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Pro Bono: Maintenance

Maintenance: Introduction

This library guide collates relevant resources relating to maintenance of children, aged parents and spouses from various government sites and online sources.

Overview

Maintenance is a form of financial support. The Women's Charter (Cap 353, 2009 Rev Ed) provides the legal basis for maintenance of children and (former) spouses under Part VIII. The laws of maintenance of wife and child (but not of incapacitated husbands) applies to all persons in Singapore, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

The Maintenance of Parents Act (Cap 167B, 1996 Rev Ed) provides the legal basis for the maintenance of aged dependent parents, and also applies to all persons in Singapore. It establishes the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents as a statutory judicial organ, and is administered by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

  • Child Maintenance: Laws on the liability of parents and selected non-parents to maintain a dependent child.
  • Spousal Maintenance: Liability of the husband to maintain his wife and wife to maintain her incapacitated husband during subsistence of marriage, and of former spouses after termination of their marriage.
  • Parental Maintenance: Liability of an able grown child to maintain their aged parent.

The duty to maintain the child may be found under s 68 of the Women's Charter, while that of the spouse during marriage under ss 69(1) & 69(1A) and of former spouses under s 113(1).

S 3 of the Maintenance of Parents Act defines the parent who may make an application for maintenance.

Enforcement of these maintenance orders are dealt with primarily under Part IX of the Women's Charter. Variation of a maintenance order made ancillary to an application for a judgment of divorce is provided for under s 118.

(Source: Leong Wai Kum, Elements of Family Law, 3rd Ed (2018))

Resources for Maintenance

A. Maintenance of Child / Spouse / Former Spouse

Family Justice Courts - Maintenance
Applications for maintenance are made in person at the Family Justice Courts of Singapore. The FJC addresses some of the commonly asked questions on proceedings involving maintenance. See in particular:

Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO) - Maintenance Support Central
Information on the services provided by SCWO's Maintenance Support Central (MSC), a multi-service drop-in centre that provides support and assistance for clients who have difficulty in receiving spousal and/or child maintenance.

Muslim Divorce and Maintenance Materials
Maintenance in the context of Muslim families may include nafkah iddah (maintenance given by the Husband to the Wife during the iddah period) or mutaah (a consolatory gift paid by the Husband to the Wife upon divorce).

B. Maintenance of Aged Parents

Ministry of Social and Family Development - Office of the Commissioner for the Maintenance of Parents / Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents

The Office of the Commissioner and the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents are statutory judicial bodies administered by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Parents must strive for conciliation at the Commissioner's Office first before filing a claim to the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents. The Commissioner aims to help parents and children reach an agreement on the amount each is prepared to pay and accept without having to seek legal action. The Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents allows parents to file for a Maintenance Order against their children who are not supporting them financially, if conciliation does not work out. The Tribunal serves as the court that will grant or dismiss the parent’s claim.

 

1. Family Justice Courts (FJC)
The Family Justice Courts (FJC) are established pursuant to the Family Justice Act in 2014 and restructured the family justice system by bringing together all family-related work under a specialised body of courts.
Add: Family Registry, Level 1, Family Justice Courts @ Havelock, No. 3 Havelock Square. Singapore 059725
Maintenance Mediation Chambers (MMC) are located on Level 2.

Contact: Write To Us
Tel: (65) 6435 5471 (Family Registry - Maintenance Applications)

2. iFAMS (Integrated Family Application Management System) 
The new online system, iFAMS, provides an alternative to the applicant seeking a maintenance order of having to personally make a complaint. Once the application is made it may still be directed to follow the process provided under statute.
W: iFAMS - Maintenance Order Application; iFAMS FAQ
Contact: ifamshelpdesk@ecquaria.com (Technical Support)
Tel: (65) 6435 5471

