Fewer divorcees defaulting on maintenance

Fewer divorcees defaulting on maintenance

Fewer divorcees have been defaulting on maintenance payments since landmark amendments were made to the Women's Charter three years ago.

Last year, 19 people were jailed for failing to pay up, compared with 45 in 2011.

The number of court applications for enforcement orders compelling former spouses to maintain their ex-marital partners and children has also dropped from 1,900 in 2009 to 1,700 last year. A small number of these cases involved women paying their former husbands.

"These figures show that we are seeing an improvement," said senior divorce lawyer Tan Siew Kim.

In 2011, the Women's Charter - which oversees marriage, divorce and maintenance issues - was amended to allow the courts to impose new sanctions beyond fines and imprisonment.

They include financial counselling, community service and attachment of earnings orders, which make the person's employer pay the maintenance money from his monthly wage.

Complainants can also get a credit bureau to list the debt in a defaulter's credit report, which can be accessed by banks and financial institutions. This makes it tougher for a defaulter to take out loans or sign up for hire- purchase schemes.

Since the new measures were introduced, the court has issued an annual average of 118 attachment of earnings orders and two banker's guarantees. It has also made 10 people go for financial counselling and two for community service each year.

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