Getting Divorced: Who pays for / maintains the children?

Getting Divorced: Who pays for / maintains the children?

  1. What financial claims are available to parents on behalf of children within or outside of marriage?
  2. How is child maintenance calculated and is it administered by the court or an agency?
  3. Biological and Adoptive Parents
  4. Parent of Child Accepted by a Party as a Member of the Family During the Parties’ Marriage
  5. For how long is a parent required to pay child maintenance or provide financial support for their children? For example, can a child seek maintenance during university?
  6. Can capital or property orders be made to or for the benefit of a child?
  7. Can a child make a financial claim directly against their parents?

 

 

1. What financial claims are available to parents on behalf of children within or outside of marriage?

Parents may seek maintenance for their children within and outside of the marriage. See question 2 below.

 

2. How is child maintenance calculated and is it administered by the court or an agency?

The court can order a parent to pay maintenance for the benefit of a child of the marriage who is under the age of 21.

 

 

3. Biological and Adoptive Parents

Both parents are under a duty to maintain or contribute to the maintenance of their biological or adoptive child (s 68, Women’s Charter; s 7(1) of the Adoption of Children Act). The court may order a parent to make a monthly allowance or a lump sum for the maintenance of his child up until he attains 21 years of age (s 69(2), Women’s Charter). The court may also do so during matrimonial proceedings (s 127, Women’s Charter). A maintenance order may also be ordered for the benefit of a child beyond the age of 21 years if the child:

(a) has a physical or mental disability;

(b) is or will be serving full-time national service;

(c) is or will be studying or undergoing training for a trade, profession or vocation whether or not under gainful employment; or

(d) has special circumstances justifying the making of the order (s 69(5), Women’s Charter).

 

When ordering child maintenance, the court must have regard to all the circumstances of the case, including (s 69(4), Women’s Charter):

  • the financial needs of the child;
  • the income, earning capacity (if any), property and financial resources of the parents;
  • any disability of the child;
  • the age of the parents and duration of the parents’ marriage; and
  • the standard of living enjoyed by the child before the parent ceased providing reasonable maintenance for the child, including how the parties expected him to be, educated or trained.

The authorities are presently exploring the viability of establishing a formula-based child maintenance table to facilitate the calculation of child maintenance.

 

4. Parent of Child Accepted by a Party as a Member of the Family During the Parties’ Marriage

A child who has been accepted by a person to be a member of his family shall be maintained by that person whilst the child is under 21 years of age so far as the child’s parents fail to do so (s 70(1), Women’s Charter). A maintenance order may also be ordered for the benefit of a child beyond the age of 21 years if any of the factors in s 69(5) discussed above apply (s 70(5), Women’s Charter). Any sums expended by that person shall be recoverable as a debt from the child’s father or mother (s 70(3), Women’s Charter). The obligation ceases if the child is taken away by his father or mother (s 70(2), Women’s Charter). The factors in s 69(4) discussed above also apply (s 70(5), Women’s Charter). There is no agency administering maintenance claims in Singapore, and maintenance orders have to be enforced through court proceedings.

 

5. For how long is a parent required to pay child maintenance or provide financial support for their children? For example, can a child seek maintenance during university?

A maintenance order may also be ordered for the benefit of a child above the age of 21 years in certain circumstances, typically until

the completion of university education. It has been held that if a child is genuinely pursuing a course of study in order to better prepare himself for the working world, as long as it is reasonable for the child to pursue that course and the parents can afford it, the court may order the parents to maintain the child either fully or partially while still studying (Wong Ser Wan v Ng Cheong Ling [2006] 1 SLR(R) 416). Please see question 2 above.

 

6. Can capital or property orders be made to or for the benefit of a child?

The court may, if it considers it just, order the person liable to pay the maintenance to secure the whole or part of it by vesting any property belonging to the person in trustees upon trust to pay the maintenance or a part of it out of the income from the property for the settlor (s 69(5), Women’s Charter; s 70(5), Women’s Charter).

 

7. Can a child make a financial claim directly against their parents?

Yes, he may do so against his parents or the person who has accepted him as a member of his family if he has attained 21 years of age (ss 69(3)(b), 70(4)(b), Women’s Charter). If the child is a minor, his siblings who have attained 21 years of age (ss 69(3)(c), 70(4)(c), Women’s Charter) or his guardian or a person having actual custody of him (ss 69(3)(a), 70(4)(a), Women’s Charter) may do so instead.