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Alimony vs. Maintenance: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 29, 2024
Alimony is financial support paid by one ex-spouse to another after divorce, while maintenance is a broader term for financial support during or after marriage or civil union.
Alimony vs. Maintenance

Key Differences

Alimony is a legal obligation for a person to provide financial support to their spouse during or after marital separation or divorce. It is a specific term used primarily in divorce law. The purpose of alimony is to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing a continuing income to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse. On the other hand, maintenance can refer to either spousal support or child support. It is a broader term that encompasses all forms of financial support that one family member is legally obligated to provide to another.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
In the context of a divorce, alimony is determined by various factors including the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and the age and health of each spouse. This type of financial support is specifically designed to provide for the living expenses of the spouse who earns less income. Maintenance, while similar, may also refer to the ongoing obligation to provide for the financial needs of children from the marriage, which is not typically considered under the term alimony.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
Alimony payments can be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances. Temporary alimony may be granted during the course of divorce proceedings and is intended to maintain the living status of the lower-income spouse until the divorce is finalized. Permanent alimony, which is less common, may continue after the divorce is finalized. In contrast, maintenance might be used to describe both temporary and permanent support obligations, including the care and upbringing of children or the support of a spouse, regardless of the legal proceedings.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
The determination of alimony can be quite complex, involving legal negotiations and potentially court rulings. It is primarily concerned with the financial disparities between the divorcing spouses. Maintenance might be negotiated and determined in a similar way, but it can include considerations beyond just the spouse-to-spouse relationship, such as the needs of children.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
Lastly, the terminology of alimony versus maintenance can vary depending on legal jurisdictions. In some regions, alimony might be referred to as spousal support or maintenance. However, maintenance is a more universally applicable term, encompassing a wide range of family support obligations, including but not limited to spousal support.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Financial support paid by one ex-spouse to another after divorce.
Financial support during or after a marriage or civil union, including child support.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Purpose

To offset economic disparity caused by divorce, supporting lower-income spouse.
To provide for family members' needs, including children and spouse.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Duration

Can be temporary (during divorce proceedings) or permanent.
Varies widely; includes ongoing child support and spousal support.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Legal Context

Primarily used in divorce law.
Broader family law context, including divorce and child custody.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Factors for Determination

Based on marriage length, income disparity, standard of living, etc.
Includes spousal and child needs, financial capabilities of family members, etc.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
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Alimony and Maintenance Definitions

Alimony

Alimony is the financial support that a legally separated or divorced person is ordered to give to their former partner.
The alimony she received was crucial in maintaining her lifestyle after the divorce was finalized.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Maintenance

Maintenance is the financial support provided for a spouse's living expenses during or after marital separation.
She received maintenance from her husband during their separation to cover her basic living costs.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Alimony

Alimony is a court-ordered provision for a spouse's support following marital separation.
Her alimony payments helped her transition smoothly into her new life post-divorce.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Maintenance

Maintenance is the provision of financial support to a former spouse or family members after a separation.
The maintenance she received was crucial in keeping her household running smoothly post-divorce.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Alimony

Alimony is a financial obligation imposed on one spouse to support the other after separation or divorce.
After the divorce, John was required to pay alimony to his ex-wife to help her maintain her standard of living.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024
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Maintenance

Maintenance is a legal obligation to financially support a spouse or children following a divorce.
The court ordered him to pay maintenance to support his children’s education and wellbeing.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Alimony

Alimony refers to the financial assistance given by one ex-spouse to the other for sustenance post-divorce.
The court ruled that alimony was necessary to bridge the income gap between the former spouses.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Maintenance

Maintenance encompasses both spousal and child support, ensuring the well-being of family members.
As part of their divorce settlement, they agreed on a fair amount for maintenance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Alimony

(Law) An allowance for support made under court order to a divorced person by the former spouse, usually the chief provider during the marriage. Alimony may also be granted without a divorce, as between legally separated persons.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

The act of maintaining or the state of being maintained
Nutrients essential to the maintenance of good health.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Alimony

A means of livelihood; maintenance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

The work of keeping something in proper condition; upkeep
Car maintenance.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Alimony

(legal) A court-mandated allowance made to a former spouse by a divorced or legally separated person.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Provision of support or livelihood
Took over the maintenance of her family.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Alimony

The means to support life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Means of support or livelihood
Was ordered to pay maintenance for both children.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Alimony

