When can women claim maintenance

Maintenance is said to be a monetary aid claimed by women from their husbands, when they get separated. Maintenance in the literal sense, could be claimed by children and parents of married men. Maintenance is given in order to assure a stable life and basic provision, in order to lead a respectful and independent life. Our laws provide for separate maintenance laws in the Hindu Adoption Maintenance Act of 1956. This law talks about ensuring basic aid that is called as maintenance. It involves food, shelter, education and medical facilities. Maintenance is a right for women who have separated from their partners, for whatever reasons, and they wish to lead a dignified life, with their children or parents. Indian laws are diverse in terms of personal laws and marriage rituals. Different religions have their respective marriage and maintenance laws. They govern the entire institution with their personal laws that have been existing for the longest time. Hence, one rule could not be applied to the other kind of marriage.

  • When we talk about the Hindu laws, several legislations are present, like the Hindu Marriage Act, that governs the Hindu Marriage and associated factors. Similarly, we have the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, that has its own set of rules and regulations. As per the Hindu rules and regulations, right to claim maintenance originates after the divorce.
  • Now, if we consider the Muslim laws in India, there is one regulation made for this, namely, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. As per the rules enlisted in this particular law, women are given the maintenance during their iddat period.
  • In the Christian laws maintenance is regulated by the Indian Divorce Act of 1869 which says that if a wife wants, she can claim maintenance for life by applying in any of the civil or high courts, after divorce.

Maintenance is a kind of monetary support that women are entitled to seek, after they get divorced. It is on their discretion, whether they want to seek such help or not. Maintenance is just not limited to wives, rather it can be claimed by children and parents. Maintenance has been divided into two kinds:

  • Interim
  • Permanent

Interim or permanent maintenance is only given during the pendency of court proceedings, in order to meet the financial requirements. And on the other hand, permanent one includes maintenance for a longer duration of time (permanent). It also includes alimony given by husband to his wife after divorce. There’s been one more provision given by the Supreme Court in India, that empowers divorced women to claim maintenance even if they are earning provided, the income they are earning is not sufficient to maintain the basic sustenance needs. Marriage establishes the status and obligation on a husband to maintain his wife. Hindu law, indeed, has given the right of maintenance to wife, after she seeks divorce. However, it’s only when wife doesn’t deviate from her obligation of chastity towards her husband. Laws have been made in order to assure rights and privileges but when it comes to determining the status, court takes into consideration, even the most peculiar factors while deciding the maintenance provisions. There are cases, where wife is living separately for her husband, but if the reasons are justified, the court shall take it into consideration. Hindu law gives absolute right of maintenance to women. But, when it comes to accessing the whole maintenance provisions, the court takes into consideration the position of husband also. Liability of husband is also taken into consideration while imposing some kind of decisions over him. Often there is case of Maintenance where expenses of matrimonial suit are borne by either of the spouses. It only happens when either of them has no independent income.

When we explicitly takes into consideration, the grounds of divorce, it can be said that maintenance is provided in any of the cases such as :

  • Husband deserts his wife or neglects her on his own will
  • When husband inflicts cruelty and domestic violence on his wife
  • When husband has been found suffering from some kind of venereal disease
  • When husband has married another woman or has a concubine
  • If the husband changes his religion

Wife is entitled to maintenance relief in such cases. However, there could be situation where wife has experienced any of these situations but she herself has been engaged in some adulterous relationships. Or when wife decides to convert her religion. In these two situations, she won’t be entitled to any matrimonial relief or maintenance for that matter. When someone neglects his wife even after having sufficient means, or when there is his legitimate or illegitimate minor son who is unable to maintain himself or his father or mother is unable to maintain themselves, the magistrate of first class, after attaining sufficient proof, may direct the person to take responsibility of his wife, children or parents.

Steps forward

The basic steps involved in the maintenance procedure starts with

  • Filing the petition or application ascertaining all the facts and circumstances, with the personal details and on what basis does she claim maintenance.
  • Parties shall appear before the court for reconciliation
  • In case of successful reconciliation, matter stands settled. In case of failure, the petitions are carried forward by the respective family courts, and matter is taken into consideration.
  • Opposite party is then asked to file reply to the petition. They are supposed to state facts and circumstances with related explanations.
  • Then the matter is issued for adjudication
  • Evidences are taken into consideration
  • Final Arguments take place and matter is decided by the court, after considering each and every fact.
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