Meaning of Alimony/ Child Support
Alimony is often referred as spousal support, maintenance, aliment and spouse maintenance, it is the legal obligation of an individual to provide financial assistance to their spouse before/after their divorce or separation, it could be decided between them through agreement or by the court itself.
Purpose of Alimony/ Spousal Support
After the spouses are separated through divorce, then the court might award a specific amount as alimony/ spousal support to one of the spouses, who is economically weaker or has no means of financial support to take care of his/her basic needs. The said arrangement could either pre-decided by the spouses through an agreement or is decided by the court itself. This said alimony/spouse support amount is not inclusive of the divided marital property, child support. The purpose of Child support money is to ensure welfare and financial safety of the child only, where as the alimony/ spousal support is to ensure financial protection of the custodian.
Types of Alimony/ Spouse Support
Who Will Pay Whom?
The individual will avail the permanent alimony from his/ her spouse as per Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Although the wife is working and is earning decent income, if there is considerable difference between the income of the husband and wife and husband is earning way more than her, then wife will be granted the support so she could maintain the same living standard as her husband provided her. If wife is not earning, then alimony/ spouse support amount will be decided by considering the factors such as her age, educational qualifications and her ability to earn in future, etc. in the case where wife is earning more than husband and husband is either disabled or not fit for work, then husband will be granted the alimony/ spouse support.
How Does A Court In India Calculate Alimony/ Spouse Support Amount?
However, there is no such set mathematical formulae to calculate the certain amount of alimony/ spouse support, the alimony money could be availed as periodical payment i.e., monthly or it could be paid at once, in the form of lump-sum amount as a one-time payment. As per the supreme court of India the amount of alimony/ spouse support ranges from 1/5th to 1/3rd of the total net worth of husband. If the alimony is provided as monthly payment than it should not be less than 25% of the total income of that particular month.
Factors Considered At the Time of Fixing the Amount of Alimony/Spouse Support
- Standard of living and financial status of both the spouses
- Other assets of the couple
- If, there is any existing liability of the husband or not
- Expenses on children education, if any child is born out of this marriage
- Current health conditions of both spouses
- The duration of the marriage
These factors differ from case to case; hence alimony/ spouse support amount is decided accordingly. While in cases of divorce by mutual concern, the amount of alimony/spouse support is decided priorly through an agreement between the spouses.
If The Once Decided Amount Of Alimony/ Spouse Support Could Be Altered Or Not?
An Alimony/Spouse support order by the court tends to remain same through out the years, even if the spouses have big increment in their salaries or receives large bonuses at work. The former spouse is not entitled to receive such benefits after the divorce.
On the other hand, if there is some significant drop in income of the spouse to the point, where the individual could no longer provide the maintenance, the spouse could file the petition in the court regarding same, and pray for reducing the amount of alimony/ spouse support.
What Could Be Claim And What Not Could Be Claimed After The Separation By The Wife?
The items like jewellery including gold, silver, alloy, and precious stones, fixed assets such as property, and other assets such as cars, furniture, paintings, appliances, and artifacts that was presented to wife during, before or even after the marriage could be claimed by her, these abovementioned gifts could be gifted by her husband, in-laws, relatives, friends and acquaintances. The earnings of the wife before or after marriage are also her property.
Similarly, any asset, that was bought by the husband in the wife’s name, without passing it on as a gift, also does not belong to the wife. If the wife has spent any of her earnings on the household, those cannot be claimed. Also, the wife does not hold any right on the jewellery, valuables or gifts gifted to the husband by the wife’s parents before, after or during the marriage.
After the divorce litigation proceedings are finalised, either spouse could claim their right for seeking alimony/ spouse support. Although there is no absolute right, it is upon the court to decide whether the need of alimony even exist or not. During the divorce litigation alimony/ spouse support is very essential issue to deal 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 few years back. But now not only women even the men are claiming for the right to seek financial support in certain cases. This is because, the present society treats both men and women equally, and hence the onus of providing financial support could fall on either of partner.
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