Maintenance in Divorce Case- All about it.
- by Social Laws Today
- March 16, 2023
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Concept of Maintenance in Divorce
In India, the concept of maintenance after divorce is governed by the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
Under these laws, both men and women have the right to claim maintenance from their spouses after divorce. However, there are certain conditions that must be met in order for a person to be eligible for maintenance.
One such condition is that the person seeking maintenance must be unable to support themselves financially. This means that they must not have any independent source of income, property, or means of livelihood.
There is no provision in the law that disqualifies women from claiming maintenance after divorce. The law explicitly grants women the right to claim maintenance from their husbands if they cannot support themselves financially.
However, there have been cases where women have been denied maintenance on the grounds that they are capable of supporting themselves. This is usually because they have a job or some other source of income that the court considers sufficient for their needs.
It is important to note that each case is decided on its own merits. The court takes into account various factors such as the income and expenses of both parties, their standard of living during the marriage, and their individual needs and obligations.
Indian law does not explicitly prohibit women from seeking maintenance after divorce. The court assesses each case individually, considering various factors before reaching a verdict.
Types of Maintenance in Divorce Cases:
In a divorce case, there are generally two types of maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support):
1) Temporary Maintenance:
Maintenance of this type is awarded during the divorce proceedings to keep the status quo while the case is ongoing. Interim support is granted to prevent financial hardship during divorce proceedings.
2) Permanent Maintenance:
This type of maintenance is granted after the divorce has been finalized and is intended to provide ongoing financial support to the lower-earning spouse. Permanent maintenance can be granted for a set period of time, until the recipient spouse remarries, or until the death of either party.
The granting of either type of maintenance is typically based on a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the income and earning potential of each spouse, the standard of living established during the marriage, and the needs of the recipient spouse. The specific criteria for granting maintenance can vary depending on the jurisdiction in which the divorce case is being heard.
For detailed article on whether or not you can sue your Ex for emotional distress during divorce refers to: https://sociallawstoday.com/can-i-sue-my-ex-for-emotional-distress-during-a-divorce/
Different Laws relating to Divorce in India.
The laws relating to divorce in India vary depending on the religion of the parties involved. Here is a brief overview:
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955:
This act governs divorce among Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains. It provides for both fault-based and no-fault divorce. A divorce can be granted on grounds such as cruelty, adultery, desertion, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, and incurable illness. A couple can also seek divorce by mutual consent.
Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937:
This act applies to Muslims in India and provides for divorce by the husband’s unilateral pronouncement (talaq), by mutual consent (mubarat), and by judicial decree (khula). The grounds for seeking divorce include cruelty, desertion, and non-payment of maintenance.
Special Marriage Act, 1954:
This act applies to marriages between people of different religions or castes. It provides for divorce on the same grounds as the Hindu Marriage Act and also allows for divorce by mutual consent.
Indian Divorce Act, 1869:
This act applies to Christians in India and provides for divorce on grounds such as adultery, cruelty, desertion, and conversion to another religion. Divorce by mutual consent is also allowed.
In all cases, the process of seeking divorce involves filing a petition in the appropriate court, attending hearings, and complying with any orders made by the court regarding alimony, child custody, and property division. It is important to note that divorce laws in India are subject to change and may differ from state to state
What Court Assesses while granting Maintenance?
Maintenance, also known as alimony, is a legal obligation that a person has to provide financial support to their spouse after divorce or separation. In order for a court to grant maintenance, several essential conditions must be met. These conditions include:
The reasonable needs of the spouse who is claiming maintenance:
The spouse who is seeking maintenance must demonstrate that they have reasonable needs, such as the need for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.
The status of both parties:
The court will take into account the status of both parties, including their income, earning capacity, age, health, and other relevant factors.
The independent income and property owned by the spouse claiming maintenance:
The court will also consider the spouse’s independent income, assets, and property to determine their financial needs and the amount of maintenance they require.
The number of persons the spouse providing maintenance has to maintain apart from the claimant:
The court will consider the financial obligations of the spouse providing maintenance, such as supporting children or other dependents.
The lifestyle that the spouse claiming maintenance used to enjoy in their matrimonial home:
The court will consider the lifestyle and standard of living that the spouse seeking maintenance enjoyed during the marriage, and may award maintenance to maintain that standard of living.
The liabilities of the spouse who is providing maintenance:
The court will consider the financial obligations and liabilities of the spouse providing maintenance, such as debts or other financial obligations.
The provisions of basic necessities of the spouse who is claiming maintenance:
The court will ensure that the spouse seeking maintenance has their basic needs met, such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care.
The court may use its discretion when all specific sources of income of the spouse providing maintenance are undisclosed:
If the spouse providing maintenance has undisclosed sources of income, the court may use its discretion to award maintenance based on other factors.
