VARIATION OF MAINTENANCE ORDER
The countless nights filled with tears and heartache are slowly becoming a blur of memories filled with sadness and rage. Your mind struggles to replay each and every quarrel that you ever had with your spouse and you wonder where did it all go wrong. Should I have worked less and spent more time with her? Or should I have given him a second chance? You are going through a Divorce and you have never felt such betrayal. Your once soul mate is now your arch-nemesis. Fortunately for you I.R.B. Law LLP is here to try help you make sense of the situation that you are in.
During a divorce in Singapore, the parties may have arrived at an agreement about the maintenance payable by the husband to the wife and/or to the children of the marriage. If such an agreement is reached the Parties the Singapore Court will take note of such an agreement and endorse the Maintenance Order of Court. However if the parties disagree on the amount that is to be paid and contests the amount, the Court will make an order for maintenance based on what the Court itself deems fit having review each of the parties case.
Order of Court: Maintenance
When an Order of Court has been issued, the parties have to follow the terms stated in the Order. Failing to follow the Order would warrant a breach of an Order of Court. Thus the party who wishes to enforce the Order would take out the necessary application to the Court to apply for the enforcement of maintenance arrears or even an Attachment of Earning Order.
Attachment of Earning Order
The Attachment of Earnings Order will allow the Order of Court (regarding the Maintenance) to be attached to the party’s bank account. This means that the amount payable as maintence by the breaching party will be deducted from the party’s salary and credited into the other party’s bank account.
How long do you need to pay maintenance
An order for maintenance will be in force for the period stipulated in the Court Order or when the children turns 21 years old, remarriage of the wife or death of the wife or husband. This Order will continue to be effective unless it is varied.
Variation of Maintenance
There are times after a divorce where life makes a sudden turn for the worst and you become financially burdened. The Singapore Courts understand that when there has been a material change in your circumstances you may have to make changes to the Maintenance Order and have it changed (varied). It is worth nothing that this cannot simply be a minor change in the person’s circumstance and the change must be material and an ongoing one. For example if you become declared bankrupt, sever medical condition, a significant increase or decrease in salary or a newly obtained wealth. The power of the Court that enables it to do so is found in Section 118 of the Women’s Charter.
Section 118 of the Women’s Charter (http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;ident=c6f787bf-efb7-44c1-912b-7d3ffc9de34e;page=0;query=DocId%3A%22f0897dd7-1f3a-45a9-b1e7-ba30fef2dbba%22%20Status%3Ainforce%20Depth%3A0;rec=0#pr118-he-.)
The court may at any time vary or rescind any subsisting order for maintenance, whether secured or unsecured, on the application of the person in whose favour or of the person against whom the order was made, or, in respect of secured maintenance, of the legal personal representatives of the latter, where it is satisfied that the order was based on any misrepresentation or mistake of fact or where there has been any material change in the circumstances.
It is also important to note that this material change in circumstance cannot be self inflicted as parties cannot rely on a material adverse change that was self-inflicted. As example of this is when one of the parties purposely reduces his own income or financial health in order to escape from his obligation to pay maintenance. Similarly, the beneficiary of the maintenance order cannot be allowed to rely on his or her own lavish spending to apply for an upward variation. An example of this is where an ex-wife goes into financial difficulties due to spending on lawyers beyond her means for the divorce proceedings.
How to apply for a Variation of Maintenance
An application should be made by way of summons with a supporting affidavit filed in the original suit under which the initial order was made. This supporting affidavit should indicate why you are seeking to vary the maintenance order. One should also include documented evidence to support the reasons and grounds for variation of the Order of Court.
The Court’s discretion
The principles guiding a Court in deciding whether to vary a maintenance order is essentially the same as when the Court decides on a fresh maintenance application. The Court has a wide discretion to take into account all the circumstances of a case and consider the reasonableness of the claims. The difference now is that the Court will look into the applicant’s new circumstances and compare it with the applicant’s circumstances when the original maintenance Order was made.
The Lawyer’s involvement
Having a lawyer to assist you to vary a maintenance order is beneficial. The lawyer can advise you on the strengths and weakness of your case. This in turn could save you from unnecessary legal fees and time spent in Court when you wish to make an application for either the enforcement or the variation of an existing Court Order.
The lawyer will represent you in all proceedings in connection with the variation Order and enforcement proceedings if necessary. This includes, but is not limited to, the drafting and filing of the applicant’s documents required by Court, including affidavits.
The lawyer will also represent the applicant in negotiations with the other party, engage in mediation sessions and at Court for mentions, pre-trial conferences, status conferences and hearings.
How we can help you.
At I.R.B Law we have experienced lawyers who are well versed in Civil and Syariah divorce proceedings who will be able to guide you through and explain to you through out each and every stage of your divorce. We understand that going through such an event in your life is heart wrenching and emotional, so contact us so that we can advise you on your matter and help you focus on getting back up on your feet. Our first consultation is usually free as we wish to focus on you and not your wallet. Don’t hesitate and reach us at Hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at 6298 2537.