Alimony and Maintenance under Indian Law

  • Alimony is a monetary compensation granted to the spouse who is unable to support himself/herself by the other spouse during or after the divorce proceeding.

    There are two types of alimony generally and same applies according to the Indian Laws as well:

    When it's given during the time of the court proceedings, it is a maintenance amount. The second is when it's given after the legal separation. After separation, alimony can be taken either as a one-time lump sum amount or a fixed payment, which could be monthly, quarterly and the like, depending on the requirement of the spouse. Alimony can be taken by either party depending on the case.

    The court decides the amount of alimony/maintenance which is to be paid by the respective spouse after examining various parameters.

    The income of the spouses, their standard of living and financial status are the factors considered. Spouse’s income, investments and net worth, as well as the financial needs of the individuals are taken into account.

    Though there isn't a fixed formula to quantify the amount, generally it is in the range of one fifth to one third of the gross earnings of the spouse who has to pay alimony.

    The number of years the couple has been married, the number of children and the kind of emotional investment made are also considered. The husband can request stopping of payment or reducing the amount, if the wife manages to get another source of income.

    While choosing the mode of payment, the lump sum is a preferred option. Lump sum gives certainty. A regular fixed pay out can stop after a while due to reasons like the supporting spouse losing his or her source of income or death. The lump sum amount is not taxable as you get it as capital receipt. However, if investments made from this amount earn returns, the return is taxable. The monthly payment route is taxable to the spouse who gets it.

    Once the court passes the order, the supporting spouse has to pay alimony which was decided. If payments are not made on time, there are consequences where the court can take further action against the spouse.

    How alimony is decided?

    Wife is earning: Court looks into husband's financial status. If his income is very high, wife will get some alimony.

    Wife is not earning: Wife will get alimony that allows her to maintain a standard of living that is similar to that of her husband.

    Wife remarries: Wife will not get anything. Husband will have to continue to pay for children, if any.

    Husband is disabled and unable to earn: Wife can be asked to pay alimony.

    The terms and conditions of payment of alimony in India vary from one personal law to another. None of the Indian personal laws are spared from criticism due to existence of laws in framing definite rules for granting alimony.


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    These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer

    These articles are provided freely as general guides. While we do our best to make sure these guides are helpful, we do not give any guarantee that they are accurate or appropriate to your situation, or take any responsibility for any loss their use might cause you. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking experienced legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.

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