After divorce, maintenance should be given to the wife till she remarries. The idea behind this is to allow her to live with the lifestyle and luxuries she had during her marriage, and this should be paid for until she marries again. SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE AFTER DIVORCE
There is no minimum or maximum amount prescribed for maintenance, it is decided by the court according to the earning capacity of the husband.
If the husband is affluent, maintenance should be high during the marriage to match the wife’s affluent lifestyle.
If not, it should be a reasonable amount big enough to cover all his reasonable expenses.
When is the wife entitled to maintenance?
Section 18(2) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act provides a list specifying when the wife will be entitled to maintenance. According to the section, a wife can live separately from her husband and still have the right to claim maintenance in the following situations:
The husband has deserted his wife without any reasonable cause and without her consent or willfully disregarding her wishes.
The wife has been subjected to cruelty during their marriage and considers her life to be in danger to remain with her husband.
If the husband is suffering from any incurable and contagious disease.
The husband has a second wife or mistress in the same house or lives with another wife or mistress somewhere else.
The husband has converted to another religion or any other reasonable ground which may justify why the wife should live separately.
Maintenance can be paid every month or in one lump sum. Even if the wife has some source of income and some assets she needs some financial support for essential expenses like medical expenses. It is the duty of the husband to pay maintenance for such expenses if necessary. SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE AFTER DIVORCE
The same was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Smt. Anita Thackeray vs. Shri Satbir Singh Tukral.
In the above case, the wife had some source of income and also had an apartment in a good location but she was not earning enough money to meet her medical expenses.
The court observed that:
The wife will use one of the husband’s debit cards,
With a promise that she would withdraw only a reasonable amount that might be required for her medical expenses.
When should one not pay maintenance to his wife?
After divorce, the wife must be supported to support her financially. But, there are some exceptions to this rule.
Section 18(3) of the Act states that the wife shall not be entitled to maintenance:
If a Hindu wife has committed adultery or has any other illicit sexual relationship with another person, she will not be entitled to maintenance.
Moreover, if she is no longer a Hindu and converts to any other religion which does not fall within the ambit of Hinduism.
Also, in the case of Abbayola M. Subba Reddy vs. Padmamma:
The accused had two living wives.
The second wife was claiming maintenance,
Bigamy is illegal under Hindu laws,
The validity of the defendant’s marriage with his second wife was in question.
The High Court of Andhra Pradesh observed that:
If a man has two wives, the marriage with the second wife will be void ab initio because Hindu law forbids bigamy and the parties never actually become husband and wife. SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE AFTER DIVORCE
Therefore, the second wife will not be entitled to any maintenance as the marriage is void ab initio.