I am of the view that the highlighted amendments speed up the litigation, reducing the time period in which a defendant may file his reply within 15 days from the knowledge of suit. Moreover, failure to file reply during this time period will result in the closing of the defendant’s right of defence, and the family court will decide the case in favour of the woman according to law. At any stage of proceedings in a suit for maintenance, a Family court may pass an interim order for maintenance. Generally, interim maintenance will be fixed on the date of the first appearance of the defendant.
It is my tentative assessment during practice, if a defendant husband failed to pay the maintenance, the defence of the defendant shall stand struck off and the Family Court shall decree the suit for maintenance on the basis of averments in the plaint, other supporting documents on record of the case and “fix an amount of maintenance higher than the amount prayed for in the plaint” and “prescribe the annual increase in the maintenance”.