Maintenance Petitions

The wife has a right to maintenance – no one disputes this fact. But this right is not sacrosanct. The concept that only the wife can get maintenance is not true. If a husband establishes that he is unable to support himself while his wife is earning well, then the Court can direct the wife to pay maintenance to the husband.
Secondly, just because one spouse has an abnormally high income does not mean that the
other spouse has a right to share in it. The primary condition for a grant of maintenance is
that the spouse should be unable to support himself or herself, only then the entitlement to
maintenance payment arises.

How to demonstrate financial inability to support oneself to claim maintenance?
There are several ways and means for the spouse to demonstrate his or her adverse financial
condition to make out the claim for maintenance. Being unemployed or having low income is one such ground. If the wife has to raise a child then also she can bolster her claim for maintenance. Women with children are likely to get higher maintenance amounts vis-a-vis those who were yet to have any.

What are the consequences if the husband fails to pay maintenance?
If a husband fails to pay the maintenance amount as directed by the Court, then he can be liable to face imprisonment till the time he pays up. Further, his personal property can also face attachment and be held as security to ensure the payment of maintenance to the wife.

Active and Passive Income – Both Relevant in Calculating Maintenance:
It is important to note that both the active and passive income of a spouse can be considered for calculating the maintenance. active income would comprise salary from a job, fees from the profession, and profits from the business. On the other hand, passive income would include rent from properties, dividends from shares, income from investments, etc.

Burden of Proof Lies on Whom?
In cases regarding payment of maintenance, a situation arises when parties have to produce proof of income in Court. It is a common practice for the defaulting spouse ( that one does not want to pay maintenance) to suppress his sources of income from the scrutiny of the court. Litigating spouses go to great lengths to suppress salary statements and income tax returns. Thus, what to do if the defaulting spouse does not place any proof of income on record? Should he just go scot-free?

The answer is no. The spouse who tries to hide and suppress his sources of income cannot enjoy leniency pray for the judge. In cases where wives claim maintenance from husbands, Courts presume that the husband has sufficient means to maintain the wife and the burden of proof lies on him to prove otherwise. In short, if the husband fails to prove to the court that he lacks the financial capacity and income, the Court will direct him to pay the maintenance demanded by the wife.