High profile divorces are stories of claims and counterclaims best settled outside court

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High profile divorces are stories of claims and counterclaims best settled outside court

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  • There is no law in India that states that the wife should get a certain percent of their husband's income or wealth as alimony.
  • Actual settlement amount depends on the lawyer, the income of the husband and number of dependents, among other factors.
  • If there is accusation of mental cruelty or domestic physical violence against the husband, those will have to be tested before the court.
In the process of reaching an agreement following their divorce, Nawaz Modi Singhania, 53, the separated spouse of billionaire industrialist Gautam Singhania, has reportedly requested 75% of his purported $1.4 billion fortune for herself and their two daughters.

When Bollywood star Hrtithik Roshan and Sussanne Khan divorced in 2013, she had reportedly demanded ₹400 crore as alimony. It was later settled at ₹100 crore, though not confirmed.

High-profile divorce cases make headlines, and when industrialists are involved they may also affect share prices. But when a divorce happens and the wife makes an alimony claim, how do things pan out?

"The court will look at the education levels of the person and their ability to be employed while deciding alimony. It's very unlikely that somebody will get 75% of the assets," said Delhi-based corporate lawyer Anuroop Omkar, founding partner of law firm AK & Partners.

There is no law on settlement percentage
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There is no rule in India which says that you have to give so and so percent to your wife as alimony.

“It depends on a number of factors. One of them is what is your strategy to get the money- what is the lawyer’s strategy, what are arguments, what is your lawyer’s research. This happens because there is no set rule,” says Vandana Shah, a divorce lawyer.

So the actual settlement amount depends on the lawyer, the income of the husband,what the wife is earning and depends on what comes out in court. It also depends on the number of dependents.

In the Rajnesh vs Neha divorce case, a few years ago, the court ruled that there's no fixed formula to determine the amount of maintenance to be granted. The awarded maintenance should be fair and practical, ensuring that it enables the wife to sustain herself comfortably and reasonably. The adequacy of the sum should be assessed based on the wife's ability to maintain herself with a reasonable standard of living.

“Since November 2020, as per Rajnesh V/s Neha as per the Supreme Court guidelines, every wife who makes a claim for maintenance,makes an application in the prescribed format which - includes the financials of the wife, her monthly expenses, investments, properties she owns and so on. The husband is also expected to file his application with his financials in the format prescribed by the Supreme Court,” says Sandhya Vasudevan Sondhi, founder, SVS Legal, a Mumbai-based boutique law firm that handles family matters.
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Outside court settlement

It is advised that such separation issues be amicably dealt with. Especially in the case of the Singhanias, there will be allegations and counter allegations by both the parties, especially since the tenure of marriage is long.

“Looking at the gravity of the whole situation and looking at the children and the long tenure of marriage, if both the parties talk it out and settle the matter, it could be wonderfully handled. If a divorce can be done in a mutual way, it works in the best interest of both the parties, the children and also the respective families,” says Advocate Siddhartha Shah , a divorce lawyer.

The law thus provides a solution to this. Section 28 of the special marriage act, talks about of divorce by mutual consent.

“If there are unreasonable claims, then one of the parties may not agree. Then the court will have to look at each and every aspect of the accusations and then the court will have to weigh it according to the primary and secondary evidence that is produced before the court,” says Shah.
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It is noteworthy that if there is accusation of mental cruelty or domestic physical violence against the husband, that will have to be tested before the court. Then the case goes to trial and that can become a time consuming process.
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