​​​​​​This section provides a summary of the procedures for applying for maintenance or enforcing an existing maintenance order at the Family Justice Courts.


The information provided below is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. The Family Justice Courts cannot provide legal advice or assist with drafting the contents of any document.


References to legislation




This section helps you to understand what maintenance is, how applying for maintenance helps you and the procedures for applying for maintenance in the Family Justice Courts.



What is Maintenance?

Maintenance is a form of financial support.


Who can apply for maintenance?

You can apply for maintenance,

  • for your child, from the other parent, if he or she neglects or refuses to provide your child with reasonable maintenance;
  • for yourself, from your husband, if you are a married woman whose husband neglects or refuses to provide you with reasonable maintenance;
  • for yourself, from your wife, if you are an incapacitated husband whose wife has neglected or refused to provide you with reasonable maintenance; or
  • for yourself, from your parent, if you are over 21 and you are still a full-time NSman or student.

Women’s Charter (CAP. 353), Section 69


What maintenance orders can the Court make?

The Court may make orders for a monthly allowance, or a lump sum, to be paid as maintenance for a wife and/or the child, or an incapacitated husband.

Such maintenance orders can be made whether parties are married, or divorce proceedings are pending under Part X of the Women’s Charter, or as part of the final orders in the ancillary matters stage in divorce proceedings under Part X of the Women’s Charter.

In addition, the Court has powers to vary, rescind or suspend maintenance orders made in the above scenarios.


How do I apply for maintenance?

You may draft your application for maintenance via iFAMS at your own convenience or apply straight at the Family Registry, Level 1, Family Justice Courts.


What if the respondents are residing outside Singapore?

If you want to file an application for maintenance against a respondent who resides outside Singapore, you may do so if:

  •  you know the respondent’s address in the foreign country; and
  • ​​ the country is one of those which has made arrangements with Singapore on maintenance matters.

These countries are listed in the Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act (Cap 169).

If you meet these conditions, you may file an application for maintenance in the same way that you would if the respondent lived in Singapore.
If you are applying to enforce an existing maintenance order, you must bring a copy of that order when you come to the Family Justice Courts to file your Magistrate’s Complaint. After your Complaint is filed, the Court will send the necessary papers to the authorities in the respondent’s country for enforcement.   

If you are applying for maintenance for the first time, you will be given a Court date to attend before a Magistrate or District Judge in open court. You must bring:

  •  your Marriage Certificate, or the children’s Birth Certificates, if you are applying for their maintenance;
  •  information on the respondent’s residential address in the foreign country; and
  •  a photograph of the respondent.

You will give sworn or affirmed evidence, and produce any documents in support of the application—such as, for example receipts for expenses incurred by the child, if you are applying for maintenance of a child.

The Magistrate or District Judge may then issue a provisional maintenance order. The provisional maintenance order will be sent to the respondent’s country. The provisional maintenance order must be confirmed there before it becomes effective.
The procedures in each receiving country will vary depending on what mechanisms or practices have been put in place by the competent authorities in that particular country. Staff of the Family Justice Courts will not be able to advise you on how long the process will take in the receiving country.


Do I have to maintain my child if the Court has granted care and control to the other parent?

Under the Women's Charter, the responsibility of maintaining the children lies with both parents. This does not change if the parents divorce, or if the children now live with just one parent. The Court normally orders the parent without care and control to pay the children's maintenance to the parent with care and control. 


What factors does the Court consider in making a maintenance order?

Whether the Court is making the maintenance order under section 69 or Part X of the Women's Charter, the Court is duty-bound to consider all the circumstances of the case.

Sections 69 and 114 specify some particular issues that the Court will consider. These include:

  •  the financial needs of the wife or child;
  •  the income, earning capacity (if any), property and other financial resources of the wife or child;
  •  any physical or mental disability of the wife or child; and
  •  the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage.

You, as well as the respondent to your application, will be asked to produce the relevant documents in Court to enable the Judge to make a decision on the appropriate amount of maintenance to be ordered.

The usual documents include:

  •  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.


Can I withhold access if the other parent has not been paying child maintenance?

No. The Court considers maintenance issues and parenting issues separately. You are still bound by the Court order to allow the other parent to have access to the children even if he or she is not making regular maintenance payments.

You may wish to apply to Court to enforce the maintenance order against the other parent.


Can I withhold maintenance if the other parent has not been allowing me to see the child?

No. The Court considers maintenance issues and parenting issues separately. You must still pay maintenance for your children, even if your former spouse is not allowing you to see them.

If you wish to see your children, but are experiencing problems with your former spouse, you may wish to consult a lawyer about enforcing the access order


Do I need a lawyer?

No, you do not need a lawyer to apply for maintenance. If you need to be legally represented at the court hearing, you may engage a lawyer. To maintain impartiality, Court Staff are not able to provide legal advice or recommend lawyers. You may refer to  the Law Society for a list of lawyers. If you need free legal advice or legal assistance, please seek help from the Community Justice CentreCommunity Legal Clinics or Legal Aid Bureau.



Last updated on: 13/7/2017 3:14 PM


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