Maintenance & Alimony
The first question that strikes both the husband and wife during the filing of divorce proceedings is with regards to the alimony and maintenance that’ll be declared by the court. The words are often used interchangeably but can be used separately following the circumstances of the cases.
In simple words alimony or maintenance is the financial support given by the husband to the wife after divorce or separation. It is legal obligation on the husband to help the woman survive after a sudden cut off of support due to the dissolution of marriage or separation of the parties. The concept of maintenance is not a modern one and has evolved from religious scriptures itself.
Know the Law:
The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance act is the main legislation that deals with the concepts of alimony and maintenance in the family law of India. It talks about who has the authority to fix maintenance amount, on what basis and other conditions required for granting alimony.
It is on the discretion of the court to determine the maintenance that will be awarded to the wife.
There is no fixed formula for granting alimony and it is decided keeping in mind certain considerations. These include:
• Position and status of the parties
• The value of claimant’s property and if there is any income derived from such property.
• Claimant’s self-earnings.
• The reasonable wants of the parties.
• Number of people entitled to maintenance. This may include the children and other dependants.
• Conduct of the parties and other relative circumstances of the case.
• Age of the parties and their health.
• The period of the marriage.
It is important to note that a wife may be eligible to receive maintenance while living separately without a divorce from husband. This can be in cases of judicial separation, desertion by husband, cruelty cases, conversion of husband to another religion etc.
When is maintenance given?
Maintenance can be given in form of interim maintenance during the continuation of divorce proceedings and then after the decree is passed.
It can be given as a one-time alimony or a maintenance given regularly and in parts. This can be monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or annually as the court sees fit and as is reasonable for both the parties.
When is maintenance not given?
Maintenance may sound like an inevitable effect of divorce but there are cases when it is not granted by the courts.
• In case whether the wife is unchaste.
• When the claimant converts one’s religion.
• When the wife remarries.