DIVORCE? SHOW ME THE MONEY- EPISODE 1/想离婚?您有足够的钱吗?-第一部

DIVORCE? SHOW ME THE MONEY- EPISODE 1

**可以在下方查看本文章的华文版本

Maintenance Order

In our previous article, we discussed about the enforcement of a Court Order obtained after the divorce proceedings. One of the terms that often included in the Court Order is spousal and/or children maintenance.

The term ‘maintenance’ has a very wide meaning. It signifies any form of material provision that will enable an ex-spouse to live a normal life and the necessities for a child to be brought up properly.

Faiza Tamby Chik J (as he then was) in Sivajothi A/P K Suppiah v Kunathasan A/L Chelliah [2000] 6 MLJ 48, adopted the definition of ‘maintenance’ in the English case of Borthwick & Anor v Beauvais & Ors [1949] 1 Ch 395 where Harman J held:-

It is said that maintenance is the-only thing you can look at. What does that mean? It does not mean that you can only give the dependant just enough to put a little jam on his bread and butter. It has been already held that what is reasonable for one may not be reasonable for another. It must depend on the circumstances of the case. It certainly depends to some extent on the circumstances of the widow, but I think it may also depend on the circumstances of the testator, that is to say, whether he died a rich man or not, because a rich man may be supposed to have made better provision for his wife’s maintenance than a poor one. Maintenance does not only mean the food she puts in her mouth it means the clothes on her back, the house in which she lives, and the money which she has to have in her pocket, all of which vary according to the means of the man who leaves a wife behind him. I think that must be so. Maintenance cannot mean only mere subsistence.

Spousal Maintenance

First, pursuant to Section 77(1) of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (“LRA”), the Court may order a man to pay maintenance to his wife or former wife, in situations below:-

(a) during the course of any matrimonial proceedings;

(b) when granting or subsequent to the grant of a decree of divorce or judicial separation;

(c) if, after a decree declaring her presumed to be dead, she found to be alive.

It is not necessary for a party to file a divorce petition prior to seeking a maintenance order. The Court in Diana Clarice Chan Chiing Hwa v Tiong Chiong Hoo [2002] 2 MLJ 97; [2002] 2 AMR 1527; [2002] 1 CLJ 721 held that that the action of the Wife in applying to the reconciliatory tribunal constituted a start to the divorce proceedings and therefore, she was allowed to claim for maintenance under section 77 (1) of the LRA.

Although section 77(1) of the LRA specifies payment of maintenance by a man to the woman, the Court nonetheless, has the power under section of the 77(2) of the LRA to order a woman to pay maintenance to her husband or former husband if he is incapacitated, wholly or partially, unable to earn a livelihood by reason of mental or physical injury or ill-health, and the Court is satisfied that she has the means and reasonable to so.

Do note that Section 77 of the LRA only limits to divorce and judicial separation proceedings. In the event the parties wish to annul the marriage, no maintenance order will be made.

Assessment of the maintenance amount

The assessment of the maintenance amount is in Section 78 of the LRA and the key points to note are:-

(a) the Court will assess the means and needs of the parties although the maintenance ordered will affect the income of the paying husband/wife;

(b) the Court will consider the degree of responsibility of the parties to the breakdown of the marriage.

It is further elaborated in Koay Cheng Eng v Linda Herawati Santoso [2008] 4 MLJ 863 that the Court will have regard to the duration of the marriage, the amount of children of the marriage, the age of the parties, the financial arrangement during the marriage, the parties earning capabilities and whether the divorce would have affected the spouse’s position financially when assessing the means and needs of the parties.

Despite the wife is gainfully employed and possibly self-sustain with the salary earned, she is still entitled to maintenance as seen in Kathirsean Kumarasan v Punaswarthy K Shanmugam [2013] 10 CLJ 329. The Court granted the maintenance equivalent to the amount she has received during the marriage so that she could be placed in same standard of living as she had during the marriage.

