Tamil Nadu

Treat estranged husband like a venerable guest when he visits child, Madras High Court directs wife

A view of the Madras High Court Building in Chennai. File

A view of the Madras High Court Building in Chennai. File | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

In a judgment aimed at the differences between an estranged couple not coming in the way of their relationship with the children, the Madras High Court has directed a woman to treat her husband at least as a venerable guest, in tune with the Indian principle of ‘ Atiti Devo Bhava’ [Guest is God], whenever he visits their child.

Justice Krishnan Ramasamy wrote that hatred is an emotion that gets taught and does not come naturally to children. Therefore, poisoning the minds of children by one parent against the another will amount to “child abuse.” Every child has a right and need for an unthreatened and loving relationship with both the parents, he added.

Observing he had come across numerous instances of non cooperation and ill-treatment of a spouse whenever he/she visits the child in the custody of the other spouse on the basis of court orders, the judge said, during separation, the couple may not be required to treat each other with love but humanity demands to be nice in front of their children.

“Separation is a misfortune, not much for spouses, but great for the children who are the ultimate sufferers undergoing emotional pain and mental trauma silently... Every child has a right to access both parents and enjoy their love and affection. Whatever be the differences between the spouses, the child cannot be denied company of the other parent,” the judge said.

Justice Ramasamy pointed out courts generally permit a parent to spend time with their children in the custody of the other parents by taking into account the welfare of the children. However, unfortunately, the parent in custody of the child, in scant regard for court orders, end up ill-treating the visiting parent and end up quarrelling in front of the children.

“This creates a sense of panic within the child and he/she feels frightened and helpless. These feelings of vulnerability and insecurity can shape a child’s personality and last a lifetime... Severe effects of parental alienation on children are self hatred, lack of trust, depression etc., as the children lose the capacity to give and accept love from a parent,” the judge lamented.

He went on to write: “A parent who would teach a child to hate or fear the other parent represents a grave and persistent danger to the mental and emotional health of that child. Alienated children are no less damaged than other child victims of extreme conflict. It is the prime duty of parents to behave friendly before their children.”

The observations were made while dealing with a petition filed by the father of a 10-year-old girl child for joint custody and shared parenting. Since the estranged couple were residing in two different towers of a posh integrated housing community in Chennai, the court permitted the father to visit the child on Fridays and Saturdays between 6 p. m. and 8 p. m.

Directing the respondent/wife to treat the petitioner with courtesy when he visits her house, the judge wrote: “Further, the respondent/wife is directed to show hospitality by providing snacks and dinner etc., to him and have the same along with her child and create a healthy atmosphere so that the child should feel happy and enjoy the moments.”

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Printable version | Jul 21, 2022 5:24:15 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/treat-estranged-husband-like-a-venerable-guest-when-he-visits-child-madras-high-court-directs-wife/article65665596.ece