law does not prevent a Judge from recognizing the contributions. If the acquisition of assets is made by joint contribution (directly or indirectly) of both the spouses, then both are entitled to equal share in the assets.

Facts of this case

In this case, the husband filed an injunction suit in 2002 contending that his wife (the first respondent) had been trying to usurp the properties that were purchased on his behalf but in the name of the wife, while he was working abroad and from the money he earned.

The wife claimed that she was equally entitled to the property as she had looked after the family while the husband was away thereby giving up her opportunities of employment. She also contended that she had sold her ancestral properties and utilised the money for the husband’s foreign trip and apart from this she had also earned money by tailoring and giving tuitions from which, she had acquired some of the suit properties.

While the trial court decreed the husband’s suit, the first appellate court reversed the decree in certain aspects. After the death of the husband, his children filed second appeal before the High Court as his legal heirs. The wife also filed cross objection before the High Court against certain other aspects of the appellate court’s judgment.

Appellate court’s finding

The Madras High Court, by finding that the wife had also contributed indirectly for acquiring the properties, holds that she was entitled to a share in the same and the plaintiff cannot claim absolute right merely on the basis that he had sent the money to purchase the properties.

Further reading

  1. Kannaian Naidu & Others v Kamsala Ammal & Others