Friday, 19 September 2014

Spousal Maintenance
Factors taken into consideration for maintenance of former wife

In Singapore, according to Section 114(1) of the Women’s Charter, the court will take into account all the circumstances of the case in assessing the maintenance due to a former wife from her husband.

Needs of the former wife

The starting point in the calculation of maintenance is the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of the former wife as these have been affected by the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of marriage. However, the former wife must be reasonable in estimating her needs after the divorce. The court also expects the former wife to strive for self-sufficiency whether or not she had worked during marriage. Where appropriate, the court may even draw adverse inference of the former wife being able to secure employment and estimate how much this might be. Furthermore, where the former wife has been awarded a proportion of the matrimonial assets, this may generally reduce her financial needs in the assessment of her claim for maintenance.

Husband’s ability

The court will take into account the husband’s capability of meeting the needs of the former wife. Thus the court usually considers the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties has or likely to have in the foreseeable future. Where the husband is incapable in meeting the needs of the former wife, the court will order a smaller sum.

Likelihood of remarriage

The effect of this is that the court will most likely not choose to order maintenance in a lump sum as it would be unfair to the husband to have paid maintenance covering the period his former wife had remarried.

Agreement in full and final settlement must be approved by court

According to Section 116, it states that if the agreement purports to be in settlement of all future claims to maintenance, it will not be effective until it is approved by the court with or without conditions attached. But if it is approved, the agreement can provide a good defence to any claim for maintenance.

Courts may vary terms of agreement

According to Section 119, courts may vary the terms of agreement if there is any marital change in the circumstances.

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