However, in the case Dr Shameni Pillai Pb Rajedran v Dr S Arulselvam Sanggilly & Anor [2011] 6 CLJ 782, the Petitioner Wife failed to justify her needs or explained how the Respondent Husband should pay her RM7,500 a month from his earnings of RM4,500 per month. The Petitioner Wife was a professionally qualified medical doctor and was capable of earning a good living. She is also young and the marriage was short-lived with no children. In view of these circumstances, the claim for maintenance was dismissed by the Court.

In summary, the assessment on the maintenance amount is decided on a case to case basis and not cast in stones vis a vis section 78 of the LRA.

Type of the maintenance payments

(a) Periodical payment of maintenance

Periodical payment of maintenance is the most common form of maintenance order that the Court grants. The spouse is usually obliged to pay to make monthly maintenance payments to the other spouse.

(b) Lump sum maintenance

As Section 77(1)(a) of the LRA is silent on the method of payments, the Court is empowered to order payment of maintenance in a lump sum payment after considering the facts and circumstances prevailing in the particular case.

In Chaw Anui v Tan Kim Chai [2004] 4 MLJ 272, the husband had the financial means, capacity and resources to make a lump sum payment. Therefore, the Court made the lump sum maintenance order to achieve a practical and feasible clean break.

(c) Order for Maintenance Pending Suit (also known as Interim Maintenance).

A contested divorce proceeding usually takes a long time to be completed. In such situation, it is appropriate for the spouse to ask for interim maintenance pending the completion of the divorce. The purpose for an interim maintenance is well explained in Lee Chin Guan (L) v Pang Kim Joon (P) [2017] MLJU 2021 where the Court held that:-

the rationale behind the provision of maintenance is to prevent the destitution of the wife and children. The Act empowers the court to order maintenance payment against the husband for the benefit of the wife. 

The premature issue does not arise, as it is for her benefit to ensure her continued sustenance of a normal life that she is accustomed to during the existence of the marriage in accordance to the means of a man who leaves a wife behind. The court must consider this issue in light of the foregoing guiding legal principles.” 

However, the amount ordered to be paid in the interim maintenance order may not necessarily be the same amount when granting the decree nisi for divorce.

(d) Arrears of maintenance

Arrears of maintenance are maintenance defaulted by the spouse during the period of their marriage and becomes a debt. However, the other spouse has the right to recover the arrears of maintenance for only up to 3 years before the institution of the divorce suit pursuant to Section 86(3) of the LRA. 

Security for maintenance

Secured maintenance order will be granted by the Court if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the periodical payments order and/or lump sum payment order will not be carried out although there are funds or assets available to do so.

Usually, the Court will order a security for maintenance when:-

(a) the spouse has failed to obey the previous maintenance order, such as interim maintenance order;

(b) the spouse has a history of financial irresponsibility;

(c) the recipient of the maintenance has been informed of the refusal to pay despite there being a maintenance order.

Pursuant to Section 79 of the LRA, the Court may order the person who is liable to pay the maintenance, to vest the whole or part of his or her property in trust to ensure that he or she will be committed to pay the maintenance. If he or she failed to do so, the property will be sold and/or transferred for the satisfaction of the maintenance payment. 

For example in the case of Chaw Anui v Tan Kim Chai [2004] 4 MLJ 272, the Court ordered the matrimonial home to be vested in the husband as trustee for the wife. The trust will be registered with the relevant land administrator or land registry to secure the payment of the lump sum maintenance of RM1million to the wife. The trust could only be discharged upon the satisfaction by the husband of the RM1million payment.

Duration of the order for spousal maintenance

Pursuant to Section 81 of the LRA, unless it is expressly stated that the spousal maintenance order should be for a shorter period, the order of maintenance shall expired:-

(a) Unsecured maintenance – on the death of the husband or wife, whichever is the earlier;

(b) Secure maintenance – on the death of the spouse in whose favour it was made.

Nonetheless, Section 82(1) of the LRA ceases the payment of maintenance upon the recipient spouse remarriage or is living in adultery with any other person.

