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What Is Alimony? Law of Alimony In India

INTRODUCTION

Alimony is derived from a Latin word alimonia which means sustenance. Alimony or spousal support is the monthly support given by one party to the other after the divorce. It is not a compulsory payment and is generally provided when the spouse doesn’t have adequate means to sustain life. According to the law, the alimony may be granted to either of the spouses but is usually given to the wife by the husband. The general rule of this is that a spouse is dependent when he or she doesn’t or earn less money.

While paying alimony, there is no specific amount for support or maintenance, it depends upon the conditions. The objective of the alimony is to resolve any unfair economic effects caused by a divorce, such as when a domestic parent suddenly needs a source of income after a divorce, but has never held a job. This Alimony section covers the basics of spousal support, the different types of support, including temporary and lump-sum support, the determination of eligibility, and calculation of payment amounts, important records to save when paying or receiving money.

ALIMONY IN INDIA

A recent study shows that India has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world, estimated at about 13 per 1,000 marriages or 1.3 percent. But every day there are about thousands of cases filed in the court, due to this rise the grant of alimony and maintenance has come into focus. In India, alimony and maintenance are the topics of great debate. There are two types of alimony and maintenance, interim alimony which is given during the court proceedings and permanent alimony which is given after the judicial separation.

The alimony depends upon the matrimonial laws according to the specific religions or civil laws like the Special Marriage Act 1954 and 125 Cr. P. C. Common Social Welfare Law.  Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jain are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, governs divorce for Muslims and for Christians it is made possible by way of the Indian Divorce Act, 1869. Parsis seek divorce under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936.

Under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the spouse can ask for alimony but generally, it is the women who seek grants for alimony but the instances where the husband has physical disability which prevents him from earning, then the wife has a liability to pay compensation.

Supreme Court on the benchmark of alimony in the case Kalyan Dey Chowdhury v Rita Dey Chowdhury held that a benchmark of 25% of the net salary of the husband is just and proper amount for the former wife overruling the previous ruling in the case Dr Kulbhushan Kumar v Raj Kumari and Anr. The court essentially held that ‘the maintenance is always dependent on the factual situation of the case and the court would be justified in moulding the claim for maintenance passed on various factors’.

Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Code, 1973, also criminalizes the neglect or refusal of a person to maintain his wife, children or parents. It is at the court’s disposal about the punishment to the spouse refusing to pay the alimony. The Punjab and Haryana court imposed 1 Lakhs fine to the husband which in turn will be paid to the wife as compensation. The debate is also about the lump sum alimony or the periodic.  Lump-Sum alimony is not taxable whereas periodic alimony is taxable.

CONCEPT OF STREEDHAN

The concept of Streedhan differs from the concept of alimony or maintenance. Streedhan is the property of a woman that she gets either before, after or during her marriage. It distinguishes from ‘dowry’ because there is no coercion in Streedhan. A woman has an undisputed right over her Streedhan. She has an absolute argument even after her separation or divorce from her husband.

All kinds of jewellery, valuable property, gifts given to her, her own earning from the employment and business belongs to the woman in Streedhan. But what doesn’t belong in the Streedhan is any invaluable property that was given to the husband by the wife’s parents and family, any asset and a woman’s earnings which she willingly spent.

CONCLUSION

In present times where females are becoming empowered and raising voices against the injustices against them. Alimony is the right of the person to sustain life. It is a temporary compensation to the spouse till he or she has sufficient means for the necessity of life. At present, the quantum of alimony is decided at the court’s discretion but it would be useful for a special committee to investigate this issue in depth as applicable to each group (because matrimony and divorce are regulated by personal law in India) and to provide guidance detailing the specific factors that should be taken into account when determining matters relating to maintenance and alimony.

Alimony in India is a major issue and is generally a debate in the courts, but with the passage of time, it is becoming all the more reason to focus which gives equal rights to both the genders. The fight is now to make it more reformed and being specific laws relating to it.

This article has been authored by Jaishri Sharma, 2nd year BA.LLB(HONS) student at Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad.

Also Read – Can You File For Alimony Before Divorce?

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