A woman’s extra-marital affair is not a ground to deny the custody of her child in a matrimonial dispute, as it cannot be concluded that she will not be a good mother, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held.
“It is fairly common to cast aspersions on the moral character of a woman. More often than not these allegations are made without any basis or foundation. Even assuming a woman is, or has been, in an extramarital relationship, the same by itself cannot lead to the conclusion that she would not be a good mother to deny her the custody of her child,” Justice Grewal asserted.
The order came after a petition filed by a woman from Punjab’s Fatehgarh Sahib district, seeking custody of her four-and half-year-old daughter from her estranged husband who is an Australian citizen. The husband had alleged during the hearing that the petitioner was in an extramarital relationship with his relative.
“The child would require love, care and affection of the mother for her development in the formative years. The support and guidance of the mother would also be imperative during adolescence. The mother is the natural guardian of the child till the age of five years in terms of Section 6 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956,” the judge wrote in his order.
“In the facts and circumstances, especially when there is an order of the Australian court, the child is under five years of age, she is an Australian citizen and the petitioner is fairly well settled in Australia, I am of the view that it would be in the best interest of the child if her custody is handed to the petitioner-mother,” Justice Grewal added.