Alimony Must Be Decided Based on FactsIn a recent order, a Supreme Court bench observed that twenty five percent of husbands net salary might be considered a benchmark for awarding alimony to wife in divorce cases. It is surprising that the court observed thus, as alimony is a subject that needs careful examination of facts from the judge hearing the case. Normally, the claimant will make exaggerated claims to extract more than what is reasonable while the person responsible to pay will inflate his expenses and liabilities to avoid a just settlement. But it is a settled principle of law that in such cases, the primary objective of law is to award an alimony that will allow the wife to lead a dignified life, in consonance with what she was used to when living with her husband.
By Sunil Garodia
The law seeks to ensure that just the fact that she will be a divorcee must not mean that she would no longer live with dignity. Hence, a number of factors as mandated by law must be taken into account before settling the alimony amount. It could be 25% or it could be higher or even lesser in different circumstances. Although the court has not observed that the 25% benchmark is the upper or lower limit, given the way the lower judiciary interprets such directives, it might well become a fashion to restrict alimony to an upper limit of 25%. That would be a tragedy and would deprive women from getting a just settlement as warranted by their then circumstance in life.
Apart from the duration of the marriage, the incomes of both spouses, the number of children to be supported by the wife and her age are the main facts that need to be examined before deciding on the alimony amount. A judge is expected to apply his minds on the basis of the facts in the case and settle the alimony at an amount that allows the woman to live the life she was accustomed to in her marital home. In doing so, sometimes the figure might exceed 25% of the husbands net salary. Hence, prescribing a benchmark that can be construed as an upper limit by the trial or family courts is not in the interests of the claimant. image credit: newslawn