Inadequate provision of maintenance for deserted, separated or divorced wives and for the children of the marriage or union may result from poverty or the inability to trace the man responsible, especially in the case of desertion or where the two parties were not married. Inadequate alimony from divorce or separation proceedings may derive from poverty, or alimony may be legally restricted on the grounds of adultery, cruelty or other misconduct by the woman. Inadequate alimony also includes the unjust division of marital property. The result is usually poverty and may aggravate the adjustment problems of both wife and children. Under Muslim law or African customary law, the wife's dowry after divorce may not be returned; or even if returned, it is often inadequate to maintain her or her children.
Inadequate alimony provision can occur wherever there is divorce, separation or desertion.