Are you living in Singapore and facing, or have recently faced, a divorce? If so, you may be having trouble understanding the implications of spousal maintenance in Singapore? The team from Consilium Law Corporation answers common queries on the topic.
Why did the Family Court order me to pay my ex-wife $1 in maintenance every month rather than just not making a court order at all?
The principle behind awarding $1 or nominal maintenance for a wife is to preserve the right of the wife to apply for substantive maintenance if the need for her to do so arises in the future. However, as the Singapore Court of Appeal has stated, nominal maintenance is not something that is ordered “automatically or as a matter of course”. The Court would carefully consider all the facts and circumstances of the case before deciding whether or not to preserve a wife’s right.
The consequences in not awarding any maintenance are significant. If a Court rejects an application for spousal maintenance, a wife will not be allowed to apply for maintenance in future, even if she requires it.
My husband has served divorce papers on me, and he’s seeking maintenance for himself from me. Can he do so?
Previously, only women could apply for maintenance from their former spouse. However, following changes made to the Women’s Charter in 2016, a husband, or former husband, is now entitled to seek maintenance if, during the marriage, he was or became incapacitated by any physical or mental disability or illness, resulting in his inability to earn a livelihood and maintain himself.
What can I do if I have an order for maintenance against my ex-husband, but he still refuses to pay?
You can take steps to enforce the order. Orders made by the Court for enforcement may include:
- An attachment of earnings order, directing his employer to make deductions from his salary in order to make payment of maintenance owed.
- Garnishee orders against debts owed to him from third parties.
- Fine or imprisonment.
For more helpful tips, head to our Living in Singapore section!