Grown-up child’s wish should get weightage while granting custody to a parent: HC
The choice of a mature and grown-up child should be given due weightage before awarding custody to a parent, the Punjab and Haryana high court has said.
The order came in the case of a Chandigarh child-custody dispute matter in which the father had challenged the Chandigarh trial court order granting custody to the mother. The 13- year-old boy has been living with his father. His parents got married in 2006 and he was born in 2007. As his parents developed differences, their marriage was dissolved in 2015.
The woman had alleged that child’s father remained out of the house for most part of the day as he worked at a tutorial. The environment was not conducive to the child’s healthy development, she had submitted. The father had claimed otherwise, saying the boy was happy with him.
The high court got an inquiry done from district legal services authority, which visited the family and interviewed the child, his grand parents and neighbours. The report was given in favour of the father. Subsequently, the teen was called for the hearing in the high court, wherein the judges met the child and he reiterated his earlier statement.
The court observed that the custody of a child can be granted only after satisfaction by the court that the same would be in the welfare and in the interest of the minor child. “It is, thus, not a very easy task for the Court to decide the delicate issue of custody of a child of divorced parents. No doubt, while granting custody, the paramount consideration has to be the welfare of the child. But if the child is sufficiently mature and grown-up to make a choice, then due weightage must be given to his wishes,” it said.
However, the court further observed that due to strained relations between the parents, the child cannot be deprived of love and affection from either of them, which is essential for the child’s harmonious and balanced growth. The court gave visiting rights to the mother and custody during summer and winter vacations for two weeks. It also said that if there is any violation of court’s order from father’s side, she can approach a court with her grievance. As and when, the son grows up, and if circumstances undergo some major change, the mother can seek custody, if the child wishes to, the court said.