Valuing unpaid domestic labour in maintenance and alimony claims

Saumya Maheshwari teaches law at the School of Law, BML Munjal University in Haryana, India. In the past, she has worked as a matrimonial disputes lawyer before courts in Delhi and as a researcher with domestic and international organizations advocating for women’s and queer people’s rights. Presently, her research interests focus on economic entitlements within marriage and family and the processes involved in their adjudication before family courts.

Saumya will present her research findings on whether domestic labour performance influences the quantum of maintenance (spousal support) awarded by courts in Delhi, India at the time of divorce. This research is based on a close analysis of relevant case law along with the case study of a recently divorced woman. It asks whether Indian family law can be reformed to value and quantify domestic and care work (DCW) upon marital breakdown to determine the wife’s financial entitlements and whether such reform is desirable. Finally, it raises fundamental questions about family law as a site for solutions, and as a tool for redistribution of resources.

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