Default in Maintenance Not the Way to Gain Access to Son

Enforcement of maintenance order in Singapore

A woman filed an enforcement application against her ex-husband for failing to pay for their son’s tuition and enrichment expenses. They were divorced since 2010 but continue to be acrimonious with each other.

Under the 2010 Court order, the former husband needs to pay half of the child’s tuition and enrichment expenses. He argued that he did not pay as he was not consulted prior to the expenses being incurred, and that he cannot be “helplessly” and “blindingly” paying for the expenses. On the other hand, the ex-wife argued that she did not have to consult her ex-husband and that she was only required to produce the receipts. The former wife did not have a lawyer.

District Judge Kathryn Thong of the Family Justice Courts wrote that the judge making the order in 2010 clearly intended for payments to be made upon production of receipts. The Judge further explained that if the ex-wife did not consult her former husband, “his recourse would be to invoke the penal notice, not to withhold payment”. The ex-husband was ordered to pay for 21 receipts produced.

No meaningful contact with son

The boy in question is now 17 years old. According to the former husband, his “last meaningful contact” with his son was 8 years ago.

He was willing to go to Court to resolve the issue on the tuition expenses as he felt that that was the only way to engage his former wife on access to the boy.

Judge Thong said that whether the ex-wife had indeed denied access is not relevant to the application for payment of tuition fees. She added: “there are legal avenues to vary the 2010 order or to deal with the (former wife’s) supposed breaches. Withholding payment is not the solution and is effectively a back-door enforcement against the (former wife) for failing to consult, and would be improper.”

See: K.C.Vijayan, “Refusing to pay ex-wife not the way to see son: Judge”, The Straits Times, 30 December 2016

Enforcement of access order in Singapore

If you face similar issues as the ex-husband in this case, you may wish to commence variation and/ or enforcement proceedings against your former spouse. For instance, you may wish to request for assisted transfer, or even commence committal proceedings against your ex-spouse. If you wish to change the access terms in the original Court order, you may wish to do a variation.

Enforcement of maintenance order in Singapore

On the other hand, if your former spouse defaults on child maintenance in Singapore, you may also wish to commence enforcement proceedings against him/ her. In the event that you are unable to afford the maintenance amount or if your child needs a higher amount of maintenance (due to material change in circumstances), you may wish to vary the maintenance amount.

Contact us to find out more about what you can do if you face problems with:

  1. Access to your child; or
  2. Enforcement of maintenance order in Singapore

You may also be interested to read more about:

1. Divorce and Separation

2. Annulment (Nullity) of Marriage

3. Children’s Issues

4. Matrimonial Assets

5. Maintenance Issues (Alimony)

6. Family Violence

For more information, please contact us here.

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