Courts Can Estimate Income for Maintenance Decisions: Allahabad High Court

In a significant ruling, the Allahabad High Court has declared that courts have the authority to estimate the income of spouses when determining maintenance payments, recognizing the practical difficulties in obtaining accurate income records. The decision emerged from a case where the income of both parties is often undisclosed or underreported.

Justice Surendra Singh, presiding over the case of Shaili Mittal and two others, partially accepted a review petition that challenged a previous ruling by the Muzaffarnagar family court. The family court had ordered the husband to pay monthly maintenance of ₹7,000 to his wife and ₹2,000 to each of their two children. However, the High Court has revised these figures upwards after estimating the husband’s monthly income at ₹60,000. Accordingly, the wife will now receive ₹15,000 per month, and each child will receive ₹6,000.

The High Court emphasized the necessity of this estimation approach due to the common tendency among spouses to conceal their actual earnings. The decision mandates that the revised maintenance payments should commence from the date the original petition was filed and be paid by the 7th of each month.

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The case reached the High Court after the wife appealed the family court’s decision, arguing that it had underestimated her husband’s income. She claimed he had multiple sources of income, whereas he maintained that he was merely a salesman in his brother’s business, earning a monthly salary of ₹7,000 to ₹8,000. Despite his claims of already providing substantial financial support for his children’s education and interim maintenance for his wife, the High Court found in favor of revising the maintenance payments to better reflect the husband’s estimated income.

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