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Maintenance Under Hindu Laws

July 10, 2024 | Family Law

Maintenance under section 3(b) (i) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956 provides a provision for food, clothing, residence, education, and medical assistance and treatment.

What is Maintenance?

Maintenance, from a legal stance, refers to the financial assistance given to either of the litigating parties on their application before a competent court. The maintenance shall only be provided through an order passed by the court with a jurisdiction to do so. Maintenance under Hindu Laws provides provision for food, clothing, residence, education, and medical assistance and treatment.

Persons Eligible for Claiming Maintenance Under Hindu Laws

  • Husband.
  • Wife.
  • Widowed daughter-in-law.
  • Children (legitimate sons, illegitimate sons, unmarried legitimate and illegitimate daughter, married daughter unable to maintain herself).
  • Parents.
  • Any other dependent person.

Individual From Whom Maintenance Can Be Claimed

  • An individual who has the means to provide maintenance. The term ‘maintenance’ encompasses not only physical assets or properties but also an individual’s capacity and intent to provide such support.
  • An individual who has expressly neglected or refused the obligation to maintain, either through actions or explicit refusal.

Laws Governing Maintenance

The provision of maintenance is governed by various enactments enlisted below:

a) Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

Sections 125-128 of the Act (Criminal Procedure Code, 1973) provide for a speedy, effective and inexpensive remedy against persons neglecting or refusing to maintain their wives, children, or parents.

A legally wed wife, a partner who has stayed under the same roof for a considerable period, children and elderly parents, and adoptive parents who are unable to maintain themselves can claim maintenance under the said Act.

Non-Grant of Maintenance

The right to claim maintenance shall stand revoked in cases wherein the wife is found to be involved in an adulterous way of living or is living separately from her husband without any sufficient ground, or by mutual consent of both the parties.

Further, maintenance cannot be claimed by a divorcee wife. Once the right to maintenance has been waived off by wife at the time of divorce, it cannot be reclaimed later.

b) Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Sections 24 and 25 of the Act state to provide for maintenance either to a wife or husband. Such maintenance is granted to a party who has no independent income sufficient for his or her support, and necessary expenses. The party who wants to claim maintenance shall move to the competent court.

The maintenance shall be granted in the form of a gross sum or a monthly sum not exceeding the lifetime of the individual approaching the Hon’ble Court or till the time such person remarries. The quantum of maintenance shall depend on various aspects such as the Applicants ability to earn, children’s education, and maintenance. The maintenance shall be granted at the Judge’s discretion within the ambit of Section 24 of the Act.  

c) Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.

  • Chapter III of the Act provides for maintenance of wife, minor children, parents, widowed daughter-in-law, and other dependents.
  • A wife is entitled to claim maintenance under Section 18(1) of the Act during her lifetime, till the matrimonial relationship persists.
  • The Act lays down that it is not mandatory for the wife to be living with husband. Wife’s right to claim maintenance prevails even if she lives separately from her husband by providing a sufficient cause of separation like desertion, cruelty, leprosy, living with another wife, keeping a concubine, conversion, or any other reasonable ground.
  • A widowed wife who is unable to maintain herself after death of her husband, has no estate of her own and is unable to get maintenance out of the real estate of her husband, mother or father, son or daughter, is entitled to claim maintenance from her father-in-law.
  • The Act provides for maintenance to be provided to minor children, either legitimate or illegitimate, biological or adopted, till the age of majority, and till marriage in case of an unmarried daughter.
  • The Act also obligates both sons and daughters to provide for maintenance of elderly parents, both mother and father, who are unable to provide for themselves out of their earnings, property, or assets.

d) Maintenance and Welfare of parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007.

The Act was enacted to provide financial security, welfare and protection for senior citizens including medical treatment. The Act lays down provisions for children to provide maintenance to their parents. The Act provides a maintenance sum of INR 10,000 (maximum) to senior citizens. However, if the senior citizen is not satisfied, an appeal can be filed by them before Appellate tribunal (established in Deputy Commissioner Office).

e) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

The Act provides interim maintenance during the pendency of the legal proceedings. The maintenance granted by virtue of this Act is in addition to the maintenance granted under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Interim Maintenance can be claimed by aggrieved woman and children under the said Act.

The Act also provides for rights of a woman partner in a non-marital relationship/live-in relation. The said Act provides for the protection, maintenance and right of palimony to the woman upon her complaint.


In view of the above Hindu Laws provide for maintenance of husband, wife, children (legitimate sons, illegitimate sons, unmarried legitimate and illegitimate daughter, married daughter unable to maintain herself), parents, and dependents, provided that the conditions are met by an individual seeking such maintenance and the Hon’ble Court is satisfied that the maintenance so claimed deserves to be granted. The quantum of such maintenance depends on the ability of the individual to pay maintenance. The laws also lay down conditions wherein the maintenance duly granted shall stand revoked. 

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