Mother’s Work Commitments Cannot be Held Against Her to Deny Custody of a Child

New Delhi, September 26, 2023 -In a significant ruling, the Delhi High Court has granted interim custody of a minor girl child to the mother during the pendency of a guardianship petition.

Background of the Case

The case stems from an order issued by the Family Court of Delhi on January 17, 2023. This order had granted interim custody of a minor girl child to the Wife/Mother, during the pendency of the guardianship petition, causing the Husband/Father to challenge it.

The marriage between the parties was solemnized on November 1, 2017, and resulted in the birth of a girl child on January 8, 2019, in Dehradun. However, disputes arose as the Wife/Mother, who works as a Geologist with the Geological Survey of India, had to spend a significant amount of time working in remote areas.

Key Arguments

The Husband/Father contended that the Wife/Mother’s demanding job, which required her to be away for extended periods, made her an unsuitable custodian for their child. He pointed to incidents where he found colleagues at her residence during her absence as evidence of her inability to provide a stable environment for their daughter.

The Wife/Mother countered by highlighting her dedication to her job and the fact that she left the child in the Husband/Father’s care only due to her professional obligations. She also asserted that she was well-equipped to provide for the child’s needs and that the Husband/Father had not been forthcoming about his own financial situation.

Legal Considerations

The Delhi High Court carefully considered Section 6(a) of the Hindu Minority & Guardianship Act, 1956, which stipulates that the interim custody of a child under the age of five should ordinarily be with the mother. However, it clarified that this provision did not preclude the possibility of granting custody to the mother even before the father’s lifetime if circumstances warranted it.

Mother's Work Commitments Cannot be Held Against Her to Deny Custody of a Child

The Court's Verdict

The Delhi High Court ruled in favor of the Wife/Mother. It acknowledged that the welfare of the child, rather than the claims of either parent, should be the paramount consideration. The court recognized that, despite the Mother’s demanding job, she had taken good care of the child during her initial years.

The court’s decision was also influenced by the fact that the child was still under five years old, falling within the age range suggested by Section 6(a) of the Hindu Minority & Guardianship Act, 1956. It emphasized that the mother’s role as a female guardian was especially significant in the case of a girl child undergoing physical and emotional changes.

Modification of Visitation Rights

While affirming the decision to grant interim custody to the Mother, the court modified the schedule for the Husband/Father’s visitation rights. It ensured that the father could maintain a meaningful relationship with the child without compromising her stability.


The Delhi High Court’s verdict underscores the principle that the child’s welfare is of paramount importance in custody disputes. It also clarifies that the age-based preference for mothers’ custody in Section 6(a) of the Hindu Minority & Guardianship Act, 1956 is not rigid and can be flexibly applied based on the child’s best interests. The modified visitation schedule seeks to balance the rights and responsibilities of both parents, ensuring that the child’s needs are met while maintaining meaningful parental relationships.

Download Judgment

Click above to download this Judgment in the case titled MAT.APP.(F.C.) 32/2023. It can serve as a valuable resource for legal reference.

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