Sharing Child-Related Costs Post Divorce

sharing child maintenance cost

As a parent, one of your key responsibilities is financially supporting your child. This responsibility is statutorily enshrined in Section 68 of the Women’s Charter.

It is worth noting that in Singapore, children are generally eligible for maintenance till the age of 21 or until the completion of their first university degree. Further, both birth and adopted children are entitled to maintenance regardless of whether they live with their parents.

It is important to note that a parent’s legal responsibility to maintain their child exists regardless of whether they are still married or divorced. This means you must calculate and contribute towards your child’s maintenance costs in the event of a divorce.

As Parties in the divorce proceedings, the parents will be at liberty to decide how to apportion their child’s monthly expenses between themselves. In some cases, the parents may even come to an agreement that the child will be solely provided for by only one parent. If the parents cannot agree, the Singapore Courts will decide for them.

Calculating your child’s maintenance costs

The first step to handling child-related expenses as part of the divorce proceedings is to make a list of all the shared (e.g. rent) and personal (e.g. food) expenses related to raising your child. Apart from the family’s standard of living, these expenses can vary based on the age and needs of the child.

For a school-going child, further expenses can include:

  • School fees
  • Healthcare, including dental/medical
  • Tutoring fees
  • Personal grooming
  • Pocket allowance
  • Sport team dues
  • Entertainment/toys/gadgets
  • Transportation
  • Phone bills
  • Contact lenses/spectacles
  • Supplements
  • Holidays

For infants, you will need to factor in the costs of:

  • Formula milk
  • Diapers
  • Crib
  • Stroller
  • Toys
  • Clothes
  • Milk bottles and so on.

This exercise is crucial for preparing yourself to apportion for the expenses that lie ahead and seek an accurate monthly contribution from your spouse.

Ideally, when you decide to divorce or become aware of your spouse’s intention to divorce you, you should start recording the monthly expenses of raising your child. Save all the documents and receipts that help you prove the monthly expenses related to your child.

To give you a rough idea, the yearly expenses for an infant come up to $13,620 a year. The expenses for older children between 7 and 18 can add up to $11,000 a year.

For university-going children, local university fees can cost up to $37,850, while professional courses such as a medical degree can cost $211,500.

Read more: How is Child Maintenance Calculated?

Special needs

The maintenance costs will likely be higher if the child has special health needs or a mental/physical disability. A recommended way of gaining clarity on your child’s medical expenses is to categorise the expenses into:

  • General Medical Expenses – These are not recurring expenses and only arise when your child needs to visit the GP for an occasional health issue such as viral fever.
  • Specialised Medical Expenses – These are more predictable and are recurring expenses for caring for your child’s unique healthcare needs.

It should be noted that the child has a permanent mental or physical disability; the Court may order for the parent(s) to financially maintain their child for an extended period.

Agreeing on handling child-related costs

Even after you have calculated your child’s monthly expenses, it may be that your spouse has arrived at a different figure. In such an instance, Parties will then have to work out and agree on what would be an accurate estimate of your child’s monthly financial needs.

Once Parties have agreed on the child’s monthly expenses, they can begin negotiating the proportion they shall bear. If Parties cannot agree, they may choose to attend mediation to resolve this issue. This method is preferable to fighting out the matter in Court as the child’s legal fees would be better utilised.

If the issue of child maintenance is litigated, the Court will consider all the circumstances of the case. This would, amongst other factors, include:

  • Each parent’s respective income
  • The earning capacity of both parents
  • Any mental or physical disability of the child and the treatment required
  • The child’s financial needs
  • The standard of living the child is accustomed to

Handling child-related costs during divorce can be tricky. Engaging a Singapore family lawyer adept in child maintenance issues early on in the process is crucial and dramatically assists Parties in effectively agreeing on child-related costs.

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