In Show Me the Money – Episode 2, we will discuss about the maintenance for the children of the marriage, which is also governed under the LRA.

By: Lee Su Ting & Joanne Leong

DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice and/or legal opinion. Messrs Yeoh & Joanne accepts no liability for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in this article.

 

想离婚?您有足够的钱吗?-第一部

 

赡养费法院令

在我们上一篇文章中,我们讨论了离婚诉讼后获得的法院命令的执行方式。法院令中通常包括的条款之一是配偶和/或子女的赡养费。

“赡养费”一词有非常广泛的含义。它意味着任何形式的物质供应,使前配偶能够过上正常的生活,并使孩子得到适当的抚养。

Faiza Tamby Chik J法官(他当时的身份)在Sivajothi A/P K Suppiah v Kunathasan A/L Chelliah [2000] 6 MLJ 48一案中,采用了英国案例Borthwick & Anor v Beauvais & Ors [1949] 1 Ch 395中的“赡养费”定义,Harman J法官认为:-

据说赡养费是你唯一能参考的这是什么意思?这并不意味着你能只给受扶养人一点果酱涂在他的面包和黄油上已经认为对一个人来说合理的东西对另一个人来说可能不合理这必须视情况而定这当然在某种程度上取决于寡妇的情况但我认为这也可能取决于立遗嘱人的情况也就是说,他逝世是否一个富人因为一个富人可能被认为比一个穷人为他妻子的生活提供了更好的保障。维持生活不仅仅意味着她放在嘴里的食物,还意味着她背上的衣服她住的房子以及她口袋里必须有的钱所有这些都随着男人抛弃妻子的方式而变化我想一定是这样。赡养费不能仅仅意味着生存

配偶赡养费

首先,根据《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第77(1)条,在下列情况下,法院可以命令男子向其妻子或前妻支付赡养费:-

(a) 在任何婚姻法律程序中;

(b) 在批准离婚或司法分居法令时或之后;

(c) 如果在宣布她推定死亡的法令颁布后,她被发现她还活着。

一方没有必要在申请赡养费令之前提出离婚申请。法院在Diana Clarice Chan Chiing Hwa v Tiong Chiong Hoo [2002] 2 MLJ 97; [2002] 2 AMR 1527; [2002] 1 CLJ 721案件中认为,妻子向婚姻调解庭提出申请的行为构成了离婚诉讼的开始,因此,她被允许根据《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第77 (1)条要求赡养费。

尽管《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第77(1)条规定由男子向妇女支付抚养费,但根据《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第77(2)条,如果丈夫或前夫因精神或身体伤害或健康不佳而完全或部分丧失谋生能力,法院有权命令妇女向其支付抚养费。

请注意《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第77条仅限制于离婚和司法分居程序。如果双方希望取消婚姻,法院将不会颁发赡养费令。

赡养费金额的评估

《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第78条对赡养费金额进行了评估,需要注意的要点是:-

(a) 法院将评估双方的经济能力和需求,尽管命令的赡养费会影响付款丈夫/妻子的收入;

(b) 法院将考虑双方在婚姻破裂的责任程度。

Koay Cheng Eng v Linda Herawati Santoso [2008] 4 MLJ 863案中,法院将考虑婚姻的持续时间、婚姻的子女数量、双方的年龄、婚姻期间的财务安排、双方的收入能力,以及在评估双方的能力和需求时考虑离婚是否会对配偶的财务状况产生影响。

尽管妻子从事有报酬的工作,并可能靠挣得的工资自给自足,但她仍有权获得赡养费,如Kathirsean Kumarasan v Punaswarthy K Shanmugam [2013] 10 CLJ 329案件中可看到。法院判给她相当于她在婚姻存续期间所获金额的赡养费,以便她能够享有与婚姻存续期间相同的生活水平。

然而,在Dr Shameni Pillai Pb Rajedran v Dr S Arulselvam Sanggilly & Anor [2011] 6 CLJ 782一案中,申请人妻子未能证明自己的需要,也未能解释答辩人丈夫应如何从每月4500令吉的收入中每月支付她7500令吉。申请人妻子是一名专业合格的医生,有能力谋生。她也很年轻,该婚姻很短暂,他们没有孩子。鉴于这些情况,法院驳回了她对赡养费的要求。

