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Can a husband claim alimony or maintenance from his wife?


Before we discuss whether a husband is entitled to receive any alimony or maintenance from his wife, let us have a look at the difference between these two terms. With a significant rise in the number of divorce cases, the use of these terms has become quite common.

Maintenance under Hindu Marriage Act

Alimony vs Maintenance

While it is a financial agreement between the parties to a divorce, the exact difference between the two is the mode of payment.

Alimony is a one-time payment and maintenance is paid either annually or monthly, as decided by the court.

Maintenance for the Husband

According to Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, a husband can also ask for maintenance from his wife. The spirit of the said section applies to the party which is unable to maintain itself, irrespective of the gender.

The aforesaid section “Maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings” reads: where it appears to the court that either the husband or the wife has no independent income to support himself or herself and for the expenses of proceedings, the court may order the respondent to pay to the petitioner the expenses of the proceeding and monthly sum during the proceeding. Such sum is decided by the court based on the income of the petitioner as well the respondent.

The term pendente lite means during the process of litigation.

In Kanchan vs Kamlendra, Bombay High Court laid down that the provisions of Section 24 entitle not just wife but the husband to claim maintenance as well. It, however, mentioned that the husband will have to prove before the court that he has some sort of disability to receive such amount from his wife. The court further added that mere closure of the business of husband cannot be a ground for maintenance, as it was against the spirit of the said section.

Also in Nivya vs Shivaprasad, Kerala High Court observed that maintenance u/s 24 can be paid only when he proves his inability to earn. The court was of the view that in the absence of such circumstances, maintenance given to the husbands will inspire “idleness” among them.

Madhya Pradesh High Court, in Yashpal Singh Thakur vs Anjana Rajput, stated that a husband who is otherwise capable of earning bread must not stop earning and start depending on his wife for the same. This means a person who has voluntarily incapacitated himself from working and earning is not entitled to claim maintenance from his/ her spouse.

Consideration for the Amount of Maintenance

Karnataka High Court, in Padmavathi vs C. Lakshminarayna, decided that the court must take into consideration the income of both the parties before deciding the sum of maintenance.

Husband granted Maintenance

Delhi High Court, in Rani Sethi vs Sunil Sethi, upheld the Trial Court’s judgement which ordered the wife to pay her husband Rs 20,000 a month and Rs 10,000 as litigation expenses along with a Maruti Suzuki Zen for his use.

Full Judgement Here

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