Difference Between Alimony And Maintenance

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Alimony And Maintenance

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In India, marriage is a social commitment. However, as divorce has been legal and dysfunctional marriages have become an acceptable norm, many homes have been dissolved or broken, and more marital ties have been slackened and unraveled. In addition, the rules that are governing divorces and their consequences should be, examined carefully. Healthy marriages are beneficial to both the mental and physical health of spouses. Growing up in a happy and healthy family protects children from all kinds of emotional, physical, Scholastic, and social difficulties.

Many people experience melancholy, self-questioning Issues, and other psychological discomforts which lead to their divorce.

Alimony and maintenance are two phrases that are often used interchangeably. Alimony and maintenance are the factors that come to the picture when a husband or wife files or gets the divorce proceedings. These terms are defined, as the financial support that one spouse provides to the other following a divorce. Despite their similarities, the terms are not interchangeable. Our Indian law has several specific rules, dealings with alimony and maintenance, also their consequences.

The following are some of them:

  • The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, Section 13B and under section 24.
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 125, was enacted in 1973.
  • Many such laws deal with divorce alimony and maintenance factors. 

In general terms, alimony refers to the financial support that a person is required of and the court orders the spouse to give that financial authority to the person during or after the divorce. Maintenance entails financial assistance for a person living expenditures, regardless of their source.

Under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, for example, the husband and wife, both have the legal right to seek lifelong alimony and maintenance. The woman only has the right to demand permanent alimony and maintenance, only and only if the couple marries under the Special Marriage Act of 1954.

Alimony vs. Maintenance

To cast light on the main difference between alimony and maintenance is that, alimony is the one-time payment of money to the person after getting the divorce, and maintenance is the money that has to be given to the partner who is not financially stable within every year, month or in some particular period. 

Under Indian law, if the partner is unable to financially support himself or herself then the one-time payment is provided to the partner known as alimony. The partner, who must pay these are not required to pay any more partnered support for the rest of their lives, once the alimony has been paid to them. The husband or wife can file an alimony case against each other with the help of Indian rules for a divorce attorney. 

The allowance given by the husband to the wife in a specified duration as monthly, yearly, determined by the court known as the maintenance. The wife files a maintenance petition against the husband when there is no prior agreement the partners ever made about the supporting amount. 

Maintenance, unlike alimony, can only be paid in cash or can be provided in any other form of payment, and the husband cannot provide maintenance to the wife in the form of property. Maintenance cannot be provided by the husband to the wife in the form of property, as maintenance is something that is required for lifestyle management.

 In mutual consent divorces alimony is favored, wherein the husband and wife both agree to give divorce and spell down the terms of their divorce, and other legal aspects such as alimony/maintenance, child custody, and asset division, amicably.

Maintenance can be done on a temporary or permanent basis, depending on the duration sealed by the court and the two individuals. If the court believes that the woman will be unable to support herself during the court procedures, it may grant interim maintenance to the wife even if the petition for maintenance is still under proceedings. The wife must submit a second petition for interim maintenance if she isn’t able to pay the legal processes cost because of any reason associated with the divorce petition. After the divorce proceedings are completed, the husband must pay permanent maintenance to the wife for the rest of her life or until she remarries.

Difference Between Alimony and Maintenance in Tabular Form

Basis of Comparison Alimony Maintenance
Meaning Alimony refers to the financial support that a person is required of and the court orders the spouse to give that financial authority to the person during or after the divorce. The allowance given by the husband to the wife in a specified duration as monthly, yearly, determined by the court known as the maintenance.
Duration It is a one-time payment, later the spouse is not obliged. The husband must pay permanent maintenance to the wife for the rest of her life or until she remarries.


The one who pays The ex-partner who’s earning is the most. The ex-partner has an earning to the partner who doesn’t have any other source of income.
Payment forms The alimony is paid in the form of cash or property. Maintenance is paid in form of cash.
Expands to It isn’t expanded to anybody. It’s extended to the husband as the ex-partner might have their children to take care of.

What is Alimony?

In a divorce or separation arrangement, alimony is the payment made to a spouse. The purpose of alimony is to offer financial support to a spouse who has a smaller part of the income, or none at all. 

Alimony is given either to the husband or the wife. In traditional, marriages with children, the man is the traditional breadwinner, and most of the women give up a profession to raise the children, putting them at a financial disadvantage following a separation or divorce. 

The main aim of alimony is to provide spousal assistance so that they can continue to live their previous lifestyle after the divorce without any kind of troubles and financial crisis. 

Alimony is frequently allotted to the ex-spouses of a long-term marriage, which will end upon death, remarriage, or court order.

