Child Maintenance During National Service
Some frequently asked questions from clients include whether or not they are entitled to financial support from their ex-spouses before or after their children are 21 years old, when their children are enlisted in National Service (“NS”). Other questions include the amount that they should request for, from their spouses if they are entitled to financial support.
In light of these concerns, this article sheds light on the right for maintenance of a child who has entered NS. For specific legal advice, contact our dedicated team of specialist divorce lawyers who will be able to help you with your specific legal troubles.
Court Orders for Maintenance
According to Section 69(2) and Section 69(5) of the Women’s Charter, the court can order for maintenance of a child past the age of 21 years old, if the child is unable to maintain himself because he is serving full time NS.
Maintenance for Child in NS
1. When a child reaches 21 years of age and enters NS:
The Order of Court to pay maintenance for a child automatically ceases when a child turns 21 years old unless the Order of Court expressly provides that payment of maintenance is to continue for a period after the child reaches 21 years old.
In this case, according to Section 69(3)(b) of the Women’s Charter, an application for maintenance of a child where the child has attained the age of 21 years old is to be made by the child himself. This application can be made under Section 69 of the Women’s Charter for maintenance payments to be extended.
2. When a child is not 21 years of age yet, but enters NS:
A spouse paying child maintenance can also attempt to file a summons to rescind or vary a maintenance order when a child enters NS.
Factors Considered by the Court in Ordering Maintenance for Child in NS
Past Court judgements have taken into account various factors in deciding whether or not maintenance of a child undergoing NS should be ordered, and the quantity of maintenance to be ordered. The factors that a Court will take into account are not clear cut, as it depends on the circumstances of each case, and is in the discretion of the Court.
Past Court judgments however, mostly suggest that maintenance of a child undergoing NS below 21 years old, may be reduced from the amount previously paid, although still paid. Past Court judgments also suggest that maintenance of a child undergoing NS above 21 years old is likely to be granted. It is highlighted that although this is the trend for past Court judgments, these concepts cannot be extrapolated to all cases. Whether or not maintenance will be granted, and the quantity ordered if any, would depend entirely on the facts of your case. If you require an assessment of the facts of your case, you may contact our specialist divorce lawyers.
The list of factors that past Courts have taken into account to decide whether or not maintenance should be ordered, and the amount of maintenance to be awarded include, but are not limited to the following: -
- Amount of income, or potential income of the father and mother;
- Father and mother’s income in relation to each other’s income;
- The relationship of the father and mother (eg. acrimony in the relationship);
- Income of the child entering NS, if any;
- Child’s educational scholarships and grants, if any;
- Educational expenses of the child;
- Age of the child; and
- Expenses such as household and medical expenses etc.
Courts take a multifactorial approach to maintenance for a child, and decisions are fact centric. For legal advice on your specific circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact our dedicated team of specialist divorce lawyers.