总之,根据《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第78条,对维持费的评估是根据具体情况决定的,而不是一成不变的。

赡养费的类型

(a) 定期支付赡养费

定期支付赡养费是法院授予的最常见的赡养费令形式。配偶通常有义务每月向另一方支付赡养费。

(b) 一次性赡养费

由于《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第77(1)(a)条没有规定支付方式,法院有权在考虑具体案件的事实和情况后,下令一次性支付赡养费。

Chaw Anui v Tan Kim Chai [2004] 4 MLJ 272案中,丈夫有财力、能力和资源一次性付款。因此。法院颁发了一笔一次性赡养费令,以实现切实可行的彻底分开。

(c) 离婚诉讼前赡养费令(也称为临时赡养费)

有争议的离婚诉讼通常需要很长时间才能完成。在这种情况下,配偶在离婚结束前要求临时赡养费是适当的。在Lee Chin Guan (L) v Pang Kim Joon (P) [2017] MLJU 2021一案中,法院充分解释了临时赡养费的目的,法院认为:-

提供赡养费的理由是防止妻子和子女陷入贫困该法授权法院为了妻子的利益命令丈夫支付赡养费 

过早申请的问题是不存在的因为这是她的利益以确保她在婚姻存续期间抛弃他的男人所给予她所习惯的正常生活得以持续维持。法院必须根据上述指导性法律原则考虑这个问题。

然而,在批准临时赡养费令时,临时赡养令费中命令支付的金额不一定是相等于最终离婚法院令的金额。

(d) 被拖欠的赡养费

赡养费欠款是指配偶在婚姻存续期间没有支付的赡养费,成为债务。然而,根据《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第86(3)条,配偶仅有权追讨在提起离婚诉讼前3年所拖欠的赡养费,即3年前的欠款将无法追讨。

赡养费的保障

如果配偶有合理的理由认为定期付款赡养费令和/或一次性付款赡养费令将有困难于执行,尽管该配偶是有资金或资产可以这样做的,法院将颁发担保赡养费令。 

通常,法院会在下列情况下下令提供担保赡养费令:-

(a) 配偶未能遵守先前的赡养费令,如临时赡养费令;

(b) 配偶有财务不负责任的历史;

(c) 尽管有赡养费令,但收款人已被告知将被拒绝付款。

根据《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第79条,法院可命令有责任支付抚养费的人将其全部或部分财产委托他人保管,以确保其承诺支付赡养费。如果他或她没有这样做,财产将被出售和/或转让,以支付该赡养费。

例如,在Chaw Anui v Tan Kim Chai [2004] 4 MLJ 272一案中,法院命令丈夫将婚姻住所授予妻子作为受托人。信托将在相关土地管理人或土地登记处登记,作为向妻子一次性支付100万令吉的担保。只有在丈夫支付了100万令吉后,信托才能被解除。

配偶扶养令的期限

根据《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第81条,除非明确规定配偶赡养令的期限较短,否则赡养费令应在以下情况到期:-

(a) 无担保赡养费令 —— 丈夫或妻子死亡时,以较早者为准;

(b) 有担保赡养费 —— 在获得赡养费的配偶死亡时。

尽管如此,1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》第82(1)条规定,在接收赡养费的配偶再婚或与任何其他人通奸时,将被停止支付赡养费。

想离婚?您有足够的钱吗?-第二部,我们将讨论子女的赡养费问题,这也是《1976年法律改革婚姻与离婚法令》的管辖范围。

文章来自于:

律师事务所合伙人梁佩欣律师(Joanne Leong)与李淑婷律师(Lee Su Ting) 

免责声明:本文仅供参考,不应作为法律建议和/或法律意见。Yeoh & Joanne律师事务所不会承担因依赖本文所含信息而产生的任何损失的责任。

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