Maintenance of ex-wives: Consider fairer system

Maintenance of ex-wives: Consider fairer system

The suggestions to simplify the divorce process and minimise unnecessary conflict are positive ("Panel moots ways to make divorce less adversarial"; last Thursday).

An area of concern that has received little attention is the plight of divorced men.

The system here has an inherent bias that significantly lowers their chances of remarrying.

A divorced man would typically be saddled with a huge financial burden as the divorce judgment may require him to pay a substantial portion of his income to his former spouse as maintenance.

Is it fair to deny a divorced man a second chance at love, especially if the breakdown of his marriage was not his fault?

Maintenance support for children is not in dispute. What needs closer re-examination is permanent maintenance for former wives, especially the younger and educated ones.

There is no reason why an able-bodied individual cannot find a job.

Perhaps a plausible solution would be to put in place a rehabilitative maintenance system. Under it, maintenance payments for the former wife could be decreased on a yearly basis, such that the woman has ample time to seek employment and be able to support herself.

This is a logical step forward as the socio-economic landscape has changed greatly since the Women's Charter was enacted more than 50 years ago. Nowadays, women are more well-educated and no longer face insurmountable hurdles in the job market.

The rehabilitative maintenance system has been practised in the United States for years. Singapore should consider moving in the same direction such that divorce judgments are made gender-neutral.

Letter from Oo Choon Peng

This article was published on April 23 in The Straits Times.

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