Indian women have broken glass ceilings. Reforms have revolutionized the way women live in today’s Indian society. Divorce proceedings have also taken a shift and progressed keeping the best interest of the women into consideration. Maintenance after Divorce is provided to the claimant based on the assumption that he/she doesn’t have the sufficient means to support herself .It is used as a means to cover the expenses for basic needs. The amount of the Maintenance is decided by the court after looking into the possession of the property of both the husband and the wife, and the ability of the husband to earn. The decision is taken after a thorough analysis of the conduct of the parties and other circumstances. Besides these their standard of living is also taken into consideration.

In India there are a wide array of laws regarding the relief of maintenance to a divorced wife. 

The provisions for the same are provided in Hindu Law, Muslim Law, Christian Law, Parsi Law, Special Marriage Act, 1954, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

The Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) also provides for maintenance and  women of all religions can file for maintenance under this.

There is no one direct yes or no answer to, “Can A Working Wife Get Alimony In India?”

There are intricacies of the legal framework and the corresponding facts of the case that are taken into consideration when deciding this answer. 

Difference between Alimony and Maintenance

Alimony and maintenance are often considered to be the same. Though both are for the financial security of the woman, they both mean different things. Alimony is a term that means a lump sum amount paid as a final settlement during a divorce proceeding. However, maintenance is a monthly amount paid for the daily sustenance.

Types of Maintenance

Interim maintenance: An interim maintenance or alimony pendente lite is a financial amount given during court proceedings if the  wife or husband isn’t capable of supporting his or her daily and general expenses. 

Permanent maintenance: This is monthly/ periodical maintenance given to the wife after the final verdict by the court.

Maintenance Laws For Working Women In India

The financial implications after divorce may alter the course of the future for the women. To safeguard the rights of women, there are concrete laws to ensure that women can lead their lives with dignity even after divorce.

  1. Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: The section Section 24 of the HMA fosters financial safety of the women during and after the divorce proceedings.
  2. Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: The Section 125 is a boon for women who are financially independent but don’t earn enough. Section 125 of CRPC is a secular law for maintenance and helps giving monetary assistance to avoid situations like Vagrancy and Poverty.
  3. Muslim Women Act, 1986: This act was formed for the Muslim women to provide them with maintenance rights. Under this act a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to get the due maintenance from her former spouse even if she has remarried. 
  4. Special Marriage Act, 1954: The special marriage act’s Section 37 is applicable for interfaith marriages and provides maintenance right to the woman in such marriages.
  5. Section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act 1955: This law allows a court to order one spouse to provide financial support to the other spouse during or after divorce proceedings in the form of one-time payment or regular payments for a specified period, not exceeding the lifetime of the recipient. T
  6. Section 18 of Hindu Adoption And Maintenance Act 1956: This law requires the husband and her father-in-law after the death of her husband to provide maintenance to the wife. 
  7. Section 39 and 40 Maintenance under Parsi Law:These deal with permanent alimony and both husband and wife are entitled to claim maintenance or permanent alimony, taking into account various factors such as income of the applicant and the respondent, conduct of the parties.
  8. Section 36, The Divorce Act, 1869: Maintenance under Christian Law: Section 36 addresses alimony pending litigation. Only the wife is entitled to claim relief under this section.

When an application submitted in the court of law seeking maintenance from the spouse, both the parties are required to submit all the details in the prescribed form as an affidavit. This information provides the court/ judge to decide the need of the person seeking financial support and financial status of the other who has to provide. This was decided in the landmark judgment on Rajnesh v Neha AIR 2021 SC 569.

Let’s take a look at when the answer is a Yes or a No based on the multiple laws and other criterias:

Yes, A Working woman can claim Alimony, Subject to Conditions

According to Section 25 (Permanent alimony and maintenance) of the Hindu Marriage Act an alimony is provided to the working women during and after divorce proceedings. The Muslim Personal Law, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, etc. also confirm this law.

This is subject to the condition that:

  • Income disparity: The working woman’s income is insufficient to meet her needs and If she lacks adequate means to sustain herself.
  • Depending on the grounds for divorce: If the wife is a victim in the marriage and is not at fault. If she has suffered financially because of the breakdown of the marriage.
  • Child Custody: Even if the wife is working, but has the custody of her children and her income is insufficient to support the educational and other needs of the children.
  • Age and Lifestyle: If the woman is working but not physically fit to continue or may have to a lifestyle needs that can’t be met with her current income.

No, A Working Women can’t claim Alimony if:

  • The woman is highly qualified and is earning and trying to gain money from the divorce.
  • The high court has ruled that a Muslim woman cannot claim maintenance if she effected her divorce under ‘Khula’.Khula’ is a divorce with the consent and at the instance of the wife.
  • Adulterous wife cannot claim maintenance under section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act.

Every case is different and each needs the careful watch of law and an in-depth understanding of the financial, educational, lifestyle conditions of the spouses involved. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to deciding maintenance. It is not only women but also men can claim maintenance/ financial support depending upon the circumstances. In order to get the best decision, the expert guidance  of a capable Divorce lawyer is necessary. This ensures that you get what you deserve after a tumultuous divorce proceeding.

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