By Sharanya Gopinathan
The Supreme Court has decided on the limit of how much alimony a husband is supposed to pay to his wife.
The matter came up in a case where the judges reduced the amount a man was due to pay his wife from Rs. 23,000 to Rs. 20,000, taking into account the fact that he had remarried and had a child from his second marriage.
The Court said, “Twenty-five per cent of the husband’s net salary would be just and proper to be awarded as maintenance to the [former] wife.”
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and the SC says it will continue to keep in mind pertinent factors when deciding upon alimony payments, but sees 25 percent as a just amount. But doesn’t it make you wonder how exactly the SC settled on that, and what calculations and factors it took into account when settling on the seemingly random figure?
An American judge named Roderic Duncan writes on divorcenet.com that when he handles a case of divorce, he tries to make sure that the person who pays alimony and child support is left with at least over 40 percent of their income, unless the circumstances were exceptional. Sixty percent as alimony is of course much higher than the 25 percent prescribed by our Supreme Court.
This recent judgment in India also specifies that the salary being referred to is the net salary, which is the salary after taxes and insurance. But what it doesn’t specify is what actually constitutes a person’s salary.
As this (honestly odd) piece points out, it isn’t clear whether this includes the perks and allowances that contribute to a certain standard of living, but that aren’t part of a person’s salary per se, like corporate bonuses such as entertainment allowances, travel, medical and car allowances, and privileges like company cars. Even the author of that article concedes that 25 percent seems hopelessly low as an alimony payment. He ends by asking if the low alimony prescribed by the SC would lead to a spike in divorces.