All You Need To Know About Maintenance Of Children In Singapore

All You Need To Know About Maintenance Of Children In Singapore

What Is Child Maintenance?

Under Singapore law, aside from the custody, care and control, and access of the children to the marriage, the maintenance of children is the duty of the parents (Section 68 of the Women’s Charter). Maintaining your child is a legal responsibility that both parents will have to abide by.

The law states that a child / children have to be maintained:

  • Whether they are in a parent’s custody or the custody of the other parent
  • Whether they are legitimate or illegitimate children
  • Whether the parents are divorced or not
  • Whether the child is living with only one parent

Upon the dissolution of the marriage, you are therefore legally required to contribute to the maintenance of your child. If you are a parent without custody as well as care and control of your children, you will usually be required to give maintenance for your children to the parent who has custody as well as care and control. If there is failure to maintain your child, an application can be made to the Singapore courts, resulting in a court order for child maintenance.

Why Does The Child Need Maintenance?

A child does not have the ability to work, or to be financially independent. Therefore, parents’ maintenance for the child / children is needed for the provision of food, clothing, accommodation, education, and other essentials until they are officially of age / capacity to be able to do so.

How Long Will I Have To Maintain The Child?

In some cases, there may be extended obligations for parents to maintain their children for a longer period of time, such as when the child is schooling or serving his national service. Typically, maintenance is required until the child is no longer a minor – up to 21 years old.

How Does The Court Decide How Much The Maintenance Will Be?

Under Section 69(4) of the Women’s Charter, the court is directed to look at and consider the following factors:

  • The financial needs of the wife or child;
  • The income, earning capacity (if any), property and other financial resources of the wife or child;
  • Any physical or mental disability of the wife or child;
  • The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
  • The contributions made by each of the parties to the marriage to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family;
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the wife or child before the husband or parent, as the case may be, neglected or refused to provide reasonable maintenance for the wife or child;
  • In the case of a child, the manner in which he was being, and in which the parties to the marriage expected him to be, educated or trained; and
  • The conduct of each of the parties to the marriage, if the conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it.

Who Can Make The Application For The Child?

(a) Any person who is a guardian or has the actual custody of the child;

(b) Where the child has attained the age of 21 years, by the child himself;

(c) Where the child is below the age of 21 years, any of his siblings who has attained the age of 21 years; or

(d) Any person appointed by the Minister.

The Application Process For Maintenance In Singapore

Generally, maintenance orders for children are part of the ancillary matters considered during a divorce. However, it is also possible to make separate applications specifically for maintenance for children, interim or otherwise.

What Happens During The Application?

  • If you are applying for maintenance on behalf of your child, you will be known as the ‘Complainant’ in the application. The person you are filing against would be the ‘Respondent’.
  • After you have completed and submitted the application, you will need to affirm your complaint before a Magistrate or a District Judge.
  • A letter will be sent to the Respondent for acceptance of the summons at a stipulated date and time.
  • At this session, there will be mediation provided for the parties to help couples come to a settlement agreement.
  • If a settlement is made, the Complainant and Respondent will appear before the Magistrate or District Judge to have the settlement recorded as a court order.
  • If there is no settlement made, the Complainant and Respondent will be asked to attend a court hearing for a mention at a stipulated date and time.
  • At the Court mention, the judge would make orders and fix the date for trial.

What Happens If You Go To Trial?

At trial,

  • The Complainant gives his or her documents to the court, and takes the witness stand to give sworn or affirmed evidence. 

  • The Respondent may cross-examine the Complainant on what he or she has said. 

  • The Respondent gives his or her documents to the court, and takes the witness stand to give sworn or affirmed evidence.
  • The Complainant may cross-examine the Respondent on what he or she has said.

  • If either party is represented, their lawyers will conduct the trial. At the end of the hearing, the lawyers will present arguments on behalf of their respective clients. 

  • The magistrate or district judge would then make the necessary orders. This marks the conclusion of the case.

If you want to appeal the order, you may do so by filing a Notice of Appeal to the High Court within 14 days from the order.


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Filed under: Divorce
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