One of the elements that are involved in divorce procedures may be to obtain child maintenance or child support from your spouse. In this article, we will go through some of the details involving this aspect of divorce proceedings.
Regulations Governing Child Maintenance
Child maintenance is an obligation that bounds parents to pay for child support, which also includes children born outside marriage, adopted children and even grown-up adult children under specific circumstances. The court can order payment of child maintenance in the form of a monthly allowance, or a lump sum.
Children are also eligible for maintenance until they reach the age of 21, regardless of whether they are living in the same residence as their parents or not. Similarly, both birth children and adopted children have the same rights for such support. This also applies to children who are born outside of marriage with proof of the biological relationship between the birth parents and the children. This duty still exists even if either spouse has remarried.
However, there are also special cases whereby children can receive maintenance even after they have reached the age of 21. These cases include:
- Physical and mental disability
- The serving of full-time national service
- Undergoing education or training for a trade, profession or vocation
What Factors Are Considered by The Court in Granting Child Maintenance?
Basically, the court considers the factors that are spelled out in section 69(4) of the Women’s Charter in its decision to grant child maintenance. These include:
- The duration of the marriage
- Both the ages of yourself and your spouse
- Your child’s financial needs
- Any existing physical or mental disability of the child
- Availability of financial resources such as income, property and earning capacity (yourself, spouse and child)
- Contributions made by yourself and your spouse to the family’s welfare
- The income, earning capacity (if any), property and other financial resources of yourself, your spouse and your child
- Standard of living enjoyed by the family before the divorce
- Value or benefit that would be unobtainable for any of the spouses after the dissolution of marriage.
- The manner in which your child was being, and which both yourself and your spouse expected your child to be, educated or trained.
- Any conduct of yourself and your spouse that would be inequitable for the court to disregard.
Enforcement Measures Governing Child Maintenance
If your spouse fails to comply with the terms of the maintenance order, you can apply to the Family Justice Courts for the maintenance arrears to be enforced against your spouse. In addition, the recipient of maintenance can make a Garnishee Order or an Attachment of Earnings Order (AEO), which obliges a bank or an employer to deduct a portion of funds or salary and make transfers for maintenance.
Other enforcement measures against the defaulting spouse also include imprisonment for a defaulted monthly payment of maintenance and ordering the defaulting parent to set up security against any future delay
In any case, it is still advisable to consult an experienced family lawyer to make certain that the application process is adequately followed in the shortest possible time and ensure that all obligations are met whether you are the recipient spouse, child guardian looking for reasonable maintenance or a paying ex-husband.