Act No 37 of 1999
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF CHILDREN, ADULT OFFSPRING,DISABLEDOFFSPRINGANDSPOUSESUNABLETOMAINTAIN
THEMSELVESTO ENSURE COMPLIANCE OF THE LAW RELATING TO MAINTENANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE UNITED NATIONSCONVENTIONON
THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILDAND FOR MATTERS CONNECTED THEREWITH OR INCIDENTAL THERETO.
BE it enacted by t Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka as follows :-
1.This Act may be cited as the Maintenance Act, No. 37 of 1999.
APPLICATION FOR MAINTENANCE
Order for Maintenance of a spouse or child or adult offspring or disabled offspring.
2.(1) Where any person having sufficient means, neglects or unreasonably refuses to maintain such person'sspousewho
is unable to maintain himself or herself, the Magistrate may, upon an application being made for maintenance, andupon
proof of such neglect or unreasonable refusal order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of such
spouse at such monthly rate as the Magistrate thinks fit having regard to the income of such person and themeansand
circumstances of such spouse:
Provided however, that no such order shall be made if the applicant spouse is living in adultery orboththespouses
are living separately by, mutual consent.
(2) Where a parent having sufficient means neglects or refuses tomaintainhisorherchildwhoisunableto
maintain himself or herself, the Magistrate may upon an application being made for maintenance and upon proofofsuch
neglect or refusal, order such parent to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of suchchildatsuchmonthly
rate as the Magistrate thinks fit, having regard to the income of the parents and the means andcircumstancesofthe
Provided however, that no such order shall be made in the ease of a non-marital child unless parentageisestablished
by cogent evidence to the satisfaction of the Magistrate.
(3) Where a parent having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his or her adult offspring whoisunable
to maintain himself or herself, the Magistrate may upon an application being made for maintenanceanduponproofof
such neglect or refusal, order such parent to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of such adultoffspringat
such monthly rate as the Magistrate thinks fit, havingregardtotheincomeoftheparentsandthemeansand
circumstances of the adult offspring :
Provided however, that no such order shall be made in the case of an non-marital adult offspringunlessparentageis
established by cogent evidence to the satisfaction of the Magistrate.
(4) Where a parent having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain hisorherdisabledoffspringwhois
unable to maintain himself or herself, the Magistrate may upon an application being made for maintenance and upon proof
of such neglect or refusal, order such parent to makeamonthlyallowanceforthemaintenanceofsuchdisabled
offspring at such monthly rate as the Magistrate thinks fit, having regard to the income of the parents andthemeans
and circumstances of the disabled offspring :
Provided however, that no such order shall be made in the case of a disabled non-marital offspring unless parentageis
established by cogent evidence to the satisfaction of the Magistrate,
(5) Where an order is made by a Magistrate for the payment of an allowance pursuant toanapplicationmadetinder
subsection (I) or (2) or (3) or (4), such allowance shall be payablefromthedateonwhichtheapplicationfor
maintenance was made to such court, unless the Magistrate, for good reasons to be recorded,orderspaymentfromany
(6) Where an application is made for the maintenance of a child, adult offspring or disabled offspring, asthecase
may be, under subsection (2), (3) or (4), as the case may be. the court may, either on the application oftheparties
or of its own motion, add the other parent as a party to such application and make such order as is appropriate against
one or both such parents.
Period of validity of Order.
3.No Order for an allowance for the maintenance of any child, adult offspring or disabled offspring made underthisAct
shall, except for the purpose of recovering money previously due under such Order, be of any forceorvalidityafter
the person in respect of whom the Order is made ceases to be a child, adult offspring ordisabledoffspring,asthe
case may be, within the meaning of this Act.
Application for maintenance.
4.(1) An application for maintenance may be made -
(a)where such application is for the maintenance of a child or disabled offspring, by suchchildordisabled
offspring or by any person who has custody of such child or disabled offspring
(b)where such application is for the maintenance of an adult offspring, by such adult offspring orwheresuch
adult offspring is incapable of making such application, by any person on his or her behalf and
(c)where such application is for the maintenance of a spouse, by such spouse or where such spouse isincapable
of making such application, by any person on his or her behalf.
(2) An application for maintenance may be made to the Magistrates Court within whose jurisdictiontheapplicantor
the person in respect of whom the application is made or the person against whom such application is made, resides.
ENFORCEMENT OF ORDER FOR MAINTENANCE
Enforcement of Orders.
