Parties will have to file affidavit of assets in matrimonial dispute, says High Court

Taking cue from international best practices, the Delhi High Court on Thursday ordered a major overhaul of the manner in which parties disclose their “true assets, income and expenditure” for determining quantum of maintenance in a matrimonial dispute.

The High Court framed a new affidavit format that is much more comprehensive than before to help the family courts, adjudicating matrimonial litigations, help gauge the correct capacity of the spouse to pay maintenance or permanent alimony.

“Maintenance is not merely a legal right. It is part and parcel of basic human right,” Justice J.R. Midha remarked, while ruling that from now on parties will have to mandatorily file their affidavit of assets, income and expenditure in the prescribed form.

In terms of assets, the new format mandates a salaried person to disclose the particulars of his employment, including salary, Dearness Allowances, commissions, incentives, bonus, perks, perquisites, other benefits, Income Tax, etc. A self-employed person is required to disclose the nature of business/profession, share in the business, net worth of the business, number of employees, annual turnover/gross receipts, gross profit, Income Tax, net income and regular monthly withdrawal/drawings from the business. With respect to the assets, the parties are required to disclose the particulars of the immovable properties, financial assets, including bank accounts, DEMAT accounts, safety deposit lockers; investments; and movable assets, including motor vehicles, mobiles, computer, laptop, electronic gadgets, gold, silver, diamond jewellery etc.

The High Ccourt ruled that the parties has to also disclose their standard of living and lifestyle, including “credit/debit cards, membership of clubs and other associations, loyalty programmes, social media accounts, domestic helps and their wages, mode of travel in city and outside city, category of hotels, category of hospitals for medical treatment, frequency of foreign travel, frequent flyer cards, brand of mobile, wrist watch, pen, expenditure ordinarily incurred on family functions, festivals and marriage of family members, etc.”.

Not just that, the affidavit must also disclose expenditure on housing, household expenditure, maintenance of dependants, transport, medical expenditure, insurance, entertainment, holiday and vacations, litigation expenses, discharge of liabilities, etc.

Justice Midha clarified that The new format will also apply to pending maintenance cases “if the parties have not already filed the affidavit of their assets, income and expenditure”.

“If the statements made in affidavit of assets, income and expenditure are found to be incorrect, the court shall consider its effect by drawing an adverse inference or imposing additional cost, while fixing the maintenance,” the High Court said.

The court asked the Centre to consider incorporating the modified format in the statutes, as in the developed countries. The High Court had examined the formats of the affidavits in United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Ireland, Australia, Singapore and South Africa.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 3:57:10 PM |

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