What is Alimony: Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

The financial ramifications of a divorce might reduce the applicant's standard of living and, in most cases, their very survival. This gives the legal basis for enacting alimony and maintenance provisions, the aim of which is to compensate a spouse in the case of a legal separation or divorce. This article sheds light on a spouse's entitlements and responsibilities in certain circumstances.

What is Meaning of Alimony?

Alimony is derived from the Latin phrase "Alimonia," which means sustenance. It refers to an allowance or quantity of money that a spouse is obligated to send to a wife in order to provide for her sustenance.

The terms alimony and maintenance are synonymous, and the terms are used differently in various regions of the nation. It refers to financial support provided to a spouse following a divorce or legal separation. The clause only applies to parties whose marriage was legitimate.

Permanent Alimony and Maintenance

Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 gives the court the authority to grant any spouse the right to demand permanent alimony and maintenance. Such alimony or maintenance is to be decided "at the time of passing any decree" or at any time afterwards. This provision gives the court the authority to award any of the following −

  • A gross sum.

  • A monthly payment.

  • A periodic sum for a duration that exceeds the applicant's life.

Types of Alimony and Maintenance

Alimony and maintenance are divided into two categories −

  • Interim alimony and maintenance

  • Permanent Alimony and Maintenance

Interim Alimony and Maintenance

Interim maintenance is a clause under which a husband is expected to pay the wife's maintenance expenses throughout the course of the court proceedings. In addition, the husband is obligated to reimburse the wife for the expense of court procedures.

Permanent Alimony and Maintenance

This provision takes effect following marriage dissolution or judicial separation, and the husband is compelled to pay any sum determined by the court. Depending on the time period, payments can be made on a regular or lump-sum basis.

Passing any Decree

The right to alimony and maintenance under Section 25 is dependent on the court issuing a decision in the manner specified in Sections 9 to 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. In Chand Dhawan v. Jawaharlal Dhawan, (1993) 3 SCC 406, the Supreme Court held that the phrase "passing any decree" means that an order for permanent alimony can be made when a decree granting any substantive relief under the Act is issued, rather than when the main petition is dismissed or withdrawn. The term "decree" refers to a decree issued under Sections 9–13 of the Act that disrupts the parties' marital status. If relief under any of these sections is denied, alimony and maintenance relief cannot be provided under Section 25. If a spouse is unable to get relief under Section 25 due to the failure of the main proceedings, the spouse may seek support under Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.

Another crucial point in this regard is whether a second wife whose marriage has been declared null and void under Section 11 of the Act is entitled to maintenance under Section 25 of the Act. The Supreme Court ruled in Savitaben v. State of Gujarat, AIR 2005 SC 1809, that when a marriage is declared null and invalid due to bigamy, the wife is not entitled to support under the Hindu Marriage Act. Later, in Ramesh Chandra Daga v. Rameshwari Daga, AIR 2005 SC 422, the Supreme Court ruled that the spouse of a null and invalid marriage entered into during the pendency of an earlier marriage is entitled to maintenance upon the granting of a nullity declaration.

Quantity of maintenance

Sections 24 and 25 don't specify a rigid rule for determining the quantum of maintenance. It will be based on a variety of factors, such as −

  • Means and conduct of the spouses.

  • Duration of marriage

  • Education and support of children.

  • Ability of the spouse to earn

  • Other reasonable wants of the applicant

The court has broad discretion in granting support pendente lite, but it must not be used arbitrarily. It should fall within the jurisdiction of the section and be guided by sound marriage law standards.

Variation or rescinding of an Order

Section 25(2) of the Act states that upon proof of a change in circumstances, the court may adjust, modify, or revoke any order for permanent alimony at the request of either party. However, because a gross-sum payment order is one-time payment, it cannot be altered or amended. Section 25(3) also contemplates the following two scenarios in which maintenance under Section 25(1) may be revoked if the person in whose favour the order is granted −

  • Married again.

  • In the case of the wife, she has not been chaste.

  • Outside of marriage, the husband has had sexual relations with any woman.


In India, every maintenance law is different. One such clause is Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act. India is a developing country. People are also growing and attempting to break out of the 50s and 60s mentality. Men and women have equal legal standing in today's world. However, certain legal provisions may have been overlooked and must be revised. Clauses 2 and 3 of Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 are examples.


Q1. Can a wife claim maintenance after permanent alimony?

Ans. If a wife was given one-time permanent alimony as full and final settlement at the time of mutual consent divorce, she cannot seek maintenance after the divorce ever.

Q2. Who can claim permanent alimony?

Ans. According to Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, only the wife/husband is entitled to permanent alimony, and the children are not entitled to any sum under that heading.

Q3. What are permanent alimony and maintenance?

Ans. Permanent alimony is the sum paid once for the divorced wife's maintenance, whereas maintenance is the amount paid on a monthly basis by the husband before, during, and/or after the divorce order is issued.

Q4. Which courts are entitled to permanent alimony and maintenance?

Ans. The Supreme Court stated that the amount of permanent alimony ordered must be appropriate for the parties' circumstances and the spouse's ability to pay maintenance.

Updated on: 17-Mar-2023

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