In Singapore, parents are legally obligated to provide financial support for their biological children until the age of 21. However, under valid circumstances, children above 21 years of age are still entitled to child maintenance. The Court can extend such an order if the child has decided to his or her tertiary education or when the son has to serve National Service (NS).
The District Judge normally arrives at a final settlement order on the child’s maintenance after taking into consideration a child’s financial, education, and daily living expenses.
Once the judgement is made, the court’s maintenance orders may be reviewed under defined circumstances- for example, if there is a drastic downturn in the health thus affecting the earning ability of the parent paying to the child maintenance.
Who is liable to contribute to child maintenance?
Under the law in Singapore, it is the legal responsibility of a parent to provide or ensure to the financial maintenance for his/her children, regardless of the legitimacy of the child.
In the unfortunate situation if the Court finds a parent has refused or defaulted to contribute maintenance within reason for a child who is unable to support himself financially, a District Judge may order the parent pay a payment every month or demand a one-time financial maintenance in a lump sum for the child.
On the other hand, it is good to note that a non-parent may also take on the responsibility for the maintenance of a child if the non-parent accepts the child with dependency as a member of his/her family. However, the self-inflicted responsibility by the non-parent shall discontinue if either of the child’s biological parent takes him/her away. All monies spent by the non-parent on the financial, education and living expenses of the child will henceforth regarded as a debt and is recoverable from the biological parent.
Who can apply for child maintenance?
Application may be made by anyone from the following:
- The child’s guardian
- The person who has custody of the child
- A child who has reached 21 year of age
- Any sibling of a child who is not of legal age. The sibling who wishes to apply on behalf of the child must be older than 21.
Who can benefit from child maintenance?
Normally, a child below the age of 21 will be entitled for child support from his/her parents. The Court order is no longer deemed effective on the day the minor turns 21. This would not be the case only in the event the maintenance order clearly states otherwise.
There are exceptional cases where a dependent child older than 21 years of age may also qualify for child maintenance under any of the possible circumstances:
- The child is mentally or physically disabled
- The child is serving full-time national service (NSmen)
- The child is undergoing vocational training or tertiary education
When working out with your spouse for the custody of your child/children, you should consider child maintenance when drafting the ancillary matters in your divorce proceedings. The litigation process may be tedious for the parents and traumatic for the children involved as disagreements and tussles are inevitable during such divorce proceedings. By engaging the services of a qualified family law experts listed in SgDivorceHelp.com, you can minimise the distress you and your children will need to suffer.
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