Alimony and Maintenance

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Alimony and Maintenance

The financial ramifications of a divorce could deter the standard of living of the applicant and in most cases even their very survival. This establishes the legal grounds for enacting the provisions of alimony and maintenance, the purpose of which is to compensate a spouse in the event of a legal separation or divorce. This article throws light on the entitlements and accountabilities of a spouse under these circumstances.

The Purpose of the Concept

The term ‘alimony,’ which is derived from the Latin term ‘Alimonia,’ means sustenance.  In this context, it refers to an allowance or sum of money which a spouse is indebted to pay to a wife to cater to her sustenance.

The terms alimony and maintenance are synonymous with each other, and the usage of the names varies according to the different locales. It refers to the financial support offered to a spouse in the event of a divorce or judicial separation. The provision is only extended to the parties whose marriage were legal.

Types of Alimony and Maintenance

Alimony and maintenance are classified into:

  • Interim Alimony and Maintenance.
  • Permanent Alimony and Maintenance.

Interim Maintenance

Interim maintenance is a provision wherein a husband is obligated to meet the maintenance costs of the wife in the course of the court proceedings. In addition to it, the husband is also required to compensate the cost of court proceedings incurred by the wife.

Permanent Maintenance

This provision takes effect upon the dissolution of marriage or judicial separation, whereby the husband would be required to remit any amount fixed by the court. The time-frame of payment can either be made periodically or on a lump-sum basis.

In most cases, the court would require the respondent to make a periodical payment. Lump-sum payments are awarded in cases of mutual party-divorces or when the plaintiff explicitly makes a plea for it. These payments would cease upon the death of either of the spouses or on a date determined by the judge.


Any sum received for alimony and maintenance is taxable in the hands of the beneficiary. On the other hand, it is tax-deductible for the payer.

Jurisdiction of the Court

The intervention of the court is triggered when a wife or husband to a marriage files an application seeking permanent alimony or maintenance from the other. The court may, in turn, discreet the respondent to financially support the petitioner for his/her maintenance on a monthly or periodical basis with a sum of money that is decided by the court. The Court may choose to vary, modify or rescind the order given any change in circumstances of either party in the future course of time.

Factors of Consideration

The court determines a plea of permanent alimony and maintenance by taking stock of the assessing income and property of the parties. In this respect, the husband is obligated to provide a full-fledged disclosure of his income and the properties possessed by him if the wife makes an application for maintenance, failing which the wife is entitled to make queries on the alleged omission. On the same page, the wife is also required to make complete disclosures of her income and property details.

Besides the aforementioned factor, the court also considers the lifestyle, status, health, age, liabilities, support and education of children and other responsibilities of the parties before making a decree for this purpose. The Indian marriage and divorce laws entitle the wife to receive a sum of money that will enable her to maintain a standard of living which is on par with that of her marital years.

Cancellation or Non-Issue of Alimony

The Court may turn-down a plea for this purpose or cancel an existing order of permanent alimony and maintenance under the following circumstances:

  • If the wife earns an income that would enable her to maintain a standard of living which is on par with that of her marital years.
  • If the wife has not remained chaste (when the wife is the beneficiary).
  • If the husband indulges in an extramarital affair (when the husband is the beneficiary).

Also Read About:

Indian Divorce Act

Conjugal Rights

Custody of Children in India

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Post by Sreeram Viswanath

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