Different Types of Maintenance Issues Handled by a Divorce Lawyer

Divorce proceedings often involve complex legal matters, especially when it comes to financial arrangements such as maintenance. In Singapore, where divorce laws are governed by the Women’s Charter 1961 (“Women’s Charter”), maintenance refers to the financial support provided by one spouse to the other following the breakdown of marriage or even during the marriage.

Maintenance-related issues are a common issue handled by cheap divorce lawyers, even cheap lawyers, and they play a crucial role in navigating these maintenance issues, advocating for their client’s rights, and ensuring fair and equitable outcomes. Let’s explore the different types of maintenance issues handled by divorce lawyers in Singapore.

  1. Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support, refers to the financial support provided by one spouse to the other, typically after divorce or legal separation. However, it should be noted that in Singapore, only the wife or an incapacitated husband is entitled to maintenance from the husband under Section 113 of the Women’s Charter for maintenance during or after divorce proceedings.

Section 114 of the Women’s Charter provides for the factors that the court takes into account when determining the amount of maintenance to be paid by a husband to his wife or former wife, or by a wife to her husband or former husband, and these are as follows:

  • 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
  • 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.
  1. Child Maintenance

Child maintenance involves the financial support provided by one parent to the other parent (who has the care and control of the child) for the upbringing and care of their children following a divorce. Under Section 122 of the Women’s Charter, a child is defined as a child of the marriage who is below 21 years old. Section 127 of the Women’s Charter provides that the court may order a parent to pay maintenance for the benefit of his or her child in such a manner as the court thinks fit.

Divorce lawyers help clients determine the appropriate amount of child maintenance based on factors such as the children’s needs, each parent’s income and earning capacity, the children’s physical and/or mental disability (if any), and contributions to the welfare of the family by either or both spouses.

  1. Interim Maintenance

Interim maintenance refers to temporary financial support provided to a spouse or children during divorce proceedings or during the marriage.

Section 69(1) of the Women’s Charter provides that the court may order the husband to pay monthly sums or a lump sum for the maintenance of his wife upon proving that the husband has neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for her.

Section 69(1A) of the Women’s Charter applies to an incapacitated husband where the wife has neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for him.

Section 69(1B) of the Women’s Charter applies to a child who is unable to maintain himself or herself and where on due proof that a parent has neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for his or her child.

Divorce lawyers assist clients in obtaining interim maintenance orders to ensure their financial needs and welfare are met while the divorce case is ongoing or during the marriage, helping to alleviate immediate financial burdens. Factors that the court takes into account in making a maintenance order are found in Section 69(4) of the Women’s Charter and are as follows:

  • the financial needs of the wife, incapacitated husband or child;
  • the income, earning capacity (if any), property and other financial resources of the wife, incapacitated husband or child;
  • any physical or mental disability of the wife, incapacitated husband or child;
  • the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of 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;
  • the standard of living enjoyed —
  • (i) by the wife before her husband neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for her;
  • (ii) by the incapacitated husband before his wife neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for him; or
  • (iii) by the child before a parent neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for the child;
  • in the case of a child, the manner in which the child was being, and in which the parties to the marriage expected the child to be, educated or trained; and
  • the conduct of each of the parties to the marriage, if the conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it.
  1. Variation of Maintenance Orders

Over time, circumstances may change, necessitating a variation of existing maintenance orders. Under Section 118 of the Women’s Charter, the court may at any time vary or rescind any order for maintenance on the application of the person who is receiving the maintenance or the person who is paying the maintenance, where there has been a material change in the circumstances or where it is proven that the order was based on any misrepresentation or mistake of fact.

Divorce lawyers assist clients in applying for variations to maintenance orders, in most cases, based on changes in financial circumstances, such as job loss, illness, or changes in the children’s needs.

  1. Enforcement of Maintenance Orders

Unfortunately, some spouses may fail to comply with maintenance orders, leaving the other party financially vulnerable.  Under Section 71(1) of the Women’s Charter, if any person fails to make one or more payments required to be made under a maintenance order, the court which made the order may do all or any of the following:

  • for every breach of the order by warrant direct the amount due to be levied in the manner by law provided for levying fines imposed by a Magistrate’s Court;
  • sentence the person to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month for each month’s allowance remaining unpaid;
  • make a garnishee order in accordance with the Family Justice Rules made under section 79;
  • order the person to furnish security against any future default in maintenance payments by means of a bankerʼs guarantee;
  • if the court considers it in the interests of the parties in the maintenance proceedings or their children to do so, order the person to undergo financial counselling or such other similar or related programme as the court may direct; or
  • make a community service order requiring the person to perform any unpaid community service for up to 40 hours under the supervision of a community service officer.

Conclusion

Maintenance issues are a critical aspect of divorce proceedings in Singapore, requiring careful consideration and negotiation to achieve fair and equitable outcomes for all parties involved. Divorce lawyers, even cheap lawyers, play a central role in advocating for their client’s rights and ensuring that maintenance arrangements are tailored to meet their financial needs and circumstances. By addressing a range of maintenance issues, from spousal and child maintenance to interim maintenance, variation and enforcement of maintenance orders, divorce lawyers help clients navigate the complexities of divorce with confidence and clarity, ensuring their financial security and well-being in the aftermath of marital dissolution.

News Reporter