Adopted children will enjoy the same rights as biological ones in getting a share in property or financial compensation from their fathers in the event of the marriage breaking down, once Lok Sabha passes a bill for making divorce woman-friendly.
The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, passed by Rajya Sabha on Monday, seeks to put an end to long legal battles and other difficulties faced by women after their marriages are over, and includes the specific clause that there would be no distinction between adopted and biological children.
It will be applicable in cases where marriages have been solemnised under the Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriages Act.
The proposed law clearly states that the definition of children will include “minor and adopted children, unmarried or widowed daughters who do not have the financial resources, and children who, because of special conditions of physical or mental health, need looking after and do not have the financial resources to support themselves.”
It also says courts will have the power to reject divorce petitions in cases where they are convinced the woman and her children will “face grave financial hardships” on termination of the marriage.
“The court shall not pass a decree of divorce unless it is satisfied that adequate provision for the maintenance of children born out of the marriage has been made consistently with the financial capacity of the parties to the marriage,” the bill states.
This will be the second law in the country after The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act of 2000 to give equal rights to adopted and biological children. The need to remove this distinction was felt since the oldest law on adoptions, the Guardian and Wards Act of 1890, states that a parent who adopts is a ‘guardian’ and the child a ‘ward’, which means the latter does not have the same rights as a biological child.