In a marriage, there are two people with different sets of expectations and needs. In most cases, this results in a division of responsibilities and tasks to suit the needs of both partners. With changing times, we now see more women entering the work force and breaking new barriers for gender equality.
However, it is surprising to know that even after so many years of independence, Indian society still has some regressive beliefs regarding marriage and roles of spouses.
One such example is the belief that men should be the primary breadwinners and women should take up the role as homemakers.
Such unfair practices have left many housewives struggling to make ends meet once their marriages end in divorce or if the husband passes away.
This article explores alimony laws for housewives in India and what you need to know if you find yourself in this situation.
What is alimony for Housewives?
Alimony, also known as maintenance, is a legal obligation of one spouse to financially support the other spouse after divorce.
The spouse who is financially dependent due to lack of employment/income or after retirement can claim alimony from the other spouse. Alimony is also awarded to a spouse who has taken care of the children or has been disabled and unable to earn or support his/herself through reasonable and gainful employment.
Alimony is meant for interim support till the person gets back on their feet financially. However, in some cases, alimony may be awarded for a long period of time. Alimony is usually awarded to a spouse who has not been employed and has taken care of the house and children, or who has been disabled and is unable to earn.
What you need to know about alimony for housewives in India?
Alimony for housewives in India is a very rare occurrence. There have been very few reported cases of housewives being awarded alimony by courts after divorce.
This is because Indian law, while granting alimony, has historically looked towards the earning capacity of the spouse and not the need of the spouse when deciding alimony. This is, however, changing with awareness about gender equality in the work force rising and the Supreme Court of India taking a stand to protect the rights of the housewives.
One of the most significant changes in alimony laws for housewives in India is how courts are calculating the amount of alimony. Earlier, courts would look towards the husband’s earning capacity and award a percentage of his income as alimony to the wife. This can be anywhere between 5-15 years depending on the income of the husband and the needs of the housewife.
However, as mentioned above, this was not very fair as it did not consider the needs of the wife. Now, courts are looking towards the needs of the wife and not just the earning capacity of the husband when calculating the amount of alimony.
This has opened the doors for many housewives to be awarded alimony after divorce.