Alimony | 06
Alimony – quite a complicated aspect in the event of a divorce in India. What is alimony? How is it claimed and granted? How is it awarded? How is it different from maintenance? Can men also claim alimony? What about live-in partners? All this and more, in this episode, with Pallavi Pratap – Lawyer, Supreme Court of India.
Hi! My name is Pallavi Pratap and welcome to Law Simplified, from MotorMouth Podcasts. We aim to bring in awareness for basic legal rights which are available to the citizens of our country. Through this podcast, I intend that you learn to appreciate the law and to find possible solutions to your legal problems. In this episode, I will discuss about alimony in India.
Up until very recently wives were not aware of the obligation casted by law, upon the spouse to pay alimony. Although the present society deals men and women as equal and so the burden of alimony can now fall upon wither side of the party depending upon financial circumstances of the spouses. After divorce either of the spouse has the right to claim alimony.
Let me first clarify the difference between alimony and maintenance. While the divorce is underway in the court, the money given from one party to another is known as maintenance. Once the two are legally separated, the money paid finally is known as alimony.
In mutual consent divorce, the alimony amount is mutually arrived at whereas in contested divorce, often the Court takes upon itself to decide upon the amount of alimony to be paid.
I am often asked about the factors that may influence determination of alimony. There are many factors such as how long did the marriage last, age of the spouse, career excellence, economic condition of both the spouses. Health of a spouse can also be a determining factor. The terms and conditions of alimony in India vary from one personal law to another.
While under Hindu laws, it is considered the spiritual duty of the husband to maintain his wife and give her all the comforts.
The entitlement to alimony is based on the following:-
• If the husband abandons her, without any justified reason, without her consent.
• If the husband treats her with cruelty.
• If the husband has another wife.
• If the husband suffers from a virulent form of leprosy.
• If the husband has concubine in the same house.
• If the husband converted to another religion.
However, if the couple is married under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, only the wife has the entitlement to claim permanent alimony. An alimony can be awarded permanently or it can also be periodical.
Now let us examine what happens if alimony is not paid on time?
Once the court passes the order, the supporting spouse has to pay alimony within the timeline decided. If payments are not made in time, contempt proceedings can be intitiated and other consequences like imposing of penalities can be ordered by Court.
The situation with respect to alimony changes if the wife remarries though he would still need to pay alimony in support of any children resulting from their union.
He can also contest alimony on the grounds that the wife is employed, though he cannot deny payment if it’s been ordered. The court will consider the amount she’s making. For instance, if she’s making money enough only to survive, but led a better lifestyle while married, it is possible that the court asks the husband to pay to supplement her earnings in order to maintain that standard of living.
In cases where the wife is earning more than her husband is, it may be difficult for her to get alimony since the claim to alimony is made only when the wife’s earning capacity is less or none.
There are different types of alimony in our country like Separation alimony, permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, reimbursement alimony and lumpsum alimony. A separation alimony is the type where in case the divorce has not taken place, then it is given only for the period of pure separation. In case where the couple reconciles, then the alimony payments cease. This type of alimony is more in nature of maintenance.
Permanent alimony as the name suggests are permanent payment which is paid as one time settlement. It is similar to lump-sum alimony which is also a one time settlement. Reimbursement alimony could be a situation where one spouse puts the other through college or professional degree, as a result of which the other spouse is earning more, in that case, a reimbursement alimony can also be ordered. This is a gender neutral alimony. A rehabilitative alimony is in nature of where an amount is paid till such time that the other spouse is capable of being self sufficient.
An interesting concept called Palimony is provided for partners in live-in relationship. It can however, only be extended to genuine relationship. The court also laid down certain factors to determine whether the relationship is of the nature of marriage or not and thus, applicable for palimony or not. These factors are:
• The couple must be eligible to marry;
• They must come out in society as a couple akin to a married couple;
• They must have moved in together with free consent;
• They must have spent a significant period of time together;
• They must have stayed together in a “shared household” as defined under Section 2(A) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Act.
Thanks for listening to this episode of law simplified. You can follow us Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – our handle is @MotorMouthPods
Check out more episodes of this show and other MotorMouth Originals on our website – motormouthpods.com . This episode was written and hosted by me, Pallavi Pratap
Sound design and mixing by Prateek Sharma
Our Creative Director is Gargie Sharma
Executive produced and created by Prateek Sharma, for MotorMouth Podcasts