In social life it is expected that one person help another person in times of need. Especially members of a family are more intimate than any other persons so they maintain one another such social values are backed by law.

The revised family code of Ethiopia provides maintenance provisions. According to the code maintenance includes food, shelter, clothing, although facility and education if appropriate. Obligation of maintenance shall be due if the person who wants maintenance has not any income and is not in a position to work in any income generating activity. The one who is responsible to give maintenance is called a debtor and the one who is entitled to maintenance is called creditor.

An obligation to supply maintenance exists between relatives by consanguinity or affinity in the direct line. Likewise it exists between brothers and sisters. The obligation to supply maintenance shall terminate when the marriage is dissolved unless it is dissolved by death. The creditor shall lose his right to maintenance if he committed a crime on the debtor or his spouse or descendant or ascendant. If he even attempt to commit crime on one of the above persons he will loss his right.

The amount of the maintenance is fixed by considering depth of the creditors need and the means of the debtor. The obligation of maintenance shall be fulfilled by means a maintenance allowance paid by the debtor to the creditor. The amount of maintenance may be reviewed at any time by the court upon the demand of the debtor or of the creditor. The allowance of maintenance shall be payable at a place where it is comfortable for the creditor.


The maintenance allowance can not be assigned or attached. But it may even before they fall due, be assigned in favor of institutions of charity which provide for the needs of the beneficiary of the allowance.

All maintenance allowances which have not been received or claimed within three months from their due date shall cease to be due unless the creditor proves that such allowances were necessary for once subsistence.

The debtor may discharge his obligation of maintenance by taking the creditor into his residence. But the debtor may never be compelled to take the creditor into his residence. If several persons are liable to supply maintenance to a creditor, the debtor may claim maintenance from one of such persons. But the debtor who has been condemned to pay the allowance may collect from the rest of the debtors.

Order of debtors

Different debtor shall bear the liability arising out of the obligation to supply maintenance according to the following order.

  1. in the first place, the spouse
  2. in the second place, the descendants, according to their degree
  3. In the third place, the ascendants according to their degree
  4. In the fourth place, the brothers and sisters
  5. In the fifth place, the descendants by affinity, according to their degree
  6. In the sixth place, the ascendants by affinity, according to their degree.

The debtors for maintenance may validly agree, as regards their reciprocal relations, that maintenance shall be supplied to their common creditor by one of them.

In case of adopted child, the child himself, his spouse and his descendants can not claim maintenance from the family of origin of the adopted child unless the adoptive family is not in a position to supply such maintenance. The obligation of maintenance extends to funeral expenses of the creditor. The debtor shall pay the funeral expanses of the creditor.

Any person who paid for funeral expense of such person can claim it back from the creditor. No agreement can be made in change the above provisions of maintenance.

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