My wife is working. Will I still have to pay her maintenance?

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Maintenance means an act of supporting for livelihood including building, electricity, machinery, etc. Maintenance not only includes electricity but also consists of food and shelter required for a living. Maintenance is an amount payable by the husband to his wife during the continuation of marriage or after the dissolution of it. Section-125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 states that maintenance is an amount payable by the husband to his wife who is unable to maintain herself during the existence of the marriage or after divorce. It includes food, clothing, residence, education and medical attendance and treatment, etc. Only a legally wedded wife is entitled to maintenance. 

TYPES OF MAINTENANCE

  • Temporary Maintenance:

Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 states that either of the spouses can be granted relief if the court is satisfied that the applicant has no sufficient source of income for his or her support. Temporary maintenance is granted by the court during the pendency of proceeding for divorce or separation to meet the immediate needs of the petitioner. This type of maintenance is only granted when the marriage is a legal marriage and during the pending litigation.

  • Permanent Maintenance:

Section-25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 states that the applicant is entitled to receive the maintenance during her lifetime or till the time he/she remarries after the disposal of the proceeding for divorce or separation.

Also Read: Can I ask for maintenance from my wife after Divorce?

Essential conditions for granting maintenance to wife

  • Sufficient means to maintain: The person who has to maintain must have sufficient means to maintain the person claiming maintenance. 
  • The expression ‘means’ used: It states that not only the property or physical means but also the earning capacity.
  • Neglect or refusal to maintain: Refusal or neglect means the person entitled to claim maintenance deny maintaining her.

Wife claiming maintenance must be unable to maintain herself: It states that the person claiming maintenance must be unable to maintain herself. This is the most important condition of maintenance.

Grounds on which the wife can be refused maintenance

  • The wife must not be living in adultery: If the wife has committed adultery and is living with another man, she will not be entitled to receive any maintenance.
  • The wife must not refuse without sufficient reasons to live with her husband: The wife must not refuse to stay with her husband without any appropriate reasons. She should give the court a proper adequate reason for not staying with him.
  • The wife must not be living separately by mutual consent: A wife is not entitled to receive any maintenance if they both are living separately by mutual consent. 

Supreme Court rules state that even if a wife is earning, she can also claim for maintenance if her income is not sufficient to maintain her. So the idea of saying that a working woman cannot claim maintenance is false and not true. Code of Criminal procedure also states that a wife living separately and not divorce can also claim for maintenance. 

As per high court rules a husband cannot give an excuse for not paying maintenance by stating that he is jobless and cannot afford to maintain her. 

By the above rules, it is clear that a wife can claim maintenance from his husband even if she is earning and he cannot deny paying her maintenance. 

In Shailja&Anr. v. Khobannathe Supreme Court made a remarkable observation by stating that merely because the wife is capable of earning it is not a reason to reduce the maintenance awarded to her and said that whether a wife is capable of earning and is actually earning are two different factors.

 A similar observation has been recently made by the High Court of Kerala in the case of Alphonsa Joseph v. Anand Josephwhere the Court declared that maintenance to wife cannot be rejected on the ground that she is earning.

Further, it is stated that the maintenance can be granted to a wife and it cannot be rejected and denied on the ground that she is earning but the amount of maintenance depends on how good she earns. The maintenance can be denied if she earns excellent than her own disputing husband. 

In Rosy Jacob v. Jacob A. Chakramakkal, Supreme Court of India 

A wife having a school of her own and possessing wetlands is in a better financial position than a husband who is not doing well in his profession and has no land. It was held that it is unnecessary to pay any maintenance to the wife

Also Read: My wife is also earning. Can I avoid paying maintenance to my kids?

Conclusion

Maintenance is the right of every legally wedded wife. However, it varies from the facts of the case. Every divorced wife or living separately can claim maintenance from her husband. There are two factors of maintenance: wife capable of earning and wife actual earning. The husband cannot deny paying maintenance on the ground she is earning unless she earns a more excellent amount than her husband. The amount of maintenance depends on the actual facts of the case.

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