How do courts decide that husband have sufficient mean to pay alimony?
What is the definition and scope of 'sufficient means' as described under Maintenance act by the Supreme Court? How does a court arrive that the husband have sufficient means to maintain his wife?
Also, what is the definition and scope for the wife to be unable to maintain herself? How does the court work it work out?
The Phrase ‘sufficient means’ has not been defined anywhere, however, the Courts have interpreted the phrase ‘sufficient means’ as that the person should be healthy enough to work and earn a livelihood. The Courts while deciding whether the husband has sufficient means considers the financial status of the Husband which shall include but not limited to his salary, net worth of movable and immovable properties, etc.
Coming to the definition of "wife unable to maintain herself": Where the personal income of the wife is insufficient she can claim maintenance. The test is whether the wife is in a position to maintain herself in the way she was used to in the place of her husband.
In Bhagwan Dutt v. Kamla Devi it was observed that the wife should be in a position to maintain a standard of living which is neither luxurious nor penurious but what is consistent with status of a family. The expression “unable to maintain herself” does not mean that the wife must be absolutely destitute before she can apply for maintenance.
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