5.(1) Subject to the provisions contained in section 10, where any person against whom an order is madeundersection
2 or the proviso to section 11 (I) thereinafter called the "respondent")neglectstocomplywithsuchorder,the
Magistrate may, for every breach of the order, sentence such respondent for thewholeoranypartofeachmonths
allowance in default, to simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month.
(2) The Magistrate may, if an application is made in that behalf by any person entitled to receive any paymentunder
an order of maintenance, before passing a sentence of imprisonment on the respondent, issueawarrantdirectingthe
amount in default to be levied in the manner provided by law for levying fines imposed by Magistrates in the Magistrate
Attachment of salary of respondent.
6.(1) If on the application of a person entitled to receive any payment under an order of maintenance,itappearsto
the Magistrate that the respondent has defaulted in the payment of maintenance due for a period exceedingtwomonths,
the Magistrate may, alter inquiry, by an order, thereinafter referred to as an "attachment ofsalaryorder")require
the person to whom the order is directed, being a person appearing to the Magistrate to be therespondent'semployer,
to deduct, for such period as may be specified in the order, suchamountfromtherespondent'ssalaryasmaybe
specified in the order and forthwith to remit that amount to the applicant in the manner directed by Court.
(2) (a)Before an order is made under subsection (1) of this section, the MagistrateshallnoticeShepersonon
whom he proposes to serve such order, So show cause, ifany,whyanordershouldnotbemadeunderthat
subsection, and to require him to furnish to the court, within such period as may be specified in such order, the
salary particulars of the respondent. Any order made under subsection (1) of this section may be thesubjectof
an appeal to a High Court established by Article 154P of the Constitution by any person aggrieved bysuchorder
but notwithstanding such appeal, the Magistrate may decide to continue proceedings under this Act. The provisions
of section 14 of this Act shall, mutatis mutandis, apply to, and in relation to, every such appeal.
(b)The Magistrate may also by an order served on the respondent, require him to furnishtotheCourtwithin
such period as may be specified in such order, a statement specifying -
(i) the name and address of his employer or employers as thecasemaybe.ifhehasmorethanone
(ii)such particulars as to his salary, inclusive of deductions, as may be within his knowledge and
(iii) any other particulars as are required or necessarytoenablehisemployeroremployersto
(3) A statement furnished in compliance with an order made under paragraph (b) ofsubsection(2)ofthissection
shall, in any proceedings any court, be received as evidence and be deemed to be prima facie proof oftheparticulars
referred to in the said paragraph, unless the contrary is shown.
(4) The Magistrate shall not make an attachment of salary order, if it appearstohim,thatthefailureofthe
respondent to make any payment in accordance with the order of maintenance in question,wasnotduetohiswilful
refusal or culpable neglect.
(5) In determining the amount to be deducted from therespondent'ssalaryinformsofsubsection(1)ofthis
section, the Magistrate shall have regard to the resources and needs of the respondent, and the needsoftheperson,
the payment of whose maintenance is in default.
(6) An attachment of salary order shall not come into force until the expiration of fourteen days fromthedateon
which a copy of the order is served on the person to whom the order is directed.
(7) An attachment of salary order may on the application of the respondent or the person entitled to receivepayment
under the order of maintenance, be discharged or varied.
(8) A person to whom an attachment of salary order is directed shall, subject to the provisions of thisAct,comply
with the order or, if the order is subsequently varied under subsection (7), with the- order as varied.
(9) Where, on any occasion on which any deductions have to be made from the salary of a respondentinpursuanceof
an attachment of salary order, there are in force, two or more orders forattachment,ofsalary,relatingtosuch
salary, made under this Act or other written law, then, for the purposes of complying with this section,theemployer
shall, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other written law, first give effect to an orderofattachment
made under this Act and deal with any other order in respect of the residue of the respondent's salary according to she
respective dales on which they came into force.
(10)An employer who in pursuance of an attachment of salary order makes anypaymentshallforthwithgivetothe
respondent a statement in writing specifying the amount deducted from his salary in pursuance of such order.
(11)Any employer who fails or neglects to comply with an attachment of salary order shall be liable on convictionby
a Magistrate's Court to a fine not exceeding five hundred rupees and in the case of a second orsubsequentconviction
in respect of the same attachment of salary order, to a fine not exceeding one thousand rupees :
Provided however, it shall be a defence for an employer charged with failing or neglecting to comply with an attachment
of salary order, to prove that be took all reasonable steps to comply with such order.
