An order for child maintenance is normally made as part of the final orders in ancillary matters in divorce proceedings.
However, the Court may also make an order on child maintenance in cases where (1) the parents are not married or (2) divorce proceedings have not been concluded.
See: Sections 68 to 70 and 127 of Women’s Charter (Singapore)
Who may apply on behalf of a child?
The responsibility of maintaining a child lies with both parents, regardless of who has care and control of the child and whether the child is legitimate or illegitimate. Normally, the Court will order the maintenance to be paid to the parent with care and control of the child.
If a parent has not maintained his/ her child, or is refusing to do so, an application for maintenance of a child may be made by the following:
1. The guardian of the child or the person who has actual custody of the child.
2. The child, if he/ she has reached the age of 21.
3. Any of the child’s siblings who has reached the age of 21, if the child is below 21.
Do I need to maintain my child if he/ she is above 21?
Generally, an order for child maintenance ceases to be in force on the day the child turns 21 years old, unless the order states that the child shall continue to be maintained for a period after that day.
The Court may in the following circumstances make an order for child maintenance for a child who has reached the age of 21 years if the maintenance is necessary because:
1. The child suffers from mental/ physical disability.
2. The child is/ will be serving full-time national service (NS).
3. The child is/ will still be studying or training for a trade, profession or vocation.
Amount of maintenance to be paid
In assessing the amount of maintenance to be paid, the Court will take into account all the circumstances of the case, including the following factors:
1. Financial needs of the child.
2. Income, earning capacity (if any), property and other financial resources of the child.
3. Physical or mental disability of the child (if any).
4. Standard of living enjoyed by the child before the parent neglected or refused to maintain him/ her.
5. The manner a child was being educated/ trained and the manner in which the parties expected him/ her to be educated/ trained.
6. Financial means of the parent.
Variation or rescission of maintenance order
Should there be a material change in circumstances, or if there is other good cause, the Court may, on the application of either the party receiving the maintenance or the party paying the maintenance, vary or rescind the maintenance order.
Your divorce/ family lawyer can assist by:
1. Advising you on the strength of your case (if you wish to make an application for child maintenance or defending you against an application for child maintenance).
2. Representing you in all proceedings relating to child maintenance, including enforcement and variation proceedings.
3. Drafting and filing the documents required by the Court.
4. Representing you in negotiations with the other party, mediation sessions and in Court.
You may also be interested to read more about:
2. Annulment (Nullity) of Marriage
5. Maintenance Issues (Alimony)