Maintenance of Spouse in a Singapore Divorce

Last updated on September 6, 2018

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How is maintenance upon divorce awarded in Singapore? If the wife earns more than the husband, can she still ask for maintenance? In what circumstances does the wife have to provide maintenance for her husband/ex-husband, if any?

Maintenance of the Wife

Section 113 of the Women’s Charter empowers the court to order a man to pay maintenance to his wife or former wife, either during matrimonial proceedings, or after a divorce, judicial separation, or nullity of marriage has been finalised.

The fact that the wife is drawing a large salary (evincing financial self-sufficiency) may influence the Judge, who may be reluctant to award a high quantum, if any, in maintenance fees to the wife. Also, the division of matrimonial assets, especially in circumstances where substantial assets are awarded to the wife, may justify a smaller maintenance for the wife. Maintenance may be paid either in a lump sum or in periodic payments.

Maintenance of the Husband

For a long time now, the law in Singapore was such that the husband was the only party required to provide maintenance for his ex-wife where necessary. However, amendments to the Women’s Charter have made it possible for the husband to apply for maintenance as well. Ill or incapacitated husbands or ex-husbands can now apply for maintenance if he is:

  • Incapacitated by a physical or mental disability, before or during the course of marriage;
  • Unable to earn a living as a result of the disability; and
  • Unable to support himself

Determining the Quantum of Maintenance

The court will look at the facts and determine whether the party seeking maintenance has such a need; and if so, the appropriate quantum of maintenance. Pursuant to section 114 of the Women’s Charter, the factors that will influence such a decision include:

  1. The earning power of both parties, previously, currently and in the future.
  2. The assets owned by either and both parties.
  3. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of both parties in the future. (For example if the wife is awarded the care and control of the child, she would also need to bear the financial burden of raising the child, whilst the child would require maintenance too. Therefore, the husband may be ordered to pay for such sums.)
  4. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the marriage broke down.
  5. The age of the parties and the duration of the marriage.
  6. The contributions made by each party to the family.
  7. Any potential losses suffered by the parties as a result of the marriage.

Tip for Spouses Applying for Maintenance


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This sounds like a “duh” statement, but getting maintenance might actually be difficult if you’re earning a high salary. – The judge may take it that you are financially self-sufficient and hence don’t need much maintenance from your spouse. Or that you don’t need any at all. – But if you aren’t awarded any maintenance during the divorce, you won’t be entitled to apply for ANY maintenance from your ex-spouse in the future. This is even you need the financial support because your circumstances have materially changed. – Therefore even if the judge is reluctant to award you a high amount of maintenance, try to push to get at least $1. This will preserve your option to apply for more maintenance from your ex-spouse should the need arise in the future. #SingaporeLegalAdvice

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Even if the Judge is reluctant to order a large maintenance fee, the party applying for maintenance should still push for at least a nominal maintenance fee of $1. This ensures that he/she still has an option of applying for an increase in maintenance under section 112 of the Women’s Charter in future, should the need arise.

However, if the Judge does not grant any maintenance at all, there is no possibility of obtaining maintenance subsequently.

Hence to ensure that there is a safety net of having maintenance when needed, one should try to obtain minimally a $1 maintenance fee. This was highlighted in the Court of Appeal case of AFE v APF, where it was clarified that a lack of order given by the Judge equated to closing off any prospects of maintenance indefinitely.

Before getting a divorce
  1. How to Get a Divorce in Singapore in 2019: Process and Requirements
  2. How Can I Divorce Overseas?
  3. Mandatory Parenting Programme Guide for Divorcing Parents
  4. Online Divorce in Singapore: How It Works and Should You Get One?
  5. Getting a Divorce Due to “Irreconcilable Differences” in Singapore
  6. How to Get a Divorce Within 3 Years of Marriage
  7. Personal Protection Orders (PPOs), Expedited Orders (EOs) and Domestic Exclusion Orders (DEOs) in Singapore
  8. Prenuptial Agreements in Singapore
  9. What are the Legal Grounds for Getting a Divorce?
  10. Separation in Singapore
  11. Annulment of Marriage in Singapore
  12. Practical Preparations for a Divorce
  13. 3 Finance Questions To Ask Before a Divorce
Divorce Fees
  1. Comprehensive Guide to Divorce Fees in Singapore (Updated Sep 2018)
Getting a Divorce Lawyer
  1. The Complete Guide to Choosing a Good Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  2. First Meeting with Your Divorce Lawyer: What to Bring
  3. Don’t Just Go for the Cheapest Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  4. Find Experienced Divorce Lawyers in Singapore
  5. Child Custody Lawyers in Singapore
Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage
  1. How to Prove Adultery for Divorce Purposes in Singapore
  2. Getting a Divorce: How to Prove Desertion
  3. How to Prove Unreasonable Behaviour
  4. How to Prove Separation for a Singapore Divorce
Application for Divorce Part I: Dissolution of Marriage
  1. Procedure for Dissolution of Marriage
  2. Divorce Mediation in Singapore
  3. Divorce Application: What to Do If Your Spouse Cannot be Found
  4. Simplified Uncontested Divorce vs Contested Divorce in Singapore
Application for Divorce Part 2: Ancillary Matters (Maintenance, Assets, Custody)
  1. Procedure for Ancillary Matters
  2. What Happens to Gifts Between Spouses During a Divorce?
  3. What Happens to Property and Assets Located Overseas Upon a Divorce in Singapore?
  4. Getting Divorced: Child Maintenance in Singapore
  5. Maintenance of Spouse in a Singapore Divorce
  6. Guide to Child Custody, Care and Control, and Access in Singapore
  7. How Does the Court Divide Matrimonial Assets in a Singapore Divorce?
  1. What Happens to Your HDB Flat after Divorce?
  2. Variation of Maintenance Orders in Singapore
  3. Division of CPF Assets (Monies, House, Investments) after a Divorce
  4. Divorce Certificates in Singapore: How to Get a Copy and Other FAQs
  5. Transfer of Matrimonial Home to Ex-Spouse After Divorce
  6. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Denies You Access to Your Child
  7. What Happens If Your Ex-Spouse Does Not Provide Maintenance?
Expatriate Divorce
  1. Can Foreigners Divorce in Singapore?
  2. Expat or Foreigner Divorce in Singapore: 10 Legal Issues to Consider
  3. Immigration Issues for Divorcing Expatriates
  4. Hague Convention in Singapore: Overseas Child Abduction in Divorce
  5. Case Study: Cross-Border Child Custody and the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction
Muslim or Syariah Divorce
  1. Muslim Divorce in Singapore
  2. Applying for Nafkah Idaah and Mutaah in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore
Other divorce matters
  1. What Happens to Your HDB Flat after an Annulment?
  2. Case Study - Love conquers All: The Divorce That Didn’t Happen