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Dividing the Family Silver
Chandralekha Mukerji Print Edition: March 2013

Your marriage may have failed but don't discard the wedding
photographs as bad memories. These can be legal evidence of who owns
the jewellery that you are wearing in these photographs.

Unlike property, where ownership is decided on the basis of who has
paid for it, jewellery belongs to the person who uses it, that is, the wife.
She just has to produce these pictures in the court to prove that the
jewellery is part of her 'streedhan'.

Streedhan is assets within a marital household over which only the wife
has ownership. This includes everything bought by her or given to her
before marriage, at marriage or during the period she is married. Also, it
can come from anyone-parents, husband, inlaws, relatives and friends,
or husband's relatives and friends.

However, there can be exceptions.

Let's see who will be the rightful owner of jewellery (includes ornaments
made of gold, silver, platinum or any other precious metal, stone or any
alloy) and valuables such as paintings/artifacts in some
common divorce-related situations.

Gifts Received

The definition of gifting is simple. It means transfer of ownership. It does

say. "Usually. the mother-in-law or the sister-in-law. oral statements are enough. a silver set. a gold chain given to him. However. these should be divided equally. while a car gifted to the husband at the time of marriage is his. it is streedhan. Other valuables such as a painting or. if any family jewellery is gifted to the wife. "Valuables gifted to the couple at the time of . a New Delhibased law firm. It belongs to the person to whom it has been presented. However. Usually. oral statements are enough to decide who owns the jewellery. the husband can claim that the jewellery doesn't belong to the wife but to. apart from a few items such as the husband's wedding ring or. The Chambers of Law In case of jewellery. Between husband and wife." says Anupam Srivastava. So. In such a case. it is obvious that the jewellery belongs to the wife. one doesn't need a gift deed to prove ownership. DIVORCE WOES:How to split money amicably Unlike in immovable property such as a house. received as gifts by the couple together are considered joint property. say. all items are assumed to have been gifted to the wife.not matter who the gift comes from. ownership can be proved by showing photographs of the person wearing the ornament. ANUPAM SRIVASTAVA Partner. it can be done by showing photographs of the person wearing the ornament. So. say. The Chambers of Law. But controversy arises when the couple stays in a joint family. partner. in cases where one has to prove ownership in court.

If one person wants to keep a jointly-held gift. 1955*. The wife can agree to return the item or the husband can pay the wife for returning the .marriage belong to both and can be divided according to Section 27 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Associate Professor (Law). Similarly. the parties can enter into an agreement. he/she can buy out the spouse." says Anju Tyagi. In cases where some family jewellery has been given to the wife. National Law University. "In a mutual-consent divorce. In such a situation. a valuable inherited by the husband is his. there can be any adjustment. But anything passed on to the wife from the mother-in- law belongs to her. there are chances that the husband's family may want it back. New Delhi. Inherited Ornaments Jewellery inherited by the wife is hers.

Items Purchased Just like jointly-received gifts. In case of inherited items. valuables bought jointly are treated as shared. It has been corrected to 1955. say. the holding period for calculation of capital gains will also include the period for which the asset was held by the previous owner. Tax Treatment If the woman sells a portion of the 'streedhan' (including any inherited item) after the divorce. Similarly. *The print version of this story had erroneously said that the Hindu Marriage Act was passed in 1995. DIVORCE WOES:How to split property fairly Though the wife would have the legal right to keep most of the jewellery.jewellery piece. if the wife has bought any jewellery item. In that case. the profit earned will invite capital gains tax. is assumed as 'bought for the wife' and a part of 'streedhan'." says Srivastava. it will be treated as his. even for investment purposes. for the husband. The tax will apply on the husband's portion of the gift as well. the husband would not have legal right on it. . any arrangement that is suitable to both the parties is acceptable in a mutual-consent divorce. However. jewellery purchased by the husband or paid for from a joint bank account. a ring. The same rules apply if the husband has received any valuable from the wife's family.