Laws relating to Maintenance of women differ from religion to religion. The amount of maintenance decided by the court depends majorly on the monthly income of the husband, his financial status, the income or the lack of income of the wife, and other important facts. The amount of maintenance is either decided by a mutual settlement between the husband and wife, or in accordance with the order of the court. It is the women’s right to get maintenance during and after a divorce in India. As per the maintenance laws in India it is the duty of the husband to pay his wife a lump-sum amount or monthly payment, known as maintenance. The maintenance is payable during the divorce proceedings are in the courts or after a divorce is finalized.
Interim Maintenance (Pendente Lite)
The maintenance that a husband pays his wife during the proceedings of a divorce is known as the Interim Maintenance.
The maintenance that a husband pays his wife after the divorce is finalized is known as the Permanent Maintenance.
MAINTENANCE RIGHTS UNDER DIFFERENT RELIGIONS IN INDIA
- Hindu law: Under the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, divorced women have the right to claim maintenance. The maintenance amount is to be decided by the Courts based on various factors including financial capability and the liabilities of the husband, financial ability of the wife, reasons behind the separation/divorce and other factors etc. The legal expenses relating to the divorce proceedings for the maintenance will be borne by either of the spouses depending on their ability to bear the expenses. The husband is required to make and pay the maintenance amount till the divorced is unable to maintain her or till she doesn’t remarry.
- Muslim law: The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 provides for the Maintenance of divorced women. Under this act, a divorced woman is entitled to the following:-
- Valid and fair provision and maintenance by her ex-husband within the ‘iddat period’.
- If she has children who were born before or after the divorce, then she can claim reasonable and fair maintenance from her ex-husband for a minimum period of 2 years from the birth of such children.
- An amount equivalent to ‘Meher’ or ‘dower’ as agreed to be paid at the time of her marriage or anytime afterwards by the ex-husband.
- All the properties which were given to her by her parents/relatives/friends or by her ex-husband/his relatives/his friends.
In case, the wife is unable to maintain her living expenses after ‘iddat period’ then as per the law, the court will order her relatives who would have inherited her property after her death to make provision for daily sustenance and expenses.
- Christian law: Indian Divorce Act, 1869 provides for the provisions for Maintenance for the divorced woman, who follows Christianity. As per this Act, the maximum amount that will be paid to a wife cannot be more than be one-fifth of the husband’s income. In order to decide the amount of maintenance, the court will have to take into consideration various factors such as the husband’s financial ability, wife’s own assets and financial capacity and other factors etc. The maintenance amount will only be paid till the time the wife stays single and unmarried.
- Parsi law: Under Parsi Law, maintenance provisions are similar to that under the Christian law but here the husband also has the right to claim maintenance. The court cannot offer maintenance beyond the life of the person paying the maintenance. The amount to be paid as maintenance cannot be more than one-fifth of the spouse’s income.
- Under the special marriage act: Special Marriage Act, 1954 allows divorced wife to claim maintenance and support by having a right to get maintenance depending on the husband’s ability to pay, his property, wife’s own wealth, property and assets, and any other just circumstances.
MAINTENANCE UNDER GENERAL LAWS:
Married women in India have the right to claim maintenance (both interim as well as permanent) under general laws as well, in spite of their right under their respective personal laws.
The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973:
Section 125 of CrPC makes necessary for a husband to maintain his wife who is unable to maintain herself without the assistance of the husband. A wife has the right to claim both interim maintenance as well as permanent maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC. Further, as per the explanation (b) to Section 125(1), the term “wife” incorporates a divorced woman also.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005:
An aggrieved wife has the right to ask maintenance from the accused husband under Section 20 of the PWDA in addition to an order of maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC or any other personnel law in force. The only mandate under this law is that the amount of maintenance paid must be adequate, fair, reasonable and consistent with the standard of living to which the aggrieved person was accustomed to in the matrimonial home.