Men may get alimony

This article is more than 12 months old

Men who are incapacitated may soon be able to claim maintenance from the wives they are divorcing.

The idea of awarding maintenance based on need and not gender is one of the proposed amendments to the Women's Charter that may be tabled in Parliament after public consultation ends early next year, reported The Straits Times online.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said this after he joined a women's group dialogue yesterday.

Possible changes to the Women's Charter will be based on recommendations released recently by the Family Justice Review Committee, which is reviewing the family justice system here.

Under the law now, only women can claim alimony from their husbands. They are eligible for maintenance regardless of their financial status. Men do not have this right.

Many have argued that times have changed, with more women able to support themselves because they are working. Some earn as much as, if not more than, their ex-husbands.

In 2011, the then Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports had considered calls for spousal maintenance to be made gender-neutral, but concluded that "we were not ready as a society".

The new provision should apply only if the men are incapacitated in some way, such as having severe disabilities, said Mr Chan.

Channel NewsAsia quoted Mr Chan as saying his ministry is also looking at strengthening support for women whose ex-husbands default on maintenance payments. This could be because these men do not hold stable jobs, or perhaps are from other countries and flee Singapore after the divorce.

Enforcement of maintenance is also being looked at by a committee tasked to review the family justice system.