What is a matrimonial home?

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A matrimonial home is a house where the couple resided before the dissolution of marriage. It includes the property in which a wife stayed after the marriage and before the termination of the marriage. The legally wedded wife gets the right in the matrimonial house after the marriage even if the marriage gets dissolved. Section-19 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 gives the right of residence to the wife. This act gives the right of residence in a matrimonial house only to the legally wedded wife and not to any other even if the couple has been living together for a long. 

Right to Reside in Matrimonial Home

The act gives a basic and the most important right to the wife i.e. right of residence. The term matrimonial home refers to the house in which the wife stayed with her husband before the separation in spite of the fact it was an ancestral property, or a joint family property, or a property owned by her father-in-law. The wife also has the right to stay in the matrimonial property even if her husband is dead. 

Also Read: Can in-laws evict daughter-in-law from their own property?

These are some of the more important points about a matrimonial home:

  1. A matrimonial home is a home where the legally wedded couple stayed. A matrimonial home is only of the couple who are legally wedded. Any other couple has been living together for how long does not make any difference and she does not have the right to reside in a matrimonial home.
  2. A matrimonial home is one that is owned or leased by the couple. If anyone of the spouse’s name is not mentioned on the lease agreement still he has the same rights of the other spouse.
  3. There are certain things a matrimonial home  includes: (1) real estate (2) leased premises and (3) personal property 
  4. A matrimonial home cannot be sold without the consent of the other spouse. It can only be sold by the consent of both or with the permission of the court.

Both the parties have the right of possession in the matrimonial home and either of them cannot force the other to leave the matrimonial house. The same can be done only by the order of the court.

In the landmark judgment of B. P. Achala Anand v.Appi Reddy A37, the Supreme Court had clearly upheld this right of

Supreme Court stated that a Hindu wife is entitled to be maintained by her husband, she is also entitled to separate residence if by reason of the husband’s conduct or by his refusal to maintain her in his own of residence of other just cause she is compelled to live apart from him. Right to residence is a part and parcel of wife’s right to maintenance. 

The court further stated in B.R.Mehta v. Atma Devi 43 that it is high time to give wife or the spouse right of occupation in a matrimonial home in case of marriage break up or in case of a strained relationship between husband and wife.

In Hemaxi Atul Joshi v. Muktaben Karsandas Joshi 48, Bombay High Court

the husband had filed a petition for divorce and the wife had filed a corresponding petition to protect her right to reside in the matrimonial home. Prior to the filing of proceedings for divorce, the parties had shifted out of the joint family household into a separate apartment. The wife staked her claim of residence in the premises owned by her mother –in-law and not against her husband. The Court rejected her claim on the ground that merely because the wife stayed in the house of her mother-in-law along with her husband for some time, she did not accrue a legal right of residence in the said premises. 

In Ashish Bhowmick & Anr. v.Tapasi Bhowmick & Anr., Calcutta High Court 

In this case, there was a dispute related to the right of a widow to claim right to residence, the Calcutta High Court laid down that where the relationship between the widow and the husband’s family is acrimonious, and the parties are residing in the same house, an alternate accommodation may be the most suitable relief.

A woman has the right to live in a matrimonial home even if dad-in-law owns it

The Bombay high court has held that a woman gets the right to live in the matrimonial home even if it is owned by her husband or father-in-law.

Also Read: A domestic violence complaint against relatives who are not living with her


In Bharat Heavy Plates and Vessies Ltd., AIR 1985, Andhra High Court

The husband was an employee in a company. He was allotted a company quarter in which he lived with his wife. The quarter was the matrimonial home. The husband left the company quarter and it was occupied only by his wife and minor children. The husband also wrote to the company, terminating the lease which was in his favour. The High Court held that the husband and the company had both recognized the quarter to be the matrimonial home wherein the wife too was residing. The amount of rent was directed to be deducted from the salary of the husband.

Conclusion

The legally wedded wife has the right to reside in the matrimonial home even after the dissolution of marriage. The right to continue residing in a matrimonial home as a non-owner spouse is what we refer to as a personal right and it is personal against the owner-spouse.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Best Family Lawyer advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.