Divorce Alimony In Singapore: 7 Crucial Facts

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Knowledge & Insights

As a country with a sophisticated and robust legal system, Singapore has a structured approach towards dealing with financial matters after a marriage breakdown. Alimony in Singapore referred to locally as ‘maintenance’, is pivotal within the jurisdiction of family law. Enshrined in the Women’s Charter, maintenance is designed to provide financial support to former spouses and children during the challenging divorce transition.

1. Understanding Alimony: Spousal Maintenance In Singapore

Spousal maintenance in Singapore ensures that a spouse does not suffer undue hardship or live in significantly reduced circumstances following a divorce. With careful consideration of both parties’ financial needs, obligations, and responsibilities, the Court arrives at a reasonable maintenance amount.

Importantly, spousal support is not an automatic right. The Court takes into account various factors like the following:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Earning capacity of each spouse.

Special circumstances like a spouse’s physical or mental disability could necessitate increased maintenance, emphasising the Court’s aim for fair and balanced orders.

2. Child Support And Maintenance: Upholding The Welfare Of Children

Child maintenance is another critical aspect of divorce law in Singapore. Children should not be disadvantaged due to their parent’s separation. Hence, the Court ensures adequate financial support, considering factors like the child’s education, overall welfare, and any existing physical or mental disability.

While typically, the non-custodial parent pays child support, this can vary based on circumstances. The primary focus is always on the child’s best interests, ensuring they have access to necessary resources.

3. Women’s Charter: A Backbone Of Family Law In Singapore

The Women’s Charter is a key legislative tool in Singapore, laying out the legal obligation of spouses to provide maintenance. Apart from financial matters, it also covers other significant areas like domestic/family violence, ensuring the safety and security of individuals within a marriage.

4. What Do Maintenance Orders In Singapore Entail?

A maintenance order in Singapore, handed down by the Family Justice Courts, outlines the specifics of the financial support to be provided post-divorce. These orders are not standardised. Instead, they are customised to each case, ensuring the ordered maintenance is reasonable.

Sometimes, the maintenance could be a lump sum, an arrangement that often proves beneficial for both parties. Other times, it could be a regular monthly payment, providing a steady source of income. There can even be nominal maintenance orders in unique situations where the Court recognises future income potential.

5. What Factors Determine Alimony In Singapore?

Understanding the factors determining alimony, or as it’s locally known, maintenance in Singapore, is crucial when navigating a divorce. These factors, detailed in the Women’s Charter, are evaluated by the family justice Courts to ascertain a fair maintenance order.

Income And Financial Resources

The Court will consider each party’s income, property, and other financial resources in the marriage. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • Wages
  • Bonuses
  • Rental income
  • Dividends

For example, if a husband has a high earning capacity, the Court might order him to pay more spousal maintenance.

Financial Needs, Obligations, And Responsibilities

Each party’s financial needs, obligations, and responsibilities are also considered. This involves assessing ongoing expenses, such as mortgages or loans, and future needs, like retirement planning or expenses for children’s education. The Court will aim to ensure that each party can maintain a reasonable standard of living post-divorce

Standard Of Living

The wife’s living standard during the marriage is another crucial consideration. The goal is to ensure that, as much as possible, there isn’t a drastic change in the living conditions of the spouse receiving maintenance, especially if the marriage lasted for a significant duration.

Age And Health Condition

The age of each party and their physical and mental condition are taken into account. A spouse with a physical or mental disability may be entitled to more maintenance, as they might have more difficulty securing employment and meeting their financial needs. Similarly, an older spouse struggling to reenter the job market might receive more consideration.

Contributions To The Family

The Court also recognises non-monetary contributions to the family. If a spouse has given up their career to care for the home or children, this will be considered when determining maintenance. The aim is to acknowledge and compensate, in part, for sacrifices made for the family’s well-being.

Behaviour Of Parties

Certain behaviours, such as adultery or unreasonable conduct, can impact maintenance orders. If a wife is deemed to have conducted herself in a way that caused the marriage to break, her entitlement to maintenance could be impacted. The specifics depend on the individual case and the Court’s judgement.

Court’s Discretion

The family Court in Singapore can increase, reduce, or discharge a maintenance order depending on changes in circumstances. This means the Court can reassess the maintenance order if a party’s financial situation changes dramatically, ensuring the maintenance remains fair and equitable.

Each divorce case is unique, and as mentioned, the factors discussed are not exhaustive. For more guidance, please seek professional advice from our divorce lawyers in Singapore. Let us clarify your legal rights and obligations so that you can plan the next steps accordingly.

6. What Happens If You Don’t Comply With Child And Spousal Maintenance?

If a party fails to pay maintenance as ordered by the Court, the former spouse can file an enforcement application at the family Court. Non-compliance with Court orders is a serious matter, and the Court will take appropriate measures to ensure the order is upheld.

7. Navigating Divorce Proceedings With The Right Guidance

Divorce proceedings/procedures can be daunting, particularly when understanding financial obligations like spousal support or child maintenance. In these circumstances, reliable divorce lawyers in Singapore can help navigate the process, ensuring all parties understand their rights and responsibilities.

From advocating for a fair maintenance amount to helping submit enforcement applications, legal professionals like our family lawyers in The Singapore Family Lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of family law. With our support, we can make intricate matters like determining reasonable needs or understanding life-long dependency due to an incapacitated husband manageable.

Conclusion On Paying Alimony/Maintenance In Singapore

Alimony in Singapore is designed to exact financial fairness and continuity of living standards after a divorce. It’s a complex issue that requires careful understanding and professional advice.

When you’re ready to explore your options, don’t hesitate to contact any of our divorce lawyers.

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation today at The Singapore Family Lawyer. Our team of professionals are experts at divorce law and can provide ample guidance and support throughout a tumultuous time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Alimony In Singapore

How Long Must I Pay Maintenance/Alimony In Singapore?

The duration of maintenance payments varies and is determined by the Court, often until the recipient remarries or either party dies.

Are Men Entitled To Alimony In Singapore?

Yes. Though uncommon, men can be entitled to spousal maintenance in Singapore if they cannot support themselves due to physical or mental disability.

Can I Avoid Paying Alimony In Singapore?

Avoiding payment of ordered maintenance in Singapore is illegal, and enforcement applications can be made if one fails to comply with a maintenance order.

How Are Assets Divided In Singapore?

Matrimonial assets in Singapore are divided based on each party’s contributions to the marriage, which include financial contributions and non-financial contributions like household duties.

How Much Is Child Maintenance In Singapore?

The amount of child maintenance in Singapore is not fixed; the Court determines it based on the child’s financial needs and each parent’s earning capacity.

How Do I Claim Alimony In Singapore?

To claim alimony in Singapore, you must apply to the Court, usually with the assistance of a family lawyer.

Is Alimony Taxable In Singapore?

No, alimony or spousal maintenance received is not taxable in Singapore. Therefore, it is considered a personal receipt and is not taxable under the Income Tax Act.

What Is Nominal Maintenance In Singapore?

Nominal maintenance in Singapore refers to a token sum, often as little as S$1, ordered by the court as maintenance. This amount is not meant to provide substantial financial support. Rather it maintains the right of the recipient to request an increase in maintenance should their circumstances change significantly in the future.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.