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 yourself 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 can’t 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 the 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
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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 of 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 disable 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.

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At Lions Chambers LLC, we pride ourselves on being responsive. We understand that some problems need immediate attention, let us assist you.

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 non-compliance 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 three years and be for an amount that is not more than three 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 Lions Chambers LLC, we understand that the needs of the child are very important, and it needs to balance with the needs of the parent at times.

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Lions Chambers LLC is an established law firm in Singapore. Our team of lawyers specialise in various areas of law and will be able to assist you. Our consultations are free. Please call +65 8777 3677 or click to WhatsApp us today.