Helping the Child: Child Maintenance in Singapore

Helping the Child: Child Maintenance in Singapore

You look at your bank statement, and you wished it was a few digits longer. You feel at an all time low because you cant to give your children the life you wished you had and wished for them. If you find your self in a situation where you are struggling to support your children after a divorce, this article may be able to offer you some insight.

 

In Singapore even if you divorce your spouse, you still need to support your child (whether adopted or not). You cant avoid this responsibility by disowning your child either. The Singapore Courts are of the view that the child’s needs are paramount and parents (whether biological or not) have to help their children.

The Duty of a Parent in Singapore

According to the Women’s Charter, Section 68, children are entitled to financial support from their parents. The law states, “It shall be the duty of a parent to maintain or contribute to the maintenance of his or her children…” The parent is to fulfil his or her duties regardless of whether the child is living with the parent or another person.

 

It is important to note that the parent is also to fulfil his or her duties regardless of whether the child is legitimate or illegitimate. The forms of financial support include clothing, food, education, medical needs and any other accommodations. Additionally, a non-parent may also become responsible for maintenance of a dependent child if he or she accepts the child into the family. However, the non-parent will no longer have to care and provide for the child if the child’s birth mother or father comes knocking asking to bring the child home with them. At that point, the non-parent may receive get reimbursement in the form of debt by the birth parents for the expenses of the child.

Why do People File for Maintenance in Singapore?

A child can file for maintenance if he or she is unable to independently manage him or herself or in the case that his or her parent has neglected or refused to provide reasonable care. Then the Court may order that parent to pay a monthly allowance or a lump sum for the maintenance of the child.

Who can apply for Child Maintenance in Singapore?

• Anyone who is a guardian or has custody of the child
• A child who is 21 and is still a full-time national serviceman or student
• Any sibling who is 21 or older
• Anyone appointed by the Minister

The Courts Criteria regarding Child Maintenance in Singapore.

The amount of payable maintenance depends on a range of factors. The Court will settle on the amount of maintenance after considering the following factors:
• Financial needs of the child
• The income/earning capacity of the providing parent (i.e. the financially stronger parent generally pays more)
• Any mental or physical disability of the child
• The standard or living enjoyed by the child before a parent neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for the child (e.g. eating a lot of pricey organic food)
• The manner in which he was being educated or trained

When do I stop paying for Child Maintenance in Singapore?

The order for child maintenance will end when the child reaches 21 years old unless the child still needs financial support due to the following reasons:

• Mental or physical disability
• Full-time service in the army
• Full-time instruction at an educational establishment or undergoing job training (applies even if the child is in gainful employment)
• Other conditions that justify the making/upholding of the order

 

Changing the Order of Child Maintenance in Singapore
Once the court mandates the order, changing it won’t be easy. It can only be modified under certain circumstances. The parent may apply for the maintenance amount to be decreased if there are material changes in his current situation that disables him from paying the same amount of maintenance (e.g. if the paying parent goes to jail or falls ill and is unable to earn enough money to support the child).

 

The Court may take into account any change in the general cost of living which may have occurred between the date of the making of the order sought to be changed and the date of the hearing of the application.

 

The parent who pays child maintenance usually forwards the payment to the parent who has custody and care or control of the child. Furthermore, if the Court finds reasons to further enforce the order, it may order the paying parent to secure it by putting any of his or her property in the trustees. Both parties should keep records of financial expenses to keep each other accountable.

What if I do not pay Child Maintenance in Singapore?

If the parent fails to make one or more payments as stated in the order, the Court can do one or all of these things:
• Order the parent to pay a fine of the amount owed for each violation of the order
• Sentence the parent to jail for a term of less than a month for each month’s unpaid allowance (The parent still must pay maintenance even if he or she has been prosecuted and punished for the noncompliance of the Court order)
• Make a Garnishee Order in accordance with the Family Justice Rules made under Section 79. In a Garnishee Order, a bank or third party will be ordered to pay money from the person’s account or funds to pay for the maintenance. Another type of this sort is called an Attachment of Earnings Order, in which the parent’s employer will be ordered to set aside a part of his or her salary to transfer to maintenance
• Order the parent to set up security against any future default in maintenance payments by means of a banker’s guarantee which will be valid for a period of less than 3 years and be for an amount that is not more than 3 months of maintenance payable under the maintenance order
• Order the parent to go to financial counselling
• Order the parent to perform unpaid community service for up to 40 hours under the supervision of a community service officer

How we can help you

Child Maintenance in Singapore is something that should not be taken lightly. At I.R.B. Law LLP we understand that the needs of the child are very important and it needs to balance with the needs of the parent at times.

 

At I.R.B. Law LLP have dealt with numerous of such cases and our team of experienced lawyers very well versed in Maintenance for both the Child and the Spouse, Divorce and other related matters. We will be able to explain to you what your options are at each stage of the process and guide you through it. We take pride in handling your case as best as we can so that you can focus on getting back up on your feet.

 

Your first consultation is typically free, so please don’t hesitate to email us at hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at 6298 4091 to schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers.

 

The information contained in this article is provided for general information only and may not reflect current status in relation to applicable law, cases, settlements or judgements. Nothing contained on this website or article is intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be construed as I.R.B Law LLP agreeing to provide legal services to you. You acknowledge and agree that your use of this website shall not create a lawyer-client relationship with I.R.B Law LLP.