“Maintenance” refers to a form of monetary support for wives, children, and/or incapacitated husbands. Generally, maintenance is to be paid during and post-marriage.

Ways to pay maintenance

Maintenance can either be paid as a lump sum or periodic payments.

  • Periodic payments: This form of payment is typically preferred for a party that is unable to financially support and/or can only produce the sum across a period of time.
  • Lump sum payment: This form of payment supports the “Clean break” principle. It is ideal for parties that wish to move on with their lives, and avoid further interaction.

“Clean break” Principle

The “Clean break” principle refers to the idea that the arrangement/manner should allow for the parties to separate without further financial responsibility for each other. This is in order to make them as detached from each other.

Generally, a lump sum payment allows for a clean break in marriage and should be utilized whenever feasible (Lee Puey Hwa v Tay Cheow Seng [1991] 2 SLR(R) 196). A clean break can help to avoid further litigation and acrimony between parties (Wan Lai Cheng v Quek Seow Kee [2012] 4 SLR 405).

Furthermore, a lump sum would be appropriate where it can be assumed that late/non-payment would likely happen (Neo Mei Lan Helena; and BCS v BCT [2012] SGDC 338).

However, a lump sum should not be ordered if it cripples the husband financially.

Secured vs Unsecured Maintenance Order

Secured order: By vesting any property in trustees upon trust to pay the maintenance/any part of it out of the income from the property, and subject thereto, in trust for the settlor. An order for secured maintenance expires on the death or remarriage of a wife or incapacitated husband.

Unsecured order: No money is assured for this order. An order for unsecured maintenance expires upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the wife/incapacitated husband (whichever is earlier).

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Enforcement of Maintenance Orders

Where maintenance has not be paid, the maintenance order falls into arrears.

For the arrears of unsecured maintenance, the amount can be recovered as a debt. However, where maintenance is accrued before the death of the person, it can still be recoverable as a debt after their passing by their legal representative. 

If a person fails to make one or more payments of the maintenance order, the court is able to do the following for enforcement: –

  • (a) Levy a fine;
  • (b) Imprisonment;
  • (c) Garnishee orders; or
  • (d) Attachment of Earnings order.

Where you might require more advice and consultancy about your case and the legal procedures, it is ideal to consult a lawyer for guidance and representation. Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, family disputes to high-profile criminal cases. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.