In Singapore, according to Section 113 of the Women’s charter, the court may order the husband to pay maintenance to his wife/ex-wife either during granting or subsequent to the grant of a judgement of divorce, judicial separation or nullity of marriage.
There is no need to file for a divorce before applying for maintenance.
The court has the discretion to decide on the quantum of maintenance required to be paid to the wife/ex-wife, taking into account all the facts of the case.
Section 114 of the Charter lists out the factors that the court will consider. These include:
- The salary and earning capacity of each party in the past, present and future
- The financial needs and obligations of each party in the future
- The standard of living of each party before the marriage broke down
- The age of both parties and how long they were married for
- Any direct and indirect contributions made by each party to the household
- Any losses suffered by each party as a result of their marriage
What if the wife/ex-wife earns more than the husband?
However, where the wife/ex-wife is earning more than the husband, the court will take this into consideration and may be reluctant to order the husband to pay maintenance.
How is Spousal Maintenance paid?
The payment of spousal maintenance can be structured in several ways:
Lump Sum Payment
: The court may order a one-time lump sum payment from the paying spouse to the recipient spouse. This provides immediate financial support and is a final settlement of the maintenance obligation.
: Periodic payments are usually monthly or yearly payments that are made from the paying spouse to the recipient spouse for a specified duration. The court will determine the amount and the duration based on various factors, including the needs of the recipient and the paying spouse’s ability to pay.
What if the husband refuses to pay maintenance?
If the maintenance is ordered, but is not paid, the wife/ex-wife may recover the arrears by filling an enforcement application to the Family Court. Please consult a divorce lawyer.
What is the Period of maintenance?
The duration of spousal maintenance in Singapore can vary. There is no fixed or standard duration for spousal maintenance in Singapore. Instead, the court considers various factors when making its determination, including the financial needs of the recipient spouse, the paying spouse’s ability to pay, the length of the marriage, the health and age of the parties, and any other relevant circumstances.
In some cases, spousal maintenance may be ordered for a specific period, until a certain event occurs (e.g., the recipient spouse becomes financially self-sufficient), or it can be indefinite in cases where the recipient spouse is unable to achieve financial independence due to various factors.
The court has the authority to review and adjust spousal maintenance orders if there are significant changes in the parties’ financial circumstances or other relevant factors.
For a more detailed explanation on spousal maintenance, please refer to our Spousal Maintenance in Singapore blog.