The provision of food, clothing, and other basic necessities of life. A husband or wife is obliged to maintain his or her spouse (see failure to maintain). Parents are bound at common law to maintain their minor children, and since the Family Law Reform Act 1987 and the Child Support Act 1991 both parents, whether married or not, have a legal responsibility to support their children financially if they can afford to do so (see child support maintenance). Neglect or refusal to provide this maintenance is a criminal offence.
Before 1881 it was common for settlements to include a power for the trustees to maintain and educate minors. Since then, a statutory power has existed enabling trustees to pay money for the maintenance, education, or benefit of a minor; this power is subject to any contrary provision in the settlement.
The obligation after a divorce of one spouse to support another or of a parent to support a child of the family is often referred to as maintenance; this is more correctly known as financial provision or financial relief.