Spousal maintenance: Case-by-case approach fairer

Spousal maintenance: Case-by-case approach fairer

Ms Zhao Xinying's main concern seems to be that the contributions of women to their marriages are not being adequately recognised ("Problem with gender-neutral laws"; May 8).

She contends that gender-neutral laws will be unable to reflect such contributions and are, hence, inherently unfair.

Her concerns may be unfounded as gender-neutral laws look at the sacrifices each party puts into the marriage, casting aside gender as the main consideration.

A gender-neutral law will look at matters on a case-by-case basis. It considers situations where women may have made more sacrifices, and also others where men have given up their careers to look after the family.

Just because househusbands are not prevalent in our society does not mean we should completely ignore them and base a law on an across-the-board assumption that would deny such individuals their due, just because of their gender.

A case-by-case approach, where due consideration is given to situations where inequities are present or absent, ought to be taken instead. That will be a fairer way to prevent the "glossing over" of unequal contributions parties may have made to a marriage.

Phua Jun Han

This article was published on May 16 in The Straits Times.

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