A common misconception that many have is that maintenance orders may only be made following divorce proceedings. However, did you know that you may apply for a maintenance order while still in a subsisting marriage?
The table below summarises whom may apply for reasonable maintenance under Section 69 of the Women’s Charter.
|Maintenance for||Applicant||Order sought against|
|Married woman||Married woman||Husband|
|Incapacitated husband||Incapacitated husband||Wife|
|Child||Parent or guardian / child above 21 / any sibling above 21 / any person appointed by the Minister||Parent|
Married women are accorded such protection under the law because, even in our modern society, women are still more financially vulnerable compared to their male counterparts and command lower salaries on average. Today, there are still fewer economically active women in the workforce than men, as a woman is more likely to give up her career or job advancement to care for her family.
In 2016, Parliament extended such protection under the law to incapacitated husbands. While males generally have more earning power than females, males who have been incapacitated by any physical or mental disability or any other illness may face difficulties in maintaining themselves.
How does the court decide whether to grant a maintenance order?
Amongst other factors, the Court will consider the following in determining whether to grant a maintenance order:-
- 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 —
- by the wife before her husband neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for her;
- by the incapacitated husband before his wife neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for him; or
- 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 he was being, and in which the parties to the marriage expected him 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.
How to go about applying for a maintenance order?
You may apply for a maintenance order yourself without a lawyer, and may either do so online or at the Family Justice Courts. The process is simple and easy for a layperson to comprehend.
After making your application, you should begin to get the following documents ready:-
- lists of monthly personal expenses, and lists of such expenses for the children, if relevant;
- salary slips;
- income tax returns;
- documents evidencing any debts;
- receipts for household, personal and children’s expenses; and
- any other documents that may be relevant to the parties’ means.
You would be relying on these documents to prove your case during the trial.
For more details on the process of applying for a maintenance order, you may refer to the following links:-
- “How to Apply for Maintenance” Family Justice Courts website (26 June 2017)
- “Maintenance” Family Justice Courts website (13 July 2017)
Have a question on maintenance orders?
If you have any questions or require legal advice on marriage matters, you can request a quote with Delia Tan. You can also get a Quick Consult with other lawyers. With Quick Consult, from a transparent, flat fee from S$49, a lawyer will call you back on the phone within 1-2 days to answer your questions and give you legal advice.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to a practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.