Alimoney

Overview
Alimony or maintenance is a financial arrangement between the divorced couples. It is an arrangement by which a partner provides regular financial support to the other. This is only available for partners who have been legally married. Maintenance or alimony is generally given if a partner does not have sufficient wealth to meet the reasonable needs or if the partner is not able to support himself or herself and is restrained to be at home or if the partner has little chance of employment.

Alimony is usually granted to women, since they are traditionally homemakers, and thus find it difficult to support themselves and their children after a divorce. However, due to the concept of equality of the sexes and with increasingly economic independence of women, alimony can now be sought by either spouse, depending on the particular financial condition of each. Before the court awards alimony or maintenance, it takes into account various things such as the age, duration of marriage, the partner’s resources and employment opportunities.

Alimony or maintenance allowance is terminated in the death of either of the partners. If a person loses job or if there is a decrease in the income or if the partner remarries, then the maintenance or alimony allowance gets terminated.

A. HINDU LAW

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Section 24

It says that if it appears to the Court that either the wife or husband, has no independent income sufficient for his or her support and the necessary expenses of the proceedings, then it may order the respondent to pay the petitioner the expenses of the proceeding, and a monthly amount, during the proceedings, taking into account the income of the petitioner and the respondent. 

Section 25

Permanent alimony and maintenance can be sought under Section 25 of the Act.   Any court exercising jurisdiction under the Act may, at the time of passing any decree or at any time subsequent thereto, on application made to it for the purpose by either the wife or the husband, as the case may be, order that the respondent shall pay to the applicant for her or his maintenance and support such gross sum or such monthly or periodical sum for a term not exceeding the life of the applicant as, having regard to the respondent' s own income and other property, if any, the income and other property of the applicant, the conduct of the parties and other circumstances of the case, it may seem to the court to be just, and any such payment may be secured, if necessary, by a charge on the immovable property of the respondent.

Also if the court is satisfied that there is a change in the circumstances of either party at any time after it has made an order it may at the instance of either party, vary, modify or rescind any such order in such manner as it may deem just.

Further, If the court is satisfied that the party in whose favour an order has been made under this section has re- married or, if such party is the wife, that she has not remained chaste, or, if such party is the husband, that he has had sexual intercourse with any woman outside wedlock, it may at the instance of the other party vary, modify or rescind any such order in such manner as it may deem just.

B. MUSLIM LAW


So far as Muslim wives are concerned; a husband is under an obligation to maintain her under –

  • The personal law, i.e. the Shariat,
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 and;
  • The MuslimWomen (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.

Under the personal law a husband is bound to maintain his wife as long as she is faithful to him and obeys his reasonable orders. But he is not bound to maintain a wife who refuses herself to him or is otherwise disobedient unless the refusal or disobedience is justified by non payment of prompt dower or she leaves the husbands house on account of his cruelty.

Since polygamy is permissible under Islam, Section 125(3) of the Code entitles a wife whose husband has contracted a second marriage or keeps a mistress, to live separately and claim maintenance from her husband.

Also, if a woman has received upon divorce the amount payable to her under the customary or personal law then the Magistrate shall cancel any maintenance made in her favour under the provisions of S. 125.

Further, under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986, a Muslim husband is liable to maintain his wife after divorce.

C. CHRISTIAN LAW

Under the Indian Divorce Act, 1869, only a wife may claim alimony from the husband.

  • Section 36

Under Section 36, a wife may present a petition for alimony pending the suit. the Court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements therein contained may order the husband for payment to the wife of alimony pending the suit and that alimony pending the suit shall in no case exceed one- fifth of the husband’s average net income for the three years next preceding the date of the order, and shall continue, in case of a decree for dissolution of marriage or of nullity of marriage, until the decree is made absolute or is confirmed, as the case may be.

  • Section 37

Section 37 talks about permanent alimony. Here the High Court or the District Court may on any decree absolute declaring a marriage to be dissolved, or on any decree of judicial separation obtained by the wife, secure to the wife such gross sum of money, or such annual sum of money for any term not exceeding her own life, as, having regard to her fortune (if any), to the ability of the husband, and to the conduct of the parties.

D. PARSI LAW

A husband can claim maintenance from the wife under the provisions of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act 1936.

  • Section 39

Under Section 39, either the wife or the husband can file an application for alimony pendent lite. The Court may order the defendant to pay to the plaintiff, the expenses of the suit, and such weekly or monthly sum, during the suit, as, having regard to the plaintiff's own income and the income of the defendant; it may seem to the Court to be reasonable.

  • Section 40

Under Section 40, the Court may  on an application made to it for the purpose by either the wife or the husband, order that the defendant shall pay to the plaintiff for her or his maintenance and support, such gross sum or such monthly or periodical sum, for a term not exceeding the life of the plaintiff as having regard to the defendant' s own income and other property, if any, the income and other property of the plaintiff, the conduct of the parties and other circumstances of the case, it may seem to the Court to be just, and any such payment may be secured, if necessary, by a charge on the movable or immovable property of the defendant.

The Court may vary, modify or rescind any such order if it is satisfied that there is any change of circumstances.