Alimony in India

Though alimony is a very important matter to deal with during the litigation of a divorce case, the very perception of right to claim the financial support for post divorce maintenance was not quite a familiar concept among the Indian divorce seekers, especially women even few years back. But as the rate of divorce is increasing in India at a rapid speed, people are becoming aware of the various details related to divorce laws. The era of feminist campaigns, and spread of education among women have contributed to the growing applicability of alimony in divorce cases.

The alimony or the spousal support is an obligation by laws in almost all the countries of the world. It is expected that both the spouses irrespective of the sex must bear the maintenance support during and after marriage.

The concept of alimony came in vogue due to the indissolubility nature of marriage. According to marriage conventions marriage is a sacred union. Once the knot is tied, the duties and obligations of marriage are to be carried out for the rest of the life even if there is mental disparity or physical separation between the husband and the wife. The husband is bound to take up the responsibilities for the maintenance of his wife in spite of sharing an estranged relationship. As time changed, the laws and education empowered woman, divorce came as a spontaneous solution for an unsuccessful marriage.

The present society treats men and women equal, as a result the burden of alimony can now fall upon either side of the party depending upon the financial circumstances of the spouses. Though in the present age of equality both men and women are now equal in the eyes of law, in practice men are more liable to provide interim support to their ex spouse during the litigation procedure.

After divorce either of the spouse has the right to claim alimony. Though not an absolute right, but can be granted by the court depending upon the circumstances and financial conditions of both the spouses.

The following are the conditions depending on which alimony is awarded by the court.

  • Alimony is generally not granted to the seeking spouse if he or she is already receiving support during the time of divorce. Although the rewarding of alimony can be revised in such events based on the arguments for claiming the support.
  • In case of a contested divorce, often spouses fail to come to any understanding regarding alimony. In such situations, the court takes up the task of making a decision on the amount of alimony to be paid.
  • Only under certain compelling situations the court steps out to change the already framed alimony. Some times the court might even hand over the burden of paying for the maintenance to a public body.

The following are the factors that influence the duration and amount to be paid as alimony.

  • The amount and duration of alimony generally depends upon how long the marriage existed. Marriages that lasted more than 10 years are entitled to be granted a life long alimony.
  • Age of the spouse is also taken into consideration while awarding alimony. Normally a young recipient of alimony gets it for a short period of time if the court thinks that he or she will soon be able to become financially sound trough prospective career excellence.
  • Alimony is also in vogue in order to equalize the economic condition of both the spouses. The higher earning spouse is entitled to pay a heavy amount as alimony.
  • The spouse who is projected to be enjoying a prosperous career is liable to pay high alimony amount.
  • If one of the spouses is suffering from poor health, the other is subjected to payment of high alimony to ensure proper medication and well being of the other spouse.

The terms and conditions of payment of alimony in India vary from one personal law to another. None of the Indian personal laws are spared from criticism due to existence of flaws in framing definite rules for granting alimony. The Shah Bano case is one such instance that exposes how the sustenance of a divorced woman is affected due to inclusion of inappropriate laws regarding post divorce maintenance and financial support.