The Headline is Not the Story

11 Feb

When dealing with the law and court findings, headlines are frequently misleading. Family law doubly so, because they have to deal with stuff that shouldn’t be handled outside the family. So this divorce story is a whopper.

The headline is “Mere Possession Of Higher Educational Qualification Not A Reason To Hold That Wife Can Maintain Herself : Karnataka High Court.” At first blush, that makes me think, “Oh, the gold-digging ex-wife doesn’t want to get a job,” but a little further reading makes that clear, that’s not the story. The wife’s lawyer (who is an “amicus curiae” lawyer–friend of the court–so I’m not sure if that means she was court appointed or doing this for free) pointed out that just because you have two advanced degrees doesn’t necessarily mean you can get a job with them. And as my wife pointed out, often these are designed as part of getting a husband, and were never intended to be used. It’s what we used to call it in the US a “MRS. degree.”

The next obstacle to get over is that this case is in India–based on the British model–so not only are there different rules, there’s a different culture and location to be considered. The ex-husband is asking to stop having to make payments of 3,000 rupees/month–which translates to $41 USD/month. Now you might think, “What a cheap-skate!” and… well, you might be right, but when I lived in India (albeit 15 years ago), I made the equivalent of $300 USD/month (Rs.13,000; back when 1 USD was 45 INR) and we were upper middle class for the “edge of civilization” town we were living in. So you can live off that… but not very well, and certainly not in the big city of Mysuru (Mysore).

In this case, the ex-wife lives with her brother, and has for many years. How long is not reported in the case brief. However, the couple was married in 2003. Sometime after, it was discovered that there was a medical problem with her uterus, and eventually, she had to have surgery to have it removed. Read: she can’t have kids. Now this would put a strain on any marriage, so when he starts going out at night, she starts thinking he’s searching for a new wife, and the yelling starts. Eventually, things get so testy in the home that she leaves and moves into her brother. She appeals to the family court and asks for Rs.5000/month. The husband then applies for divorce and finally gets it in 2013, where the alimony is now Rs.3000/month.

So eight years later, the ex-husband is trying to get out paying alimony for a wife he only had for… a year? A couple of years? So his argument is, “she’s got TWO degrees. Let her get a job!” Understandable, but then it’s revealed that our ex-husband owns two tailoring shops, pulling in Rs.3000-5000/day. Mind you, he still has to pay 5-10 tailors in that shop, and rent, and supplies, but this is not sounding good for the ex-husband, even if you assume the wife’s lawyer is exaggerating his income.

Because this is India, the ex-wife can never get married again. She can’t have kids and that’s a deal breaker in Karnataka state. In theory, she COULD get a job (and probably does something), but she is black-listed from ever having a relationship. That means she’s a dependent on her family for the rest of her life. The husband is also black-listed, the main problem being is that he’s currently 52 years old, which means he was 35 when he got married… so he was taking his sweet time getting a bride himself. It’s hard to convince prospective parents to let you have their daughter when he’s got “divorced” on his marriage resume (yes, they exist).

In the end, the court found in favor of the ex-wife, and recommended to raise the alimony to Rs.4000/month. But this story takes so many twists and turns… and I had to skim the actual case brief, which the article has at the bottom of the story, but the news left out so many juicy details that make this story more interesting. But what do you think? Is US$41/month too high a price to pay for a couple-year relationship? Can (or should) the wife get a job? Is the ex-husband a jack-ass? Let me know in the comments below!

4 Responses to “The Headline is Not the Story”

  1. Silk Cords February 12, 2021 at 6:06 pm #

    Is the headline EVER the story anymore? LOL.

    This one is SUPER complicated though, given India’s caste system and treatment of women in general. Her degrees, for example, are hard to comment on without knowing what they are, OR if she had the aptitude and opportunity to study a field that proved real opportunity.

    • albigensia February 14, 2021 at 10:18 am #

      If I remember the case brief correctly, they were a bachelor’s and master’s in education.

      • Silk Cords February 14, 2021 at 10:39 am #

        Well, with a Masters in Education, she could almost write her own ticket here in the US (esp with the teacher shortage). In India though… who knows? I know they value education, but that’s not necessarily the same thing as valuing teachers.

  2. Imperfect Lady February 14, 2021 at 10:02 am #

    Mrs.Degree 😂😂

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