Ordinance Nos,
19 of 1889
13 of 1925
[31st December
, 1889
Short title.

1. This Ordinance may be cited as the Maintenance Ordinance.

Order for maintenance of wife or of legitimate or illegitimate child.

2. If any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his wife, or his legitimate or illegitimate child unable to maintain itself, the Magistrate may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal, order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his wife or such child at such monthly rate not exceeding one hundred rupees, as the Magistrate thinks fit and to pay the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct. Such allowance shall be payable from the date of the order.

Where wife refuses to live with her husband.

3. If such person offers to maintain his wife on condition of her living with him, Magistrate may consider any grounds of refusal stated by her, and may make an order under section 2, notwithstanding such offer, if the Magistrate is satisfied that such person is living in adultery, or that he has habitually treated his wife with cruelty.

Where wife is living in adultery or apart from her husband without sufficient reason or by mutual consent.

4. No wife shall be entitled to receive an allowance from her husband under section 2 if she is living in adultery, or if, without any sufficient reason, she refuses to live with her husband, or if they are living separately by mutual consent.

Circumstances warranting cancellation of order under section 2.

5. On proof that any wife in whose favour an order has been made under section 2 is living in adultery, or without sufficient reason she refuses to live with her husband, or that they are living separately by mutual consent, the Magistrate shall cancel the order.

Period within which application for maintenance of illegitimate child should be made.

6. In the case of an application for an order under section 2 in respect of an illegitimate child, such application shall not be entertained unless made within twelve months from the birth of such child, or unless it be proved that the man alleged to be the father of such child has at any time within twelve months next after the birth of such child maintained it or paid money for its maintenance, or unless such application is made within the twelve months next after the return to Ceylon of the man alleged to be the father of such child, and upon proof that he ceased to reside in Ceylon within the twelve months next after the birth of such child, and no order shall be made on any such application as aforesaid on the

Evidence of mother to be corroborated.

evidence of the mother of such child unless corroborated in some material particular by other evidence to the satisfaction of the Magistrate

Time of cessation of order.

7. No order for an allowance for the maintenance of any child, legitimate or illegitimate, made in pursuance of this Ordinance shall, except for the purpose of recovering money previously due under such order, be of any force or validity after the child in respect of whom it was made has attained the age of sixteen years, or after the death of such child.

Provided that the Magistrate may in the order or subsequently direct that the payments to be made under it in respect of the child shall continue until the child attains the age of eighteen years, in which case such order shall be in force until that period.

Enforcement of orders of maintenance.

If any person against whom an order is made under section 2 neglects to comply with the order, the Magistrate may for every breach of the order issue a warrant directing the amount due to be levied in the manner by law provided for levying fines imposed by Magistrates in the Magistrate’s courts, and may sentence such person for the whole or any part each months allowance remaining unpaid after the execution of the warrant, to simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month.

Order as to costs, and enforcement thereof.

9. When disposing of any application or appeal under this Ordinance, the Magistrate’s Court or the supreme court may order either party to pay all or any part of the costs of such application or of the costs of application and appeal, as the case may be, and such order shall be subject to the provisions and conditions laid down in the Civil Procedure Code, relating to costs so far as they may be applicable, and the amount due under the order shall be recoverable as if it were a fine, and in default of payment imprisonment of either description may be imposed for a period not exceeding one month:

Provided that bills of costs shall be taxed according to the lowest rates specified in the second schedule of the said code under heads “Courts of requests” and “Appeals from Courts of requests”.

Application for cancellation of order or alteration in amount of allowance.

10. On the application of any person receiving or ordered to pay a monthly allowance under the provisions of this Ordinance, and on proof of a change in the circumstances of any person for whose benefit or against whom an order for maintenance has been made under section 2, the Magistrate may either cancel such order or make such alteration in the allowance ordered as he deems fit provided that the maximum monthly rates under the said section be not exceeded.

Copy of order given to party.

11. A copy of the order of maintenance certified under the hand of the Magistrate shall be given without payment to the person in whose favour it is made, or to his or her guardian, if any, or to the person

Order Enforceable in any place

to whom the allowance is to be paid; and any Magistrate having jurisdiction in any place where the person against whom such order is made may be shall on the production of such order and on being satisfied as to the identity of the parties and the non-payment of the allowance due, proceed to issue such warrant, and if necessary pass such sentence as a Magistrate is empowered to do by section 8.

Procedure Attendance of parties at inquiry.

12. The person applying for an order of maintenance or for a warrant to enforce such order (hereinafter called the applicant), and the person against whom such order or warrant is applied for (hereinafter called the defendant), may either appear personally or by pleader:

Provided that it shall be competent to the Magistrate to require the personal attendance of either the applicant or the defendant at any stage of the inquiry.

Inquiry how applied for. Requirement as to stamps.

13. The application for an order of maintenance or for a warrant to enforce such an order shall be in writing and shall be signed by the applicant and shall bear a stamp of twenty five cents, every summons to a defendant or witness shall bear a stamp of fifteen cents; such stamps being supplied by the person at whose instance defendant or witness is summoned:

Provided that the application may be made orally to the Magistrate, who shall upon the necessary stamp being supplied, reduce the application to writing and cause it to be signed by the applicant;

Provided also that it shall be lawful for the Magistrate, on being satisfied that the applicant has not sufficient means to defray the cost of such stamps, to dispense with stamps and to entertain the application and issue process as if stamps had been supplied by the applicant.

Commencement of inquiry.

14. Upon application being made for such order or warrant as aforesaid, the Magistrate commence the inquiry by examining the applicant on oath or affirmation, and such examination shall be duly recorded. If after such examination there is in the judgment of the Magistrate no sufficient ground for proceeding, he may make order refusing to issue a summons.

Attendance of defendant and witness how enforced.

15. The Magistrate may proceed in manner provided in Chapters V and VI of the Criminal Procedure, to compel the attendance of the defendant and of any person required by the applicant or defendant or by the Magistrate to give evidence, and the production of any document necessary for the purposes of the inquiry.

Form of proceedings.

16. All evidence taken by the Magistrate under this Ordinance shall be taken in the presence of the defendant, or, when his personal attendance is not required by the Magistrate, in the presence of his pleader, and shall be recorded in the manner prescribed for trials in the Magistrate’s Court:

Provided that it shall not be necessary to frame a charge or to record the statement of the defendant in the manner prescribed in the Criminal Procedure Code

The parties competent witnesses

Provided also that in any proceedings under this Ordinance it shall be competent to the defendant to give evidence upon oath or affirmation as an ordinary witness, and that a wife shall be a competent witness against her husband.

Right of appeal

17. Any person who shall be dissatisfied with any order made by a Magistrate under section 2 or section 14 may prefer an appeal to the Court of Appeal in like manner as if the order was a final order pronounced by a Magistrate’s Court in a criminal case or matter, and sections 338 to 352 (inclusive) of the Criminal Procedure code shall apply to such appeal.


18. The forms set forth in the Schedule, with such variations as the circumstances of each case require, shall be used for the respective purposes therein mentioned.


Chapter 91, Volume No. 4 Page No.22.