Singapore

More help to enforce ex-spouses' monthly maintenance

People who face problems getting their monthly maintenance from former spouses can get help earlier.

The Government is beefing up the maintenance record officer (MRO) scheme to identify those in financial hardship from the first time they file an enforcement application to compel their former spouses to pay up.

The necessary help will be provided earlier, instead of waiting until multiple applications have been filed.

These officers assist the courts by getting information about the individual's financial circumstances.

They also help to identify those who refuse to pay - even though they have the means to do so - so that the courts can impose harsher penalties.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin announced the changes at the Family Justice Practice Forum yesterday.

TEDIOUS

"... Having to return to court to enforce a maintenance order can be tedious and frustrating," he said.

"This is especially so when the other parent has the means to pay but refuses to do so."

The Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Family Justice Courts are also looking at including the MROs as part of the court process, but this requires legislative changes.

Currently, cases are referred to these officers only if both parties agree to it. They can also choose what information to declare.

The Straits Times understands that if the MROs are included as part of the court process, those involved will have no choice but to furnish whatever financial information that is asked of them.

The changes are targeted to be implemented by the fourth quarter of the year. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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MINISTRY OF SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT (MSF)tan chuan-jinFamily