Relationships & Money : When can a woman claim maintenance from a man?

Maintenance for all members is provided under Section 3(b) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, which defines it as ‘provisions for food, clothing, residence, education and medical attendance and treattment’ and ‘in the case of an unmarried daughter, also the reasonable expenses of and incident to her marriage.’ Let us consider here the maintenance rights of a woman, whether she is separated or divorced.

Relationships & Money : When can a woman claim maintenance from a man?
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Maitenance is a term mostly associated with the financial support that a woman can claim from her husband after divorce. However, the word has a much wider connotation since maintenance can be claimed, not just by a married or divorced woman, but also by the children and parents of a married man. Maintenance for all members is provided under Section 3(b) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, which defines it as ‘provisions for food, clothing, residence, education and medical attendance and treattment’ and ‘in the case of an unmarried daughter, also the reasonable expenses of and incident to her marriage.’ Let us consider here the maintenance rights of a woman, whether she is separated or divorced.
 

1 Different personal laws
Due to the presence of different religions in India, marriage, divorce and maintenance are governed by their own personal laws.

Hindus: The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955(2), and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, give women the right to claim maintenance after divorce.
 

Muslims: Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, the wife has to be paid maintenance for life by applying in a civil or a high court.
 

Secular: Under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, members of all communities can claim maintenance including wives, children and parents if they are unable to support themselves.
 

2. Interim and Permanent maintenance
Under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, there are two types of maintenance—interim or temporary, and permanent—that can be ordered by a court. The former, under Section 24, is the maintenance granted to a spouse during the pendency of court proceedings, while the latter includes permanent maintenance and alimony under Section 25. The maintenance does not include stridhan, which is the wife’s right. Also, the quantum of maintenance is decided by the courts on the basis of the husband’s financial income, assets, liabilities, wife’s employment and earning status, among others.
 

3. If the woman is earning
According to a Supreme Court ruling, even if an estranged wife is earning, she can make a claim for maintenance if her income is not sufficient to sustain her. So, the belief that a working woman cannot claim maintenance does not hold true. Various Acts, such as the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, also ensure that the woman can demand maintenance even if she is separated and not divorced. Besides, as per a high court ruling, a husband cannot get away with not paying maintenance to his wife by saying that he is jobless or is not earning.
 

4. Can men claim maintenance?
Yes, if men cannot support themselves financially, they can claim maintenance from their wives who are financially well-off and earning more than them. This can be done under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which mentions both husbands and wives as liable to making such a claim.

Source : Economic Times