Alimony vs Maintenance: Difference and Comparison

Alimony and maintenance are two co-related terms. When a husband and wife get separated, they go for alimony and maintenance. It’s the financial support a spouse gives to another after the divorce.

Though the terms are co-related, they are not interchangeable. There are some key differences between the two terms which are mentioned below in this article.

Key Takeaways

  1. Alimony is court-ordered financial support paid by one spouse to another after a divorce.
  2. Maintenance is financial support paid by one party to another during a legal separation or divorce.
  3. The length of the marriage determines alimony, while maintenance is based on the income and expenses of each party.

Alimony vs Maintenance

Alimony is a periodic payment made by one spouse to the other for a certain period of time or until the recipient spouse remarries or dies. Maintenance is a similar type of financial support, but it is awarded in cases where the spouses were not legally married, such as in common-law relationships.

Alimony vs Maintenance

Law Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to law

1 / 10

What is the highest form of law in a country?

2 / 10

What is the name of the international treaty that provides a framework for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms?

3 / 10

What type of law deals with relationships between individuals and society?

4 / 10

What is the meaning of the term "trademark"?

5 / 10

What is a resolution in legal terms?

6 / 10

A contract is considered _____ when given through mistake, violence intimidation, undue influence or fraud.

7 / 10

What is meant by the term "penalty" in law?

8 / 10

A agrees to buy from B a certain house. It turns out that the house was dead at the time of bargain, through neither party was aware of the fact. The agreement

9 / 10

_______ is a rule of conduct, just, obligatory, and laid down by a legitimate power.

10 / 10

Which one of the following element is not necessary for a contract?

Your score is


Alimony is a one-time payment. After the divorce, the spouse only has to pay the other only one time. After the one-time payment, the one to pay money does not have to pay the other spouse any kind of financial support.

Maintenance is a periodic type of payment. The spouse has to give regular payments to the other monthly, annually, or for any fixed amount of time.

And maintenance is only allowed to be given in the form of cash. The maintenance has to give until the wife is remarried or permanently for life.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAlimonyMaintenance
What is it?Alimony is a one-time payment a spouse has to pay to the other after a mutual divorce.Maintenance is a periodic payment spouse has to pay to the other who is cannot financially support himself/herself.
FormAlimony can be paid in form of cash, property, or shares of the business.Maintenance has to be paid only in the form of cash.
Who paysThe highest-earning ex-partner.The highest or only earning ex-partner.
Extends toAlimony Does not extend to anyone.It extends to the dependants. The husband has to give higher maintenance if the children are living with the wife.
TerminationAlimony is only a one-time payment. After that, the spouse is not obliged to pay the other.Maintenance is periodic payment, it is terminated when the other one is remarried.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is an allowance, a sum of money a spouse has to give the other after the divorce. It is a legal obligation that the husband has to give a fixed amount of money to his wife after the divorce.

This can be the other way around as well if the wife earns more, however, there are a few cases of that in the world.

Alimony is a one-time payment, which means after one time, the spouse hasn’t had any need or legal obligation to pay again in any case. This payment can be in the form of cash, property, or shares of the business.

The amount which is to be paid can be either fixed mutually between the couple, or the court decides it. Mostly, the wife gets half the property from the husband.

Alimony is mostly the amount which the husband and wife mutually decide when they get separated. Alimony does not extend to anyone else.

If the child custody is with the wife and the wife chooses to take the alimony, the husband is not obliged to pay the maintenance for the child. All these terms are legally formalized during the divorce.

And the alimony is only paid after the divorce is finalized. There is no question of alimony when the marriage is annulled.


What is Maintenance?

Maintenance is the amount of money that the husband has to give to the wife after the divorce. The maintenance is given when the wife is not able to support herself financially.

Maintenance is given periodically. It can be monthly, quarterly, or annually, basically, any interval of time can be fixed.

This maintenance can be interim or permanent. Interim maintenance is the maintenance that the husband has to pay to the wife during the court proceedings as she cannot sustain herself.

And permanent is the one after the court proceedings for the divorce is finalized. A separate petition has to be filed by the wife to ask for interim maintenance along with the divorce petition.

The maintenance can go on for life or until the wife gets remarried. The court can fix the amount that has to be given, or the couple can mutually fix it. Indeed, the maintenance extends to the dependents as well, like parents and children.

Child custody is formalized during the proceedings. If the children live with the wife, the husband must also provide maintenance for them.

And he may have to pay more for the children’s education and marriage and in times of need like medical emergencies.


Main Differences Between Alimony And Maintenance

  1. Alimony is a one-time payment only, while Maintenance is a periodic payment.
  2. Alimony can be paid in the form of money, property, or shares of the business, while maintenance must be paid in cash only.
  3. Alimony does not extend to anyone other than the ex-partner. While the maintenance can be extended to the children.
  4. Alimony is paid once the divorce is finalized. Maintenance has to be paid even at the time of the court proceedings.
  5. Alimony is preferred when the couple is divorcing mutually and setting the terms legally. Maintenance is filed when the wife is not financially stable, and the divorce is not mutual.
Difference Between Alimony And Maintenance

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

dot 1
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to save this article for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own articles box!