(12)provisions of this section shall, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other written law, haveeffect
in relation to an attachment of salary that may be made by a Magistrate under this Act
(13)For the purposes of this section -
(a)where the respondent is a public officer or an officer of a provincialpublicservice,theheadofthe
department to which he is for the time being attached shall be deemed to be his employer
(b)where the respondent is a member of the Local Government Service and employed in anylocalauthority,the
Commissioner if it be a Municipal Council, or the Chairman if it be an Urban Council or aPradeshiyaSabha,as
the case may be, shall be deemed to be his employer
(c)where the respondent is a person employed in any Corporation, StatutoryBoardorCompany,theprincipal
officer of such Corporation. Statutory Board or Company, as the case may be, shall be deemed to be his employer
(d)where the respondent is a person employed in any partnership, the Managing partner or theManagerofsuch
partnership shall be deemed to be his employerand
(e)where the respondent is a member of the armed forces, the commander of the unittowhichheisattached
shall be deemed to be his employer.
Payment of maintenance through Post office or Bank.
7.(1) Where an order for maintenance is madeundertheprovisionsofthisAct,theMagistratemaydirectthe
respondent, that the amount of the payment due under such order shall be deposited each month on or behalf such date as
may be specified in such order in favour of the person entitled to such payment, at such post office or a bankasmay
be specified in such order, and the amount so deposited may be drawn by such person from such post office orbank.It
shall be the duty of such officer for the time being in charge of such post office or hank to pay thatamounttothe
person entitled thereto upon application made in that behalf.
(2) Where a direction has been made under subsection (1) of this section and there has been defaultinthedeposit
of payments as specified in such direction, the person entitled to receive paymentmayreportsuchdefaulttothe
Court, and the Magistrate may in such event, notice the respondent to show cause why he should not bedealtwithfor
such default, and if satisfied after due inquiry that there has been any default, impose such punishment as is provided
for by this Act for such default.
Application for cancellation of order or alteration in amount of allowance.
8. On the application of any person receiving or ordered to pay a monthly allowance under the provisions of thisActand
on proof of a change in the circumstances of any person for whose benefit or against whom an order for maintenancehas
been made under this Act, the Magistrate may either cancel such order or make such alteration in the allowanceordered
as he deems fit:
Provided that such cancellation or alteration shall take effect from the date on which the application for cancellation
or alteration was made to such Court, unless the Magistrate for good reasons to be recorded, orders otherwise.
Copy of order to be given to party, and where order enforceable.
9.A copy of the order of maintenance certified under the hand of the Magistrate shall be givenwithoutpaymenttothe
person in whose favour it is made, or to his or her guardian or a person having actual custody of such person, ifany,
or to the person to whom the allowance is to be paid, andtheCourtmakingsuchorderoranyMagistratehaving
jurisdiction over the place where any such person or the respondent may be, shall, on the production of such orderand
on being satisfied as to the identity of the parties and the non-payment of the allowance due, proceed under section5
or section 6.
Application to be in writing and process to be free of stamp duty.
10. Every application for an order of maintenance or to enforce such an order, shall be in writing and shall besignedby
the applicant or the person making the application on his behalf and shall be free of any stamp duty. Every summonsto
a respondent or a witness shall also be free of stamp duty.
Commencement of Inquiry.
11. (1) Every application for an order of maintenance or to enforce an order of maintenanceshallbesupportedbyan
affidavit stating the facts in support of the application, and the Magistrate shall, if satisfied thatthefactsset
out in the affidavit are sufficient, issue a summons together with a copy of such affidavit, on the person against whom
the application is made to appear and to show cause why the application should not be granted :
Provided however the Magistrate may in his discretion at any time make an interim order for the paymentofamonthly
allowance which shall remain operative until an order on the application is made, unless such interim order isearlier
varied or revoked, and such interim order shall have effect from the date of the application or from such later date as
the Magistrate may fix.
(2) The Magistrate shall, after such inquiry as he may considernecessary,makeorderallowingorrefusingthe
application, and if necessary, may make an order under section 5 or section 6 :
Provided however, an application under this Act shall not be rejected on account of any error, omission or irregularity
in the application, or affidavit required to be filed in terms of subsection (1) of this section,orinthesummons
issued thereunder, or in other proceedings before, or, during, an inquiry under this Act, unless sucherror,omission
or irregularity has caused material prejudice to a party.
Attendance of respondent and witnesses.
12. (1) The Magistrate may proceed in the manner provided in Chapter V and VI of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act,No.
