Adult children: No right to maintenance

A few weeks ago, a UK Court dismissed a petition by Faiz Siddiqui, 41, forcing his parents to pay him maintenance for life. In the ruling, Lord Justice Underhill ruled, “Parents should be under no legal duty to support their adult children, however grave their need.”

Despite being Oxford-educated and a qualified solicitor, Siddiqui has not worked since 2011 and lived rent-free for years in a £1million flat near Hyde Park, London, owned by his parents. They reduced support after a fall-out.

The Indian law angle
In India, various laws throw light on the maintenance of children and parents. As per Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, fathers and earning mothers must maintain children until they become major. But once they’re majors and eligible to earn and can maintain themselves, they cannot seek maintenance or sue their parents.

However, Subh Jha, CEO and Sujit Jha, Founder, Legal Salah, points out the difference in the case of a daughter. “Daughters have to be maintained until they get married even after attaining majority. This decision was opined by the Supreme Court of India in Jagdish Jugtawat v. Manju Lata.”

Subh then shares that senior citizens, including parents, are entitled to maintenance under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 only if they’re unable to maintain themselves from their own earnings or out of the income from the property owned by them. “It’s clear that once children attain majority and are eligible to earn their bread and butter they cannot seek maintenance in the court of law,” adds Subh.

Property push
In India, right of property inheritance comes from Hindu Succession Act. As per the act, sons inherit ancestral property by birth and can file partition suits in the court or transfer undivided property to third parties. However, the right to father’s property does not come until the father gives it by will or dies intestate (without any formal will).

Sheelaa M Bajaj, celebrity numerologist, tarot master, feng shui expert, ceremonial high priestess and life coach, points to Article 7 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). “It explicitly mentions children have the right to know that they’ll be cared for by their parents. Once they turn 18 years old, they’re legally considered adults. Before that, minor children have the right to their father’s and ancestral property. But after that age, I believe kids should strive to become financially independent. No one should be living in an abusive relationship. The same goes for the parents whose children view them only as a disposable source of income.”

Wealth disputes
Poonam Mahajan, social activist and General Secretary, National Child & Women Development Council, considers it very unfortunate to see such incidents in modern society.

“Parents sacrifice their whole lives to impart good education to the kids so they can be successful in life, and in the end, when they need support and love, they have to deal with the legal process for their hard-earned wealth and property,” Poonam says. “I feel parents should never hand over their wealth and property to their children as long as they’re alive. They should make a will that their entire property will be transferred to them only after their demise and not before that.”

Talking about the rights of parents, Poonam also states that the Government has brought an Act to provide for more effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents. “Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 specifically provides for maintenance from children if the parents are unable to maintain themselves, but parents rarely file cases because of love and affection, fear of stigma and the expenses for the legal proceedings,” she adds.

Money drive
Legacy and inheritance are best imbibed through the right values from the right age. Parents should teach their kids the value of money by also giving them money with which they can do something, and not an amount that lets them do nothing. The latter leads to making kids grow up as insecure individuals, resulting in them taking actions against their own parents.

Divya Mohindroo, counselling psychologist at Embrace Imperfections shares her thoughts. “I feel parents are responsible to give security — monetary, emotional and psychological — to their children till they’re adults. However, children should learn how to be independent as they grow up instead of taking extreme actions like going to court because of their dependency and lack of courage in handling their own life, instead of supporting their parents in their old age,” add Divya.

Morals matter
Especially when raising an ‘entitled’ generation, some legislative changes have made some kids think they’re too powerful these days. However, it’s important to do what’s right, not what’s easy.

Devina Kaur, inspirational speaker, author, radio host and the founder of Sexy Brilliant Non-Profit Foundation, believes children have no rights to their parents’ wealth. She says, “It’s simply a privilege to come from a household where wealth exists.”

Anamika Yaduvanshi, life coach and motivational speaker, adds, “We live in a society where people take their relationships for granted. Parents nurture their children with all they have to provide them with a comfortable existence, but their children disregard their efforts. Typically, under the Indian parenting system, parents give up all their riches to their children who’re the only heir to their parents’ acquired assets. So the kids think they have their parents’ wealth as security no matter what they do or not in life.”

Not without father’s ‘will’
In India, right of property  inheritance comes from Hindu Succession Act. As per the act, sons inherit ancestral property by birth. However, the right to father’s property does not come until the father gives it by will or dies intestate (without any formal will).


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