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DEFINITION OF MAINTENANCE UPON DIVORCE

Dictum

Maintenance means the provision made by a man for a woman who was formerly his wife. See Hayes v. Haves (2000) 3 NWLR Pt. 648 page 276 at 293-294. Maintenance is intended to provide for the needs of the wife and not to mark disapproval of the husband’s conduct. However the misconduct of the wife may be treated as relevant to her claim for maintenance in certain circumstances.

— A. Aboki, JCA. Adejumo v Adejumo (2010) – CA/A/168/08

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HUSBAND IS OBLIGED TO PROVIDE MAINTENANCE FOR HIS WIFE & CHILDREN

In Nanna v. Nanna (2006 3 NWLR Pt. 966 page 1 at 41 Abba Aji J.C.A. said on the duty of Husband to maintain his wife and children thus:- “The law has clearly provided for the criteria to be followed. A man has a common law duty to maintain his wife and his children and such a wife and child or children have a right to be so maintained. The right of a wife and child to maintenance is not contractual in nature. The husband is obliged to maintain his wife and may by law be compelled to find them necessaries, as meat, drink, clothes et cetera, suitable to the husband’s degree, estate or circumstance. In assessing maintenance, Section 70(a) gives the Court the discretionary power to order and assess maintenance of a party, it is not likened to a claim for special damages where the claimant must strictly prove his entitlement to such award before same can be awarded by the court as submitted by the appellant’s Counsel.”

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WHERE HUSBAND FAILS TO MAINTAIN WIFE & CHILDREN, HE WILL BE COMPELLED

A husband has a duty under the common law to maintain his wife and his children. It is the right of the wife and the child to demand that they be so maintained. Where a husband neglects to discharge his responsibility of maintaining his wife and children he can be compelled by law. The duty to provide maintenance entails the provision of food (balanced diet), clean water, clothing and shelter by the husband. A man who discharges this duty efficiently acquires for himself the title or appellation of Bread Winner. The importance of providing necessaries to the family is captured by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 under Section 17(3)(h) which enjoins the State to encourage the promotion of family life. It also stipulates under Section 17(3)(f), (g) that the State has a duty towards ensuring that children are protected against material neglect and to provide assistance in deserving cases.

— A. Aboki, JCA. Adejumo v Adejumo (2010) – CA/A/168/08

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FACTORS TO DETERMINE MAINTENANCE FOR WIFE & CHILD

A literal interpretation of Section 70(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act will reveal that the sum to be awarded for maintenance of a wife and child of the marriage shall be determined inter alia by – “(a) The means of the parties, which has been interpreted to mean capital assets of the parties including contingent and respective assets. See Damulak v. Damulak (2004) 8 NWLR Pt. 874 page 157, at 171-172. (b) The earning capacity of the parties (c) Conduct of the parties to the marriage (d) Other relevant consideration may include – (i) the existence or non existence of children (ii) the age of the children (iii) the station in life of the parties and their life styles (iv) Inflationary aspect of cost of living. See Hayes v. Hayes (2000) 3 NWLR Pi. 648 page 276: Akinbuwa v. Akinbuwa (1998) 7 NWLR Pt. 559 at page 601: Nanna v. Nanna (supra).

— A. Aboki, JCA. Adejumo v Adejumo (2010) – CA/A/168/08

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