15 of 1979 to compel the attendance of the person against whom the application is made and of anypersonrequiredby
the applicant or the person against whom the application is made orbytheMagistratetogiveevidence,andthe
production of any document necessary, for the purposes of the inquiry.
(2) When the person against whom the application is made is absent, the provisions of section192oftheCodeof
Criminal Procedure Act, No, 15 of 1979 shall, mutatis mutandis, apply.
Form of proceedings
13. Subject to subsection(2) of section 12 all evidence taken by aMagistrateunderthisActshallbetakeninthe
presence of the person against whom the application is made or, when his personal attendance isnotrequiredbythe
Magistrate, in the presence of his attorney-at-law, if any, and shall be recorded in the manner prescribed for trail in
the Magistrates Court:
Provided however, it shall not be necessary to frame a charge or to record the statement of the person against whom the
application is made in the manner prescribed in the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, No. 15 of 1979 :
Provided further, that in any proceedings under this Act itshallbecompetentforthepersonagainstwhomthe
application is made to give evidence upon oath or affirmation as an ordinarywitness,andeachspouseshallbea
competent witness against the other spouse.
Right of Appeal.
14. (1) Any person who shall be dissatisfied with any order made by a Magistrate tindersection2orsection11may
prefer an appeal to the relevant High Court established by Article I54P of the Constitution in like mannerasifthe
order was a final order pronounced by Magistrate's Court in a criminal case or matter, and sections 320to330(both
inclusive) and sections 357 and 358 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, No. 15of1979shall,mutatismutandis,
apply to such appeal :
Provided however, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in section 323 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act, No. 15 of
1979 such order under section 2 shall not be stayed by reason of such appeal, unless the High Courtdirectsotherwise
for reasons to be recorded :
Provided further that the Magistrate in forwarding the record to the High Court shall retain a copy ofhisorderfor
purposes of enforcement.
(2) Any person dissatisfied with an order made by a High Court in the exercise of itsappellatejurisdictionunder
this section, may prefer an appeal therefrom to the Supreme Court, on a question of law. with theleaveoftheHigh
Court, and where such leave is refused, with the special leave of the Supreme Court, first had an obtained.
15.The forms specified in the Schedule to this Act, with such variations as the circumstances ofanycasemayrequire.
shall be used for the respective purposes therein mentioned.
16.When disposing of any application or appeal under this Act, a court may order cither party to pay ailoranypanof
the costs of such application or the costs of such application and appeal, as the case may be. and the amount due under
any such order shall be recoverable as if it were a fine and in default of payment, simple imprisonment may beimposed
for a period not exceeding one month.
Other actions not barred.
17. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as depriving a person including a child, adultoffspring,disabledoffspring,
spouse or parent of the right, if any, to maintain a civil action for maintenance.
Amendment of Chapter 56.
18. The Married Women Property Ordinance is hereby amended by the repeal of section 26 and section 27 of that Ordinance.
Repeal of Chapter 91.
19. The Maintenance Ordinance is hereby repealed.
20. (1) Notwithstanding the repeal of the Maintenance Ordinance-
(a)all proceedings instituted under that Ordinanceand
(b)all appeals from orders made under that ordinance,
and pending on the day preceding the date of commencement of this Act shall be heardanddisposedof,inall
respects, as though such Ordinance had not been repealed.
(2) Every order made under the Maintenance Ordinance and pending on the day preceding thedateofcommencementof
this Act, shall be deemed to be an order made under this Act and may be enforced accordingly.
Sinhala text to prevail in case of inconsistency.
21. In the event of any inconsistency between the Sinhala and Tamil texts of this Act, the Sinhala text shall prevail
22.In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-
"adopted" when used in relation to a child or offspring means a child or offspring adopted under the provisions ofthe
Adoption of Children Ordinance or the Kandyan Law Declaration and Amendment Ordinance
"adult offspring" means any marital or non-marital or adopted offspring, who iseighteenyearsofageorisover
eighteen years of age and under twenty five years of age
"child" means any marital or non-marital or adopted offspring who has not reached eighteen years of age
"disabled offspring means any marital or non-marital or adopted offspring of whatever age, who is or becomes physically
or mentally disabled so as to render such offspring incapable of earningalivelihoodorofadequatelysupporting
himself or herself
"marital" when used in relation to a child or offspring means a child or offspring born to parents who are married
"non-marital" when used in relation to a child or offspring means a child or offspring borntoparentswhoarenot
"parent" includes an adoptive parent
"salary" includes all allowances and wages.