An Examination of Maintenance of Estranged and Divorced Spouses in Nigeria and United States of America

Publication Information

Journal Title: Commonwealth Law Review Journal
Author(s): Raphael Olukayode Adeolu
Published On: 12/07/2023
Volume: 9
First Page: 279
Last Page: 297
ISSN: 2581-3382
Publisher: The Law Brigade Publisher

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Raphael Olukayode Adeolu, An Examination of Maintenance of Estranged and Divorced Spouses in Nigeria and United States of America, Volume 9, Commonwealth Law Review Journal, 279-297, Published on 12/07/2023, Available at


Marriage by mankind is a very good union but it encounters obstacles in every race especially when the two parties have to quit the union despite happy days spent together and not minding the effect of such a step on their children. The major obstacle encountered is how the maintenance of the dependent spouse will be accomplished. This is necessary, especially in Nigeria where there are numerous people that cannot enjoy the benefit of maintenance available in marriage under the Act such as those who married under the customary law or religious law only. This paper examined the Law in Nigeria, the common law position and that of the United States of America on the maintenance of estranged and divorced spouses. It examined the law on the maintenance of husband and wife living together in the same room but not in a cordial relationship. It also looked into that of those not living together but yet to finalise a divorce and of those who have legally divorced. The paper relied on both primary and secondary sources of information. The primary source included the statutory and case law in Nigeria and the United States, and other statutes. The secondary source included textbooks, journals and internet materials. It was further discovered that in Nigeria there are customary marriages and religious marriages which do not make provision for maintenance. They are different from marriage under the Act that provided for maintenance. In all the jurisdictions, the financially stronger spouses maintain the weaker ones despite the marred relationship. The paper concluded that fear of maintenance or inability to take care of oneself should not prevent separation or divorce. Besides, a divorce proceeding may take some time before it is decided in court but maintenance of the lesser-income spouse is essential. When the marital union is being affected by separation or during divorce proceedings or immediately after divorce the care should not be stopped by the party maintaining the family. Consequently, maintenance should be extended to every dependent spouse irrespective of the type of marriage that joined them together.

Keywords: Income, Maintenance, Marriage, Separation, Divorce, Estranged Spouse, Family, Marital Union

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