Maintenance Under hindu Law

As per divorce under Hindu Law, the wife has an absolute right to claim maintenance from her husband. The provisions for maintenance to a Hindu wife are enshrined in Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 and Criminal Procedure Code.    

As per Maintenance laws in India, Hindu wives are entitled to live separately from their husbands without forfeiting their claims to maintenance under the following circumstances:

  1. Desertion by husband

  2. Cruel treatment by husband

  3. Husband suffering from virulent form of leprosy

  4. Husband having another wife

  5. Husband habitually residing with a concubine

  6. Husband ceases to be a Hindu, i.e. conversion into another religion

If a Hindu wife is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion, then she shall not be entitled to claim maintenance under Hindu law. She shall be entitled to be maintained after death of her husband by her father-in-law provided that she is unable to maintain herself out of her own earning or other property or estate of her husband, father, mother or children.     

Under section 20 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, a Hindu during his/her lifetime shall maintain his/her legitimate or illegitimate children and aged or infirm parents. A legitimate or illegitimate child may claim maintenance from his/her father/mother only so long as he is a minor.

In determining the amount of maintenance the following has to be considered;

  1. The net value of the estate of the deceased after providing for payments of debt

  2. The provision , if any made under a will of the deceased

  3. Degree of relationship with the dependant

  4. Reasonable wants of dependant

  5. No. of dependants

The claim of a dependant for maintenance does not impose any charge on the estate of the deceased unless a will mandates the same.     

Under section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 relief may be provided by way of maintenance and litigation expenses to either of the spouse if he/she is unable to maintain herself during the pendency of the proceedings. Under section 25 of the Act, 1955 both husband and wife may be granted maintenance and permanent alimony after passing of decree of restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, divorce and annulment of marriage under the said Act, if the husband or wife is unable to maintain himself/herself.

Permanent alimony means that it shall be payable throughout life of the applicant provided that such party does not remarry nor had sexual intercourse with third party after such maintenance is awarded. Also in case of change of circumstances the alimony can be varied, modified or rescinded.