Family Dispute

How much should be the Maintenance to the Spouse? Supreme Court Decided in its judgement.

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Case No: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 730 of 2020 (arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.9503/2018)

 

Referred Acts in the Judgement:

  • The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973
  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DVA), 2005
  • Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), 1955
  • Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954
  • Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956

 

Summary of the Case:

The Wife (Neha) filed an interim application u/s 125 CrPC claiming maintenance for herself and their son by her husband (Rajnesh). Family Court granted her a favourable Order of Rs.15,0000/- p.m. and Rs.5,000/-p.m. to their child to be paid by the Husband (Rajnesh). This Order was challenged by the Husband by way of a Criminal Writ Petition in Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) wherein the Court affirmed the Order of the Family Court and dismissed the Criminal Writ Petition. Husband lastly appealed to the Supreme Court. The Hon’ble Court awarded additional costs and relevant Order in maintenance of the Wife and their son by the Husband and also provided detailed guidelines on the third issue amongst the five (5) problems mentioned in the judgment that is issue of criteria for determining quantum of maintenance. 

 

Criteria for Determining Quantum of Maintenance:

Why a spouse (husband or wife) seek maintenance? The purpose of maintenance is to save either of the spouse from financial crisis and tough time away from their marital home. They too deserve a better life and should not face hardship just because their marriage got failed. Hence, the laws provided for maintenance are gender-neutral i.e. in the eyes of law both  husband or wife are equal and the maintenance amount(quantum)  should be decided neutrally.    Courts have not prescribed any set formula in determining the quantum (amount) of maintenance.

Hon’ble Supreme Court by way of this judgment determined the factors which should be identified and kept in consideration while determining the quantum of maintenance including a) status of the parties;

b) Reasonable needs of the wife and dependent children;

c) Whether the applicant is educated and professionally qualified;

d) Whether the applicant has any independent source of income;

e) Whether the income is sufficient to enable her to maintain the same standard of living as she was accustomed to in her matrimonial home;

f) Whether the applicant was employed prior to her marriage;

g) Whether she was working during the subsistence of the marriage;

h) Whether the wife was required to sacrifice her employment opportunities for nurturing the family, child rearing, and looking after adult members of the family; and

i) Reasonable costs of litigation for a non-working wife.

Apart from the factors stated above, Supreme Court also provided for additional factors in determining the quantum of maintenance including:

a) Age and employment of parties;

b)  Right to residence (shared household by the couple);

c) Where Wife is earning some income; maintenance of minor children; and

d) Serious disability  ill health of her, child/ren, family members and relatives, if any.

 

To read the complete judgement:                   https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2018/37875/37875_2018_39_1501_24602_Judgement_04-Nov-2020.pdf

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