In the event of a divorce, one of the most important matters that has to be resolved is maintenance. Today, changes in the Singapore legal system have created more innovative and creative ways of addressing maintenance, allowing for better-tailored maintenance arrangements to suit the different circumstances of parties.
Maintenance for Wife
The Women’s Charter (Cap.353) provides that a man is required to maintain his wife throughout the marriage, during any matrimonial proceedings and for a period after the grant of a judgment of divorce, judicial separation or nullity of marriage. Muslim women are not entitled to the maintenance after the conclusion of a Syariah divorce proceedings.
During mediation, parties may discuss to agree on a quantum of maintenance, be it an agreed lump sum maintenance, an agreed monthly maintenance over an agreed period or to agree to no maintenance at all. The key word here is ‘agreed’. Parties are given the opportunity to resolve their issues in mediation without the need to hear the matter in the Courts, thereby saving money and avoiding the risk of a more acrimonious relationship.
However, it is admitted that not all cases may be mediated, given the unique circumstances of each case. If the maintenance matter has to be heard in the Family Justice Courts, the Courts have the discretion to order such maintenance as they think fit.
Factors that the Singapore Courts take into consideration
The Courts would consider the following factors in Section 114 of the Women’s Charter:-
- the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
- the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
- the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
- the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
- any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;
- the contributions made by each of the parties to the marriage to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family; and
- in the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to either of the parties to the marriage of any benefit (for example, a pension) which, because of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage that party will lose the chance of acquiring.
Maintenance for Children
There is a legal duty on a parent to provide maintenance or contribute to the maintenance for his/her children, whether they are legitimate or not, within his custody or not. Also, the duty may exist for a parent who has taken a child into his family and accepted the child as a child of the family.
This responsibility is not placed on a man alone but is placed on either parent, depending on circumstances of each case. The Courts will decide on the quantum of maintenance after considering both parents’ financial standing; the children’s maintained lifestyle and the expectations of both parents concerning the child’s upbringing (i.e. education, training, etc.)
Applications for maintenance of a child may be made by the guardian of the child, any person with custody of the child, any siblings (older than 21 years old) of a child who is below the age of 21, or the child himself if he has attained the age of 21.
Maintenance is generally owed by a parent to a child who is below the age of 21. However, where any of the followings applies, the Courts may order maintenance for a child above the age of 21:
- Where the child is physically or mentally disabled;
- Where the child is or will be serving full-time National Service (NS);
- Where the child is or will be or would be receiving instruction at an educational establishment or undergoing training for a trade, profession or vocation, whether or not while in gainful employment.
In both types of maintenance, there are many different so-called ‘concoction’ of maintenance orders by the Courts. Our highly experienced lawyers will be able to advise you on the types of maintenance arrangements that would suit your circumstances.
The article was originally posted at irblaw.com.sg