Maintenance; means of living.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

(Law) The wrongful aiding of another in the pursuit or defense of a lawsuit, especially in jurisdictions where nonparties are legally prohibited to provide financial assistance.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Alimony

An allowance made to a wife out of her husband's estate or income for her support, upon her divorce or legal separation from him, or during a suit for the same.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Actions performed to keep some machine or system functioning or in service.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Alimony

Court-ordered support paid by one spouse to another after they are separated
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

(legal) A tort and (in some jurisdictions) an offence committed when a third party who does not have a bona fide interest in a lawsuit provides help or acquires an interest to a litigant's lawsuit.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Alimony

Alimony is a periodic pre-determined sum awarded to a spouse or former spouse following a separation or divorce.
He set aside a portion of his salary each month for alimony as per the divorce agreement.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Maintenance

Alimony, a periodical payment or a lump sum made or ordered to be made to a spouse after a divorce.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

(legal) Child support.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Money required or spent to provide for the needs of a person or a family.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

(biology) The natural process which keeps an organism alive.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

The act of maintaining; sustenance; support; defense; vindication.
Whatsoever is granted to the church for God's honor and the maintenance of his service, is granted to God.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

That which maintains or supports; means of sustenance; supply of necessaries and conveniences.
Those of better fortune not making learning their maintenance.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

An officious or unlawful intermeddling in a cause depending between others, by assisting either party with money or means to carry it on. See Champerty.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Those actions required for the care of machinery, a building, etc., to keep it clean and in proper functioning condition, and to prevent or forestall damage due to normal use.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Payments, such as child support or alimony, to a dependent child not living with one or to a divorced wife.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Activity involved in maintaining something in good working order;
He wrote the manual on car care
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Means of maintenance of a family or group
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Court-ordered support paid by one spouse to another after they are separated
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

The act of sustaining life by food or providing a means of subsistence;
They were in want of sustenance
Fishing was their main sustainment
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 22, 2024

Maintenance

Maintenance refers to the ongoing financial assistance given to a spouse or former spouse for personal upkeep.
His maintenance payments ensured that his children and ex-wife lived comfortably.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 23, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is alimony taxable?

As of my last update in April 2023, alimony is taxable for the recipient and tax-deductible for the payer in the U.S.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Can alimony be modified?

Yes, alimony can be modified based on changes in financial circumstances or life events.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

How is alimony calculated?

Alimony is calculated based on factors like income disparity, length of marriage, and individual needs.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

What is maintenance in legal terms?

Maintenance is financial support provided to a spouse or children during or after marital separation.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

How is maintenance different from alimony?

Maintenance is a broader term that may include child support, whereas alimony specifically refers to spousal support post-divorce.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Can maintenance be given during marriage?

Yes, maintenance can be provided during marriage, especially in cases of separation.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

What is alimony?

Alimony is financial support paid by one ex-spouse to another following a divorce.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

How long does alimony last?

Alimony duration varies, ranging from temporary to permanent, depending on the divorce agreement.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Is maintenance mandatory in divorce?

Maintenance is not always mandatory; it depends on individual circumstances and legal rulings.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Can alimony be a lump sum payment?

Yes, alimony can be arranged as a lump sum payment instead of periodic payments.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Is maintenance affected by employment status?

Yes, the employment status of either party can impact maintenance decisions and amounts.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Can maintenance be denied in a divorce?

Maintenance can be denied if both parties are financially independent or under certain legal circumstances.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

What factors influence the amount of maintenance awarded?

Factors include financial needs, duration of marriage, and each party's earning capacity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

What happens to alimony if the recipient remarries?

Alimony typically ends if the recipient remarries, as their financial situation changes.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Are there tax implications for maintenance payments?

Tax implications for maintenance payments depend on local laws and the nature of the payments.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Can women pay alimony to men?

Yes, women can pay alimony to men if they are the higher earners.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

How long does maintenance last?

The duration of maintenance varies and can be temporary or long-term, based on the agreement or court decision.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Are alimony payments fixed or variable?

Alimony payments can be either fixed or variable, depending on the agreement or court order.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Does cohabitation affect maintenance?

Cohabitation can affect maintenance, especially if the recipient’s living situation significantly changes.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Can maintenance include healthcare and education expenses?

Yes, maintenance can include specific provisions for healthcare, education, and other family needs.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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