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Maintenance laws and rules differ from religion to religion. The amount of maintenance fixed by the court depends upon the monthly income of the husband, the income of the wife, his financial status, among other things. India being a democratic country provides its citizens with various laws which are essential in earning a livelihood. A woman is considered as a legal "Wife" of a man, only if their marriage hasn't proved to be null and void. From the right to the residence at the house of her husband to have an equal share in the property, a legally wedded wife enjoys many rights.

As per the maintenance laws & rights, it is the duty of the husband to pay his wife a lump-sum or monthly payment, known as maintenance, where the maintenance without divorce or after a divorce has to be paid. The amount of maintenance is either decided by a mutual settlement between the husband and wife, or in accordance with the order received from the court. It is the women's right after divorce in India.

Legal Rights of a Wife

Right to Streedhan: Streedhan is the property that a woman obtains at the time of her marriage, it is different from Dowry in a way that it is voluntarily gifts given to the wife before or after her marriage and there is no element of coercion. The courts clearly say that women will have absolute rights over their Streedhan even if it is placed in the custody of her husband or in-laws.

Right to maintenance by the husband: Under Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 a Hindu wife is entitled to claim maintenance from her husband in case if he is guilty of cruelty, desertion, polygamy or has a venereal disease, thereby enforcing her rights in divorce. Under Section 25 of this act, it provides for permanent Alimony and Maintenance of wife and child. This section allows any court which has jurisdiction under this Act to pass an order upon receiving an application from the aggrieved spouse directing the respondent to pay the applicant for her support and maintenance.

The right to live with dignity and self-respect: A wife has the right to live her life with dignity and to have the same lifestyle as that of her husband and in-laws. She also has the right to live free from any mental or physical torture.

Right to child maintenance: The husband and wife must provide for their minor child. If the wife is incapable of earning, then the husband must provide her with financial support.

Claiming maintenance under different laws

India being a secular country has a population that follows different religions. In order to understand the legal structure behind the governance of maintenance in religion, we need to look at the personal laws in force.

Maintenance under Hindu law:

According to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 a divorced woman has a right to claim maintenance under the Hindu Law.

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, if in any proceeding under this Act, the Court comes to the conclusion that either the wife or the husband has no separate source of income sufficient for their support, it may order for the payment of monthly maintenance to the petitioner through the respondent.

Maintenance under Muslim law:

Under the purview of Muslim law, a husband is supposed to maintain his wife and family, and the term maintenance signifies the amount he is liable to pay for the same.

The term used for maintenance under Muslim Law is called nafaqa and it involves food, sustenance, and lodging.

The term used for maintenance under Muslim Law is called nafaqa and it involves food, sustenance, and lodging.

The wife is usually entitled to obtain maintenance from her husband, despite the fact that she has the appropriate means to maintain herself.

The law that governs the maintenance of divorced women is the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.

A wife has a claim over a fair amount of maintenance by her ex-husband within the given iddat period

The husband is required to provide 'Meher' or 'Dower' as promised at the time of the wedding or anytime later

If during the divorce, the wife is pregnant, she can claim a fair amount of maintenance for at least 2 years from the date of birth of a child

If they had a child at the time of divorce, a wife can still claim maintenance for the child till the time she remarries or until the child is dependent

The marriage contract may also stipulate the payment of special allowances by the husband, and in presence of these, it becomes the obligation of the husband to pay these to the wife. Such allowances are called kharch-e-pandan, guzara, mewa khore, etc.

Maintenance under Christian law:

Under the purview of Christian Law and maintenance, the Indian Divorce Act plays an important role.

The amount of maintenance mentioned in the act dictates that it cannot be more than one-fifth of the husband's income. The precondition here is that the woman should not remarry and stay chaste.

The amount of permanent maintenance depends upon factors like husband's income, wife's own income, property, the behavior of both the wife and husband, etc.

Maintenance under the Parsi law:

Under Parsi Law, maintenance is usually similar to the Christian law but here the husband can also claim maintenance and the court cannot offer maintenance beyond the life of the person paying maintenance.

The usual condition of chastity follows and the amount cannot be more than one-fifth of the spouse<sup>s</sup> income.

Marriages under the Special Marriage Act, 1954

Special Marriage Act, 1954 also allows a divorced wife to claim maintenance and support by charging a quantum on husband's property depending on the husband's ability to pay, his property, wife's own wealth, property and assets, the conduct of both the parties and any other just circumstances. The district court of apt jurisdiction where the application for maintenance is submitted can rescind, modify or vary its order/decree if it is convinced that there is a change in circumstances of either party at any time after the order is passed or if the divorced woman doesn't remain chaste or single.

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