This section summarises the steps to take if you are:

  1. applying for maintenance;
  2. seeking to vary (either upwards or downwards) an existing maintenance order;
  3. seeking to rescind an existing maintenance order;
  4. seeking to suspend an existing maintenance order; or
  5. seeking to enforce and existing maintenance order.


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.



First Step: Apply for maintenance, rescission, suspension or enforcement of an existing maintenance order

You must bring:

  • your identity card;
  • photocopy of your marriage certificate( if applicable);
  • photocopy of the birth certificate(s) of your child(ren)(if applicable); and
  • photocopy of the Order of Court(e.g. custody order) that you wish to enforce (if applicable)

The "Complainant" is the person applying for maintenance. The "Respondent" is the person against whom you are filing the application for maintenance.

When you have completed and submitted your application for maintenance (in the form of a Magistrate’s Complaint), you must swear or affirm your complaint before a Magistrate or District Judge.


  • To swear or affirm the Magistrate’s Complaint means that you confirm that the contents of what you have written in the form are true and correct.
  • It is a serious offence to include statements that you know to be untrue or incorrect in a sworn or affirmed Magistrate’s Complaint.

If your application is in order, a summons will be issued to the respondent. You pay a nominal sum of S$1.00 for the issuance of the summons.


Service of the Summons

A letter will be sent to the Respondent for him or her to accept the summons at the Maintenance Registry of the Family Justice Courts on a stipulated date (also known as service date) and time.


Service Date

During the service date, free mediation will be available for the parties.
If a settlement is reached, you will both be brought before a Magistrate or District Judge to have the settlement recorded as a Court order. That will conclude your case. You will both receive copies of the order by post. If no settlement is reached, both parties will be given a court date.

If the Respondent is absent from Court on the service date, the Court’s process server will serve the summons on the Respondent at his or her home or workplace. The Respondent will be notified to attend Court on a stipulated day two or three weeks after the complaint is filed.


Court Mention

During your next Court appearance, your case will be mentioned in Family Justice Courts 1 before a District Judge.

A mention is a short hearing. It usually lasts only five minutes. The Judge may hear up to 30 or 40 mentions per half day session in Family Justice Courts 1.

At your mention, the Judge will:

  • consider whether the case may be resolved by agreement;
  • give orders on the production of evidence—in maintenance cases, the usual evidence consists of parties’ bank and CPF statements, salary slips, IRAS Notices of Assessments and lists of personal monthly expenses;
  • give orders on the filing of affidavits, if you or the Respondent have lawyers, or know how to prepare affidavits;
  • determine how many days are needed for the hearing of your case, and fix trial dates accordingly.

If you have applied to enforce an existing maintenance order, the District Judge may direct the Respondent to show cause as to why he or she has breached the maintenance order, and why enforcement action should not be taken against him or her. 
If you are the Respondent, you should ensure that all the documents you want to rely on—for example, any medical reports or letters of retrenchment—are ready to be shown to the Judge on the mention date.


  • If you fail to turn up on any of your Court dates, including the date for service of the summons on the Respondent, your application may be struck out. This means that you will have to file another Magistrate’s Complaint, and the same fees will apply.
  • If you are the Respondent, your failure to turn up in court on the Mention date will result in the issuance of a Warrant of Arrest against you.


Open Court Hearing

Maintenance order trials are heard before a Magistrate or a District Judge in court. The open court trial may take a few hours, one day or longer depending on the complexity of the case.

Both parties will have to give evidence before the Judge to prove your respective cases. If either party wishes to call witnesses at the trial, they should inform the Judge of their intention during the mention in Family Court 1.

The Judge will make the necessary orders after the hearing is over.


Trial Proceedings

At the trial, parties would generally go through the following:

  • The Complainant gives his or her documents to the Court, and takes the witness stand to give sworn or affirmed evidence.
  • The Respondent may cross-examine the Complainant on what he or she has said.
  • The Respondent gives his or her documents to the Court, and takes the witness stand to give sworn or affirmed evidence.
  • The Complainant may cross-examine the Respondent on what he or she has said.

If either party is represented, the trial will be conducted by their lawyers. At the end of the hearing, the lawyers will present arguments on behalf of their respective clients.

The Magistrate or District Judge will then make the necessary orders. This marks the conclusion of the case.



If you are not satisfied with the order, you may appeal to a Judge of the High Court.

If you wish to appeal, you must do so by filing a Notice of Appeal (Form 114) in the High Court Family Division (Level 3) c/o the Family Justice Courts. The Notice must be filed and served within 14 days of the order.

You must also provide security for the other party’s costs of the appeal in the sum of:

  • $2,000, if you are appealing against a Magistrate’s order, or
  • $3,000, if you are appealing against a District Judge’s order.

* You may wish to refer to Order 55D of the Rules of Court for further details.

Please note that court staff cannot help you to file your appeal papers. You may refer to the Law Society for a list of lawyers. If you need legal advice or legal assistance, please seek help from the Community Justice Centre, Community Legal Clinics or Legal Aid Bureau.



Last updated on: 27/6/2017 12:29 PM


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