Alimony, temporary or permanent, is granted at the court’s discretion.
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Under Sri Lankan law, maintenance with regard to divorce takes two forms:
Alimony pendente lite, or support payments made to a spouse pending divorce proceedings, and
Permanent alimony, or support payments made to a spouse following divorce.
Alimony Pendente Lite
Pending divorce proceedings, either spouse has the right to claim maintenance from the other, so long as they can prove that they are in need of financial support, that the other party is equipped to provide the required support, and that they have a reasonable chance of success in the main divorce action.
Upon pronouncing a decree of divorce, it is at the discretion of the court to require either party to do any of the following for the other:
Make any conveyance or settlement as the court deems reasonable.
Pay a gross sum of money that the court deems reasonable.
Pay annual or monthly sums of money that the court deems reasonable.
Secure the above-mentioned payments through the pledging of immovable property, the execution of a bond, or the purchase of a policy of annuity in an insurance company or any other institution the court deems fit.
It is at the court’s discretion also to discharge, modify, temporarily suspend, revive, or enhance any such order.
Upon divorce, the right to custody will be granted by taking the child’s best interests into account.
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When custody of a child becomes an issue while the parents are still legally married, preference will be given to the father. However, exceptions are made where the child in question is a baby still dependent on the mother, where the father doesn’t care for the child, and where the child’s safety is in question.
Upon divorce, the right to custody will be granted by taking the child’s best interests into account. Once the child reaches the age of discretion – 14, if the child is a boy, and 16 if the child is a girl – the child’s views will influence the granting of custody.
A parent will always be given preference over a third party.
For all our refusal to acknowledge it, the rise of divorce in Sri Lanka is a statistical reality. It is our hope that a better understanding of the legalities that govern the procedure will function not only to aid those faced with the prospect of divorce, but as the catalyst that sets a much-needed conversation in motion.