The ex-spouse who has to pay the alimony may face civil or criminal prosecution if by chance he or she refuses to pay or does not keep up with the orders.

  • If the woman has a job, she should be able to: Even when the woman is employed and her net salary differs significantly from her husband's net worth then also she will be awarded alimony to maintain the same quality of life as her husband.
  • If the woman is not working, the court will ask the husband to even give the amount of alimony on the lady’s educational credentials, and earning capabilities.
  • Alimony is not considered for child support, separate maintenance has to be provided by the father for the children's needs. If the mother works, she will also be asked to provide for the child in proportion to her earnings.
  • The husband will be granted alimony only in a situation where the husband is disabled and cannot get a warning for his life and his wife's earnings. 

The Supreme Court set the monthly alimony limit at 25% of the husband's gross wage. Changes in the husband's wage can lead to increments or decrements. 

Different Types of Alimony?

In India, there are two types of alimony

  1. During the court procedures, an interim maintenance payment is made.
  2. Amount paid at the end of the formal separation process.

'Streedhan' is also entitled to the lady. Whatever she has received as a gift from her family or the Husband’s family it should remain with her only after the divorce. 

Alimony is not a requirement of every spouse. Without the financial assistance of their former partner, a spouse is unable to support themselves is typically when alimony is awarded. Alimony can be transitory or permanent. When the spouse receiving alimony is still young and wants or needs some time to start a new life with a career, and earning well on its own, alimony is just temporary. It is permanent, if the spouse has a very little chance of becoming financially secure due to age or handicap, or if the partner does not have the same pleasure and comfort during their married life.

What is Maintenance?

The husband must pay the wife a considerable amount that is decided by the court after the divorce is called maintenance. When the woman is unable to keep up with the expense on herself, maintenance is paid. Maintenance is performed regularly. Any time interval can be decided; monthly, quarterly, or annually.

This upkeep can be temporary or long-term. Interim maintenance is the amount of money that the husband must give to the wife while the case is in court since she is unable to support herself. And the one that remains once the divorce proceedings are completed is permanent. In addition to the divorce petition, the wife must file a second petition for interim maintenance.

Maintenance can continue until the wife remarries. The sum that must be given as maintenance to the spouse, can be set by the court or by the couple themselves. During the proceedings, child custody is formalized. If the children live with the woman, the husband is also responsible for their upkeep. In addition, he may be required to pay extra for the education and marriage of his children, as well as in times of need, such as medical emergencies, he has to give it in any kind of emergency or situation related to the children. 

The statutory elements specified in section 504(a) of the Marriage and Dissolution Act will be used by the judge in a divorce proceeding to determine which spouse will be responsible for paying maintenance. The following are some of the factors that the statutory body will see for maintenance 

  • Each spouse's requirements. 
  • Each spouse's current and prospective earning capability
  • Any reduction in the current and future earning power of a spouse who has postponed obtaining an education or pursuing a career as a result of the marriage. 

The judge will calculate how much maintenance a spouse will get after the court deems that maintenance is appropriate and which spouse will be liable for paying maintenance to the other spouse. Before 2015, judges had complete descriptions about how much maintenance a spouse should get. Maintenance is computed by subtracting 30% of the payer spouse's gross yearly income from 20% of the payer spouse's gross annual income.

Main Differences Between Alimony and Maintenance in Points

  1. Alimony is a one-time payment whereas maintenance is paid regularly. 
  2. Alimony can be paid in any mode or form, that is it can be cash, property, or a share in the business, but in maintenance, it should be only in cash. 
  3. In alimony, only the ex-partner is entitled. While the maintenance is in which the child is also included. 
  4. When the divorce is finalized, alimony is paid to the ex-partner. But the maintenance is given even during the legal proceedings. 
  5. Alimony is provided only when both the partners agreed to the terms and mutually want to get separated. Whereas in maintenance, it is provided when the ex-partner is not financially stable. 


The spouse can submit a separate petition for financial assistance when the husband or the wife, is unable to live by themselves financially. 

Alimony or maintenance can be used to provide financial support. Although, these two phrases of alimony and maintenance, are often used interchangeably in many places.

Alimony is a one-time payment and is paid once. It can be either in cash or any other form like property or shares of the business Maintenance is a payment that is made regularly. Every month or yearly, the husband must give the wife a set amount. It is possible to set a certain time interval. This payment is made until the wife is financially established or has remarried. Alternatively, this payment could be made for the rest of your life. It is dependent on the circumstances



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"Difference Between Alimony And Maintenance." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 17 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-alimony-and-maintenance-17>.

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