The amount of alimony awarded to a woman must be befitting the status of parties and capacity of the spouse to pay maintenance, the Supreme Court has said. The apex court said that amount of maintenance was always dependent on the factual situation of a case and courts would be justified in moulding the claim on various factors. The court’s observation came while reducing the maintenance amount, to be paid by a man to his divorced wife, from Rs 23,000 to Rs 20,000 per month considering that he had got married to another woman, after his first marriage was dissolved, and has a child from her.
“The amount of permanent alimony awarded to the wife must be befitting the status of the parties and the capacity of the spouse to pay maintenance. Maintenance is always dependant on the factual situation of the case and the court would be justified in moulding the claim for maintenance passed on various factors,” a bench comprising justices R Banumathi and M M Shantanagoudar said.
The remarks were made in addition to the bench referring to a verdict passed by the apex court in 1970 in which it was said that 25 per cent of the husband’s net salary would be just and proper to be awarded as maintenance to the wife.
The bench was dealing with a petition filed by the man who had challenged an order of the Calcutta High Court which had reviewed its earlier order and had enhanced the amount of maintenance to be paid by him from Rs 16,000 per month to Rs 23,000 per month. The court observed that high court was justified in enhancing the maintenance amount as net salary of the man had increased to Rs 95,000 per month from around Rs 63,500.
“However, since the appellant (man) has also got married second time and has a child from the second marriage, in the interest of justice, we think it proper to reduce the amount of maintenance of Rs 23,000 to Rs 20,000 per month as maintenance to the respondent-wife and son,” the court said. They had got married in August 1995 and in 2012, their marriage was dissolved by an order of a trial court.