What is material change in circumstances – for variation of maintenance?
You must have heard this being mentioned by your lawyers or perhaps you read up or heard from friends who were divorced too.
- Do you know how this will affect you when an order for maintenance is made by way of consent between parties or as ordered by the Court?
- Do you know at which point in time you can apply to the court for variation of the maintenance?
- Do you know what the court will take into consideration before making a variation either upwards or downwards?
Generally, an order on maintenance when made, still in force until the period is up or until an event specified in the order of the court is up, or when the children are 21 yrs old or financial independence, or remarriage of the wife, or death of the wife or husband.
The point in time when one can apply for a variation of maintenance is when there is a material change in circumstances.
This is not just a change but emphasis is on that being a material change. Thus a severe medical condition, a significant increase or decrease in salary, or accumulation of newfound wealth, are deemed a material change in circumstances.
In a recent case of Kishore Shewaram Mohinani v Padmabai d/o Ramchand Ladharam  SGHC 223, a High Court decision, Justice Choo Han Teck took into consideration that the wife’s recent inheritance of estate valued at an estimated $1.8 million, did not justify the husband calling for a rescission of the maintenance order, but the inheritance was viewed as a material change in the circumstances calling for a downward variation of the maintenance order.
This is because the inheritance enhances to a not insubstantial extent her ability to meet her expenses, and correspondingly warrants modifying in the husband’s favour his obligation to enable her to meet her expenses.