Family & Divorce Law

The Family Court challenges Outdated Asian Family Dynamics

Mrs Harbans Kaur was married to her husband, Mr Karnail Singh, for 66 years. However, when he died, he left his entire £1.2m estate to their two sons making no provisions for his wife.

29 Mar 2023

Team name
Jaspreet Pannu

Jaspreet Pannu

As is the case in many Asian households Mrs Kaur stayed at home to look after the couples seven children and run the home while Mr Singh went to work to provide an income for the family.  Mrs Kaur would not have ever had any money of her own or an interest in the family clothing business.  This would have been acceptable at the time as she was to be completely financially dependent on her husband.

Notably, this case is an example of the male dominance in Asian cultures, where women are disregarded, whether they are wives or daughters.  Mrs Kaur challenged her husbands Will and won her appeal in the Family Division of the High Court under the Inheritance Act.

The Court agreed that Mrs Kaur had made substantial contributions to the marriage and was dependent on her husband.  The family wealth had been built up during the marriage, therefore, applying the divorce standard, she was awarded 50% of his estate.

This article was written with information provided by the Independent. Mullis & Peake are not responsible for the content of external websites: High Court win for widow left nothing in will ‘opens doors to others’ | The Independent

M&P Commentary

Jas Pannu, Solicitor in the Family team said:

“As a girl in from a Sikh family, I have seen many cases such as this where the women have accepted the decision of their husband or even father.  It is inspiring to see women stand up for their rights and break away from outdated customs.  I have no doubt that Mrs Kaur devoted her entire life to her husband and family happily, however, the decision from the Family Courts will hopefully incite a welcome change where the males in such communities consider the possibility of their Last Will and Testament being challenged if it is not fair and disinherits the females in their lives.  It will also inspire women with confidence that their voice will be heard, and they will get what should rightfully be theirs”


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