3. Free Legal Advice or Legal Assistance on Enforcement of Maintenance

a. Legal Aid Bureau
The Legal Aid Bureau advances access to justice for applicants with limited means, including providing legal representation and advice, as set out in the Legal Aid and Advice Act.
Add: Ministry of Law Services Centre, 45 Maxwell Road, #07-11 The URA Centre (East Wing), Singapore 069118
Contact: Contact Us@OneMinLaw
Tel: 1800 2255 529 (1800-CALL-LAW)

b. Community Justice Centre
The Community Justice Centre (CJC) is a community partnership between the public sector, the philanthropic sector, and the legal profession rendering assistance to Litigants-in-Person (LiPs) in need. It administers the On-site Legal Advice Scheme which provides immediate basic legal advice and directions to LiPs. Limited 20 minute slots are available daily on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. No appointment is required and is subjected to the availability of slots. 
Add: CJC Help Centre, Basement 1 of the State Courts Towers, 1 Havelock Square, Singapore 059724
Contact: help@cjc.org.sg
Tel: (65) 6557 4100

c. Community Legal Clinic
The Law Society's Community Legal Clinics allow one to see a lawyer on a one-to-one basis for 20 minutes and have free legal advice. Registration is required before an appointment is made, via phone, email or walk-in appointment at the CJC (see above).
Add: One of the 4 assigned Community Legal Clinics upon registration
Contact: enquiry@lawsocprobono.org
Tel: (65) 6536 0650

4. Agencies that Assist with Draft Applications for Enforcement of Maintenance Orders

Application for a maintenance order or an application to enforce an existing maintenance order Application to enforce an existing maintenance order that is related to divorce proceedings only

Singapore Council for Women Organisations
Add: Maintenance Support Central, 96 Waterloo Street, Singapore 187967
Contact: mscentral@scwo.org.sg
Tel: (65) 6571 0185

Opening hours (for application only): Mon-Thu: 9am-11am, 2pm-4pm

HELP Family Service Centre
Add: Blk 570, Ang Mo Kio Ave , #01-3317, Singapore 560570
Tel: (65) 6457 5188
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
  PPIS AS-Salaam Family Support Centre
Add: Blk 41, Chai Chee Street, #01-16, Singapore 461041
Contact: as-salaam@ppis.sg
Tel: (65) 6745 5862

Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm

5. Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents
The Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents was established in 1996 under the Maintenance of Parents Act to hear and determine all applications for maintenance made under the Act. It is an independent judicial entity under the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Add: Family Link @ Lengkok Bahru, 8 Lengkok Bahru #02-01, 159052
Contact: Office of the Commissioner for the Maintenance of Parents | Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents
Tel: Office of the Commissioner - 1800 222 0000 or (65) 6471 6313 | Tribunal - 1800 258 5128 or (65) 6476 3285

Refer to the following statutes and related subsidiary legislation on Singapore Statutes Online:

Key Legislation

Practice Directions and Circulars

Please refer to the Family Justice Courts Legislation help page for a list of Rules, Practice Directions, Circulars and amendments

Related image

Law & practice of family law in Singapore

Thean, Valerie. Singapore : Sweet & Maxwell/Thomson Reuters, 2016. (e-book)

Elements of family law in Singapore

Leong, Wai Kum. Singapore : LexisNexis, 2018.

Image result for international issues in family law in singapore

International issues in family law in Singapore 

Ong, Debbie Siew Ling, author. Singapore : Academy Publishing, 2015.

Image result for singapore women's charter 50 questions

Singapore women's charter 50 questions 

Leong, Wai Kum. Singapore : Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011. (e-book)

 

Family law in Singapore 

Randolph KhooDrew & Napier LLC (online publication)

Image result for navigating muslim law in singapore

Navigating Muslim law in Singapore 

Singapore : Syariah Law Forum Organising Committee, National University of Singapore, 2017.

Image result for know the law now

Know the Law Now 

Created by the Law Society Pro-Bono Services

Chapter III contains information on maintenance and Muslim divorce.

 

Legal Clinic Manual : Family Law

Published by the Law Society of Singapore, this book contains detailed guidance to volunteer lawyers.

The family law section contains information on maintenance proceedings.

If a password is required for access, NUS Law students may request it from the Centre for Pro Bono & Clinical Legal Education (probono@nus.edu.sg). 

The Family Registry at the Family Justice Courts will lead the applicant through the process, including any documentation required. The following documents should be brought along for the application:

  • Your identity card;
  • Copy of your marriage certificate;
  • Copy of the birth certificate (s) of the child or children; and
  • Copy of the Order of Court (e.g. custody order) that has been made which is relevant to the application.

According to the Paragraph 25 of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions, the following documents are usually required for a maintenance application:

  • Lists of monthly personal expenses, and lists of such expenses for the children, if relevant;
  • Salary slips;
  • Income tax returns;
  • Documents evidencing any debts;
  • Receipts for household, personal and children's expenses; and
  • Any other documents that may be relevant to the parties' means.