Separate Maintenance Law and Legal Definition

Separate maintenance is a decree requiring a spouse to make payments for the support or maintenance of the other spouse under a separation agreement. A judgment ordering separate maintenance is governed by state laws, which vary by state. For example, in Michigan, which doesn't have legal separation statutes, the order grants a divorce from bed and board but not from the bonds of matrimony. Marital property will be divided and the court may order spousal support. Separate maintenances payments are included as gross income of the recipient for federal tax purposes.