Ms Annie Seah volunteers as a mediator at the Family Justice Courts and she helps out at the Maintenance Mediation Chambers. She received the “Outstanding Court Volunteer Award” from the Chief Justice at the Tri-Court Appreciation Dinner on 2 November 2016.
At the award ceremony, Seah recounted a case where an elderly divorced couple were at the Family Courts to terminate their maintenance order. The gentlemen turned to his ex-wife as they were leaving and said: “We could not undo the past but am glad it’s all behind us.” At that point, Seah realised many relationships suffered as a result of financial issues.
See: Ronald Loh, “Marriage Counsellor: ‘Money Issues Fracture Relationships’”, The New Paper, 10 November 2016
From my experience as a family lawyer, there are many reasons which may cause a relationship to sour. I have seen many couples split as a result of financial woes. In a memorable case I handled earlier this year, the husband had informed the wife that he would inherit a huge sum of money from his deceased father. Based on his claims, the couple purchased a private property. When the husband’s “inheritance” did not materialise, the wife was left to shoulder the burden of repaying the huge mortgage loan. This led to numerous quarrels and the wife eventually filed for divorce.
I encourage all of my clients to plan and manage their finances carefully so as to avoid financial disputes with their spouses in the future. There are many ways to do so. For instance, they can choose to enter into pre-nuptial agreements or marital agreements/ post-nuptial agreements with their spouses.
For wives who wish to seek maintenance from their husbands, they are able to make an application for a maintenance order at the Family Justice Courts. A summons will be issued to the husband and a court counsellor like Seah will mediate the dispute. Should a settlement be reached after mediation, a Court order can be recorded. Otherwise, the matter will be dealt with by the Court.
The Court will consider factors listed under Section 69 of the Women’s Charter (Singapore) before making a decision. The factors include the financial needs of the wife and the income/ earning capacity of the parties.
See: Section 69 of Women’s Charter (Singapore)
See: Sections 68 to 70 and 127 of Women’s Charter (Singapore)
As a divorce lawyer, I have witnessed many relationships broke down as a result of money issues. The acrimony will only increase if the matter proceeds to Court.
Mediation is a good way to resolve disputes in a timely and less hurtful manner. I encourage all my clients to seek resolution at the mediation chambers.
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