I have been talking on this topic endlessly to many women ever since I had put my first step in the family court seeking divorce. I must confess, at a point of time when a woman decides to seek divorce, taking care of her money, gold and assets that she might be having in shared holding with her spouse are something she bothers least about.
It was no different for me. Today, I am going to share a few of my personal observations and experiences on this delicate issue because I landed on a post on IHM’s blog where the anonymous email writer is actually caught up in the same.
We are all well aware of the fact that giving or demanding dowry in Indian marriages is a legal offense. But, at the very same time, we all would agree that despite this fact being known to all Indians, dowry is a practice that’s very much alive and prevalent in our society.
The gifts, gold and money gifted to the marital family are rarely taken account of because at the time of marriage the sole consideration is of the fact that the wedding ceremonies happen smoothly and marriage takes place without any hiccups. Within hours of the bride reaching her marital home all about the dowry is conveniently forgotten by the in-laws with occasional mentions of it being lesser than their expectation happening.
Time rolls on and years fly by, one unfortunate day if the girl decides to divorce her husband due to any reason under the sun, the money, gold and assets owned by the girl are again talked about. This time for a change, by the girl and her family.
When the matters reach the court, the most commonly given excuse by the groom’s side is that when the girl left her marital home she had taken along all the money and gold she possessed. This statement is the trump card to conveniently get hold of all the ‘Stree Dhan’ a woman is entitled to get in case of the unlikely event of a divorce.
This is the point, I have been talking about.
Here is when family and friends pitch in to reassure (in case the girl is lucky to have a supportive family) that don’t worry about the money and gold, they can be earned back. Buy your peace of mind and seek divorce. Forget all the money, property and gold. We’ll help you earn it back.
Great advise and it does have the tincture to help heal the bleeding heart of the woman already suffering the atrocities at the hands of false allegations made on her in the court proceedings and the agony of undergoing a divorce.
I wish to interrupt this thought process and share what I think should be done.
I agree buying your peace of mind and a divorce in return of money is indeed a seemingly profitable deal but in the long run it can snap the divorcee woman in a way that’ll dampen her (and her children’s) future in irreparable ways.
The supportive family and many helpful friends soon lose interest the day the divorce case is decided upon. The reassurances of standing by the divorcee woman and her children soon lose water and begin to fade away with time. I do not deny the potential of a woman to stand up on her feet and build a safe and secure future for her children and herself. But, we cannot deny the sense of security having some money saved for the rainy day gifts us as against living life on a daily earn and eat basis.
What should one do then? Should the woman hold onto her money and gold and let the divorce case linger endlessly?
My answer to that question is, NO
Don’t let your case linger, by appointing an experienced lawyer. By experienced I mean a lawyer who has had good exposure in family court and not a famous lawyer who is a master in handling criminal cases or civil suits. Making the right choice in appointing your attorney makes the big difference of saving you time, emotional distress and heaps of money usually wasted at the hands of ignorant or inexperienced lawyers.
Lastly but most importantly, keep records of all the money and gold being gifted at the time of marriage. It becomes a major evidence at the time of crisis because they can prove to be the only means of providing evidence in the court what all you owned as part of your ‘Stree Dhan’.
Living in denial that something so wrong as a ‘divorce’ can never happen to us is very easy. But, being aware of the world’s cruel ways and being prepared for anything wrong that may come our way always helps. So if you are about to get married or someone known to you has recently got married do advise them to keep all details of all the money, gold and assets that were gifted at the time of marriage.
It is a precautionary measure very similar to taking life insurance and wearing a helmet or seat belt. We do not wish to say you’ll be dying soon or will be meeting with a fatal accident but being cautious does help you breathe easy if (may God forbid) the crisis does strike.
So if you are contesting a divorce case or are thinking on the lines of doing so. I’d strongly recommend taking control of all your financial holdings and not letting go of them under any emotional blackmailing. Fight for your (and your parent’s) hard-earned money because your future and that of your children will depend on this in one way or the other.
Do remember, if this money didn’t have any value, your spouse or his family wouldn’t have been plotting ways to get hold of it.
Stree Dhan is a woman’s right. Fight for it.
The song on my mind : Kasmein vade pyar wafa ~ Upkar