ANCILLARY MATTERS: MAINTENANCE OF WIFE
Under Section 113 of the Women’s Charter, the former Wife is entitled to get maintenance in the case of a divorce.
In assessing how much maintenance the former Wife is entitled to, the Court will take into account all facts and circumstances of each case. The following factors are considered:
1. The length of the marriage;
2. The Husband’s ability to provide maintenance;
3. The financial needs of the former Wife;
4. The former Wife’s standard of living during the marriage;
5. The former Wife’s salary and earning capacity;
6. The likelihood of the former Wife remarrying.
Ultimately, the Court exercises a broad discretion to ascertain the amount of maintenance the former Wife is entitled to. Maintenance can be paid on a periodic basis or paid as a lump sum payment.
A periodic payment is of a continuing nature (usually monthly payment), which attracts several other provisions of law:
1. Security: The Court may order that the periodic payments be secured so that the former Wife is assured of payment;
2. Duration: The periodic payment order has a lifespan which expires upon the death of Husband or Wife, or the former Wife’s remarriage (whichever is earlier);
3. Variation: The periodic payment order may be varied or rescinded at any time if the Court is satisfied that there has been a material change in the circumstances.
Lump sum payment
A lump sum payment order will only be made if the Husband has the financial means to do so. A lump sum payment order is appropriate for parties who want a clean break from one another, and will typically be ordered if the Husband is exceptionally uncooperative.
However, a lump sum payment order will not be desirable where the Husband’s financial resources remain in a state of flux or where it would financially cripple the Husband.
Once a lump sum payment order is executed, it is exhausted and there is then no room for variation.
Nominal maintenance of $1
Do note that the Wife is only allowed one application for maintenance from the husband. Therefore, where the Wife may not currently be in need of maintenance, the wise thing to do is to apply for a nominal order so that it may subsequently be varied when the need arises.
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