Legal discussion of alimony:- Before knowing the rules related to alimony, we need to know what alimony is. Sustenance is the basic needs of people for living such as food, clothing, shelter, medical etc. A capable and earning person is always bound to provide maintenance to his wife, minor sons and daughters.
Maintenance of wife:-
Many of us know that Muslim marriage is a civil contract. As a result of this agreement, the husband and wife live together and raise a family. Marriage creates certain legal rights as well as certain responsibilities. Maintenance is one of these responsibilities.
Maintenance is a duty for the husband and a right for the wife. The wife is entitled to receive from the husband all the food, clothing, medical and other means necessary for the conjugal relationship. This right exists when the wife is married to her husband, and if there is a divorce for any reason, it will remain in force even after the divorce.
But after divorce it is a limited right and remains in force for a limited time. Muslim law does not assign the same responsibility to the wife as to the husband. Because it is assumed that most girls are financially dependent on their father or husband. However, today the reality has changed a lot. That is why the wife will get maintenance from the husband but the husband will not get any maintenance from the wife.
Maintenance after divorce:-
If there is a divorce between the husband and wife for any reason, then the wife will be entitled to receive maintenance for some time even after the divorce. 90 days from the date on which the divorce takes effect.
Currently, the courts of our country, especially the High Court, have played a significant role in interpreting Muslim law. In the case of Hifzur Rahman v. Samsun Nahar Begum and others (47 DLR 1995 p. 54), the High Court Division held that, “The husband must provide such maintenance to his divorced wife as is necessary for her, even after the expiry of the period of iddatkaal. shall be for an indefinite period until the divorced wife remarries”. But this judgment of the High Court Division was overturned by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, the highest court of the country. In this same case, the Appellate Division finally decided to give maintenance to the divorced wife only for three months (90 days) i.e. Iddatkaal period.
Legal rights of wife in recovery of maintenance:-
1:-Wife has right to sue for maintenance as per Family Courts Ordinance, 1985. It is a civil remedy. This Ordinance provides for filing of cases in Family Court regarding maintenance, dowry, divorce, guardianship etc. Earlier, maintenance cases could be filed in Magistrate Court under Section 488 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1898. In 2009, the Criminal Procedure Code was amended and this section was deleted. (Source: Bangladesh Gazette, 8 April 2009).
2:- Section 9 of the Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961 states that if the husband fails to provide maintenance to the wife, the wife can apply to the local chairman in this regard. The Chairman shall constitute the Arbitration Council and fix the amount of maintenance and issue the certificate. If the husband still does not pay the fixed maintenance, the wife can recover it in the form of arrears of land revenue.
Example: Rana and Sulpha got married several years ago. But still the Rana did not take Salfa with him to their house. Salfa is living in her father's house. In such a situation, will Salfa be able to collect maintenance from Rana? According to the law, if the wife lives separately from the husband without any reasonable cause, the husband is not obliged to pay her maintenance. However, husband is bound to pay maintenance if they live apart for any reasonable reason. This decision was taken in Md. Ibrahim Hossain Sarkar v. Mosa. Solemnnessa (1967, 19 DLR p. 751) case.
Reasonable reasons may include separation for payment of dowry or separation due to husband's unkind behavior, torture or hindrance to religious observance etc. For many other reasonable reasons, wife will get maintenance even if she lives apart.
According to the Muslim Divorce Act, 1939, the wife is entitled to a decree of divorce if the husband fails to pay maintenance for two years or neglects to pay maintenance.
A case may be mentioned in this regard. The case is Safura Khatun v. Osman Gani Mollah (1957) 9 DLR, 455. In this case it was held that the maintenance given by the husband was an isolated incident. The amount of maintenance that the husband was supposed to pay, the small amount that the husband used to pay is also very irregular. Therefore, in this case it will be held that the said husband has not fulfilled the conditions of Kabinnama and because of this the wife can use talaq-e-taufiz and apply for divorce.
LIMITATION OF LAW REGARDING WIFE MAINTENANCE:-
The right of wife to maintenance in Muslim law is undoubtedly a good thing. But if we observe a little better, then its limitations emerge very clearly in front of us, such as-
Alimony is awarded for a limited period after divorce. We know that in this patriarchal society of our country, most of the women are not self-reliant, so if a woman gets divorced, she has to leave her husband's house and move to her father's house. Even in her father's house, the girl's condition is very shameful and humiliating, she is considered a burden to everyone.
Sometimes such a situation arises that it is not possible for the girl to stay in her father's house. And most of the girls can't even have a separate house because they are not financially well off. That's why girls live in their husband's family by enduring hundreds of tortures and insults just to meet some of their daily needs, and even accepting incidents like polygamy.
Since there is no system of equal sharing of post-marital assets of husband and wife after divorce in our country, the wife has to bear the entire financial loss after divorce.
It is for these reasons that some changes in our maintenance laws are highly recommended. A new law on maintenance is necessary especially for the social and economic security of a woman after divorce and to eliminate discrimination against women.
Maintenance of children:-
Father is legally responsible for child support. The father will maintain the boy until he reaches puberty and the girl before marriage. If there are any sick and disabled children, the father will also provide for them. If the children fail to provide their own maintenance even after attaining the age of majority, the child can claim maintenance from the father as per the law. But in this case the father is not obliged to pay maintenance. Even when the mother is responsible for the child, the father will provide maintenance.