One of the common questions that arise during divorce surrounds Women’s Charter Singapore alimony.
Many of my female clients have asked me about the prospect of them receiving alimony from their husband.
In a 2014 High Court Case, Justice Choo Han Teck said that a woman who is “truly independent” and “equal in a marriage” would not need maintenance. Maintenance is not an “unalloyed right” of a woman. The High Court Judge went as far as to suggest that a wider Marriage Charter might one day replace the Women’s Charter.
The Judge noted that the idea of maintenance (alimony) came about from the 1961 Women’s Charter to protect the many women who were housewives supported financially by their husbands.
To the Judge, even awarding a nominal maintenance of $1 is wrong if it is merely symbolic.
In the 2014 case, the husband was a senior prison officer and the wife was a regional sales manager of a MNC earning about $215,900 annually- more than her husband. During the marriage, the couple kept their income separate and the woman was financially independent. In fact, she owned more assets than him.
Justice Choo noted that if the woman had not depended on her husband during the marriage and will not rely on future maintenance monies, there should be no maintenance.
The woman had devoted herself to her husband and child while working full-time. This was taken into account in the division of matrimonial assets.
See: K.C. Vijayan, “Maintenance not an unalloyed right of women: Judge”, The Straits Times, 22 April 2014
From the case, it is clear that not every woman will be entitled to Women’s Charter Singapore alimony, particularly if the woman is financially independent.
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