The spouse paying maintenance must discharge the cost of litigation of the divorce proceedings:
The spouse who is providing maintenance must also bear the cost of the litigation of the divorce proceedings.
When Maintenance rights cease at the discretion of Courts:
Maintenance rights cease if the divorced woman remarries or is involved with another person. The husband can bring the matter before the court to modify or rescind the order of maintenance in such cases.
- The woman is not entitled to divorce maintenance if she has a job and earns enough to maintain a standard life, which is subjective in nature.
- The wife can be refused maintenance on grounds of adultery, where she has committed an act of adultery during her marriage.
- The wife may also be refused maintenance if she has refused to reside with her husband without proper reasons, and she has to satisfy the court of the reason for doing so.
- If both the wife and husband have been living separately by mutual consent, then the wife shall not be entitled to any maintenance.
Related Case laws when Maintenance not granted by Competent Courts:
Mamta Jaiswal Vs. Rajesh Jaiswal, Madhya Pradesh High Court Civil Revision No.1290 of 1999 decided on 24.03.2000.
The case involves a dispute between spouses who were seeking a divorce. The wife had requested pendente-lite alimony from her husband during the pendency of the matrimonial petition. The court held that spouses, who are well-qualified, cannot sit idle and expect to receive alimony without making any efforts to support themselves.
The Court further held that the purpose of Section 24 of the law(Hindu Marriage Act) is not to create an army of idle individuals who wait for alimony to be awarded to them. The court emphasized that everyone has to make sincere efforts to earn a living and maintain themselves. The law does not help indolent or idle people, and it does not want to create an army of self-made lazy individuals. The court also noted that allowing such individuals to remain idle and prolong litigation could harm the health of society. The law was enacted for needy persons who are unable to support themselves despite sincere efforts and need to fight litigation using their hard-earned money. The court emphasized that pendente lite alimony is not meant to encourage idleness or discourage the hard work and self-sufficiency of individuals.
In the case of Damanreet Kaur Vs. Indermet Juneja & Anr.,
The court held that if the wife was previously employed and resigned from her job, she cannot claim maintenance under the Domestic Violence Act. However, the question of whether she was forced to resign or resigned voluntarily is a matter for the court to consider during trial. The court also needs to determine if the reasons given by her for resigning were satisfactory or not.
In the case of Vijay Kumar Vs. Harsh Lata Aggarwal,
The court held that if the income of both spouses is almost similar, and they are equally qualified, then there is no justification for granting interim maintenance to the wife. In such a situation, the court may not award any maintenance to the wife.
In the case of Bhushan Kumar Meen Vs. Mansi Meen,
The Supreme Court reduced the maintenance amount from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 5,000 per month, which was granted by the lower court to the wife. The court observed that the wife was not currently employed or there was no evidence to indicate that she was engaged in any gainful work. However, considering her qualifications, the court suggested that she should be able to maintain herself in the future.
In all cases, the courts have emphasized the importance of considering the qualifications and employability of the spouse seeking maintenance. The courts have also considered that maintenance cannot be granted as a means of supporting idleness and that the law intends to assist only those who are genuinely in need. The courts have recognized the need to discourage prolonging litigation for the sake of extracting pendente-lite alimony and the importance of encouraging sincere efforts towards amicable settlement of matrimonial disputes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is maintenance in a divorce case?
Maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support, is a financial payment made by one spouse to the other during or after a divorce, intended to provide for the recipient’s needs and maintain their standard of living.
Who is eligible to receive maintenance?
Either spouse may be eligible to receive maintenance, although it is usually awarded to the lower-earning spouse or the spouse who is unable to support themselves financially.
How is the amount of maintenance determined?
The amount of maintenance is typically determined by taking into account several factors, such as the length of the marriage, the income and earning potential of each spouse, the standard of living established during the marriage, and the needs of the recipient spouse.
How long does maintenance last?
The duration of maintenance can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case. It can be temporary or permanent and may be awarded for a specific period of time or until the recipient’s spouse remarries or dies.
Can maintenance be modified or terminated?
Yes, maintenance can be modified or terminated if there is a change in circumstances, such as an increase or decrease in the income of either spouse or if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates with another person.
Can maintenance be enforced if the paying spouse fails to make payments?
Yes, maintenance can be enforced through legal action if the paying spouse fails to make payments. The recipient spouse may seek an enforcement order from the court, which can include wage garnishment or other measures to ensure payment.
Is maintenance taxable?
Yes, maintenance is generally taxable income for the recipient and tax-deductible for the paying spouse. Although the specific tax implications can vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the jurisdiction. It is recommended that both spouses consult with a tax professional to understand the tax implications of maintenance payments.
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