Financial Rights of Children and Wives under Family Law

Family laws in Pakistan ensure greater financial security for wife and children. The
wife is entitled to receive marital gift, to keep her personal properties and to
receive a maintenance allowance. She is not obligated to spend even a penny
from her income on the household. She is legally qualified for full financial
support throughout the matrimony; and during the period of Iddat in case of
divorce. The husband, even after divorce, is under obligation to give her child
Muslim family law casts upon husbands, a duty to ensure maintenance of their
wives and children. Husband’s failure to fulfill the responsibility as to
maintenance furnishes wife with a ground to file suit for dissolution of marriage in
a family court. The wife can also file against her husband, a suit for recovery of
maintenance in the family court in order to get maintenance for herself and her
Under the family law, a father is duty bound to maintain his sons till they
complete 18 years; and his daughters until they are married. The father is also
obligated to give maintenance to his divorced or widowed daughters till they are
remarried. In the absence of father the law does not leave the children helpless,
in that situation, grandfather is bound to maintain grandchildren.
Despite the clear provisions of family law about maintenance; and efficient
mechanism of their enforcement, the abandoned wives and children face severe
financial problems owing to their ignorance as to law.
Under Family Courts Act 1964, Family Courts have been established for
expeditious settlement and disposal of disputes relating to marriage, family
affairs; and connected matters. For achieving representation of women at all
levels of the judiciary; and eliminating gender discrimination, appointment of at
least one woman judge in each district has been made necessary under the law.
The family law provides speedy remedies to abandoned wives and children facing
financial problems. The law goes one step further for children; and requires a
father to give interim maintenance to his children even during the pendency of
the suit for maintenance.
After the conclusion of trial of suit for recovery of maintenance, the family court
passes a decree in favour of the plaintiff ( wife and/or child) directing the husband
therein to pay a certain maintenance allowance, determined on the basis of
evidence, to his wife and children. The court may prescribe an annual increase in
the awarded maintenance. In case no specific percentage of increase is
mentioned in the decree, maintenance fixed by the court shall automatically
stand increased at the rate of 10% each year. In order to fix the maintenance, the
court may summon, under the law, relevant documentary evidence from any
organization, body, or authority to determine the estate and resources of the

The father is obliged to pay maintenance to his children by all means; non-earning
and unemployment is no ground to refuse maintenance to his children. The
Lahore Court in Syed Zia-ul-Hassan Gilani v Mian Khadim Hussain case, declared
that the father could not escape from his responsibility on the basis of his poor
financial situation. The Court further held that a father, who is capable of earning,
could not argue that he has no property to maintain his children.
The father cannot refuse to give maintenance to his children on the ground that
they are living with their mother and not with him. The father is obliged to pay
maintenance even if the children are in the mother’s custody. In the case
titled Khalid Mahmood v District Judge Jehlum and 6 others, the Lahore High
Court held that a child’s right to maintenance is absolute and does not depend on
the fact of him/her residing with the father.
Abandoned wives and children are protected from financial problems by the
family law in Pakistan which also provides an effective mechanism to force the
husband to maintain his wife and children to the best of his financial position.

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