How to Get Maintenance from Your Spouse in Malaysia?

How to Get Maintenance from Your Spouse in Malaysia by TYH & Co. Divorce Lawyer Malaysia


When a marriage breaks down, one spouse may need financial support from the other. This is known as maintenance or alimony. The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 gives the court the power to order a spouse to pay maintenance to the other spouse in certain circumstances for non-Muslims in Malaysia. This article will solely focus on the maintenance for spouse (or alimony) which is different from maintenance for children.

Who Can Claim Maintenance?

  • A woman can claim for maintenance from her husband under the law.
  • The court can also order a woman to pay maintenance to her husband or former husband if he is incapacitated, wholly or partially, from earning a livelihood by reason of mental or physical injury or ill-health, and the court is satisfied that having regard to her means it is reasonable so to order.

When Can Maintenance Be Ordered?

The court can order maintenance to be paid in the following circumstances:

  • During the course of matrimonial proceedings. This means that a spouse can apply for maintenance before the divorce is finalized.
  • After the grant of a decree of divorce or judicial separation. This means that a spouse can apply for maintenance after the divorce is finalized.
  • If the spouse is found to be alive after being presumed dead. This means that a spouse can apply for maintenance if their spouse was presumed dead but is later found to be alive.

How Much Maintenance Can Be Ordered?

The amount of maintenance that can be ordered will vary depending on the circumstances of each case. The court will consider the following factors when determining the amount of maintenance to be paid:

  • The means and needs of both spouses. This includes their income, assets, and expenses.
  • The degree of responsibility each spouse bears for the breakdown of the marriage.
  • The standard of living that the spouses enjoyed during the marriage.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • The age and health of the spouses.
  • Whether the spouse seeking maintenance is able to work.
  • Whether the spouse seeking maintenance has any dependent children.

Duration of Maintenance

In general, an order for maintenance will expire on the death of either spouse, unless the order is expressed to be for a shorter period or has been rescinded.

The right to receive maintenance from a former spouse will cease if the divorced person remarries or lives in adultery with another person. This is regardless of whether the maintenance is ordered by the court or agreed upon by the spouses, unless the agreement provides otherwise.

The rationale behind this is that the purpose of maintenance is to provide financial support to a spouse who is unable to support themselves after the breakdown of the marriage. Once the spouse remarries or enters into a relationship with another person, they are no longer considered to be in need of financial support.

Can a Maintenance Order Be Varied or Rescinded?

The court can vary or rescind an order for maintenance if there has been a material change in circumstances. This means that if the circumstances of the spouses change significantly, the court may order a change to the amount of maintenance being paid.

What Happens If a Spouse Doesn’t Pay Maintenance?

If a spouse does not pay maintenance, the other spouse can take legal action to enforce the order. This may involve taking the spouse to court or garnishing their wages.


The power of the court to order maintenance of spouse is a complex area of law. If you are considering applying for maintenance, you should speak to a divorce lawyer in Malaysia. They can advise you on your rights and help you to prepare your application.

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