EPISODE 2 – SHOW THE CHILDREN MONEY/想离婚?您有足够的钱吗?-第二部

EPISODE 2 – SHOW THE CHILDREN MONEY

**可以在下方查看本文章的华文版本

Child Maintenance

Child maintenance for non-Muslims is governed under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (“LRA”). In Peninsular Malaysia, additional powers are given to the Court under the Married Women & Children Maintenance Act 1950 (“MWCMA”).

Section 92 of the LRA places the responsibility of maintaining a child on either parent except if there is an agreement or order of court that state otherwise. It also reads that child maintenance includes providing “accommodation, clothing, food and education as may be reasonable having regard the parent’s means and station in life”.

A child is defined as an individual who is below 18 years of age and is “a child of both parties to the marriage or a child of one party to the marriage accepted as one of the family by the other party”. This definition includes illegitimate children that have been adopted into the family pursuant to an adoption order.

Under section 3(1) of the MWCMA, the Court is empowered to order monthly maintenance to be paid to the wife or the legitimate child in proportion to the means of the man. Section 3(2) of the MWCMA grants similar powers to the Court as above but in illegitimate children context.

Whose duty to maintain a child?

Usually, the father is required to maintain a child. Section 93 of the LRA provides that the Court will order the man to pay for child maintenance if:-

(a) he refused or neglected reasonably to provide for the child;

(b) he deserted and/or left his wife and child;

(c) during the determination of a divorce proceeding; OR

(d) when making or subsequent to making an order to place the child in the custody of any other person.

However, this does not mean the woman is not required to pay or contribute to child maintenance because section 93(2) allows the Court to order the woman to pay or contribute maintenance if the Court is satisfied that she has the means and reasonable to do so. Nonetheless, the duty of the mother to provide child maintenance is secondary to the father’s responsibility.  

In the case of Khoo Cheng Nee v Lubin Chiew Pau Sing [1996] 4 MLJ 171, Abdul Wahab Patail JC (as he then was) held as follow:- 

The petitioner is not seeking maintenance for herself. However, she seeks RM1,000 per month per child. Plainly this is too high a sum. It takes no account of the respondent’s salary. There is no evidence he earns more than RM3,000 per month. While there is a legal obligation on the father to pay maintenance, it is not reasonable to order him to pay 66.7% of his salary ostensibly for just the children. The petitioner in wanting custody should also contribute.

Similarly in the case Wong Kim Foong (F) v Teau Ah Kau @ Chong Kwong Fatt [1998] 1 MLJ 359, the Court held that it would be unfair if the husband was ordered to shoulder the full payment of RM1,200.00 for the maintenance of the child when the wife is gainfully employed. The Court decided that she should contribute to the maintenance and therefore, ordered her to pay RM400.00 per month towards the maintenance sum.

As such, although the responsibility for paying child maintenance primarily rest with the man, the woman or any individuals, who is having the custody, care and control or trustees of the child is liable to pay or contribute to child maintenance too.

Assessment of the child maintenance

Child maintenance is assessed based on the means of the parents and the needs of the child.

The following factors may be considered by the court in assessing the child maintenance:-

(a) Financial needs of the child;

(b) Income, earning capacity, property, and other financial resources of the parent;

(c) Standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;

(d) Whether the child is suffering from any physical or mental disability.

However, the Court held in Karen Young v Ng Tia Ching [2018] 11 MLJ 377 that no child maintenance order should be granted if it would end up causing hardship to the person whom the order is made.

Security for maintenance

Just as spousal maintenance, the Court is empowered to order security for child maintenance 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 pursuant to section 94 of the LRA.

There are various forms of security that the Court may order. For example:-

In Leow Kooi Wah v Ng Kok Seng Philip &; Anor [1994] 1 LNS 278, the Court directed the spouse’s capital assets to be used to secure the periodical payments.

In Wong Chong Kiew v Lee Hock Seng [2020] MLJU 254, the Court ordered the husband to hold a portion of his Employee Provident Fund (EPF) on trust for the maintenance and education expenses of the child.

Security for child maintenance is an important feature especially for the child’s future education expenses. As such, it is advised to consider and pursue in a divorce proceedings. Nevertheless, it is observed In Re Sim And Chia [1993] 3 CLJ 254 that parties are encouraged if their financial positions permit, to contribute either monthly or yearly to saving accounts or endowment policies or education policies for the children apart from the necessities. 

Duration of the order for child maintenance

Pursuant to the amendment on section 95 of the LRA by the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Act 2017, unless expressed to be for a shorter period, the order for maintenance shall expire when the child attains 18 years old or when the child completes his or her further or higher education or training, whichever is later.

The amendments have effectively extended the duration of child maintenance. Parents, custodians or trustees must bear in mind that they are now obligated to pay or contribute maintenance even though the child is legally considered an adult.

However, if the child is under physical or mental disability, the order for maintenance shall expire when the child attains 18 years old or on the ceasing of such disability, whichever is later.

Failure to pay the child maintenance

When the party who is liable to pay the maintenance fails to comply with the maintenance order, the other party may initiate committal proceedings to hold his or her ex-spouse in contempt for refusing to obey the court order. The process and requirements for committal proceedings can be found in our previous article: CONTEMPT IN THE FAMILY COURT.

Other methods of executing the maintenance order are also discussed in our article: A Court Order is not just a piece of paper, it is enforceable against you!)

Conclusion­

Although the marriage has unfortunately come to an end, the welfare and benefit of the child should not be compromised and must be the utmost consideration of the parties. It is, therefore, advisable for the parties to achieve an amicable settlement on the child maintenance for the sake of the child.

By: Joanne Leong & Lee Su Ting

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?-第二部

孩子赡养费

非穆斯林的孩子赡养费受《1976年法律改革(婚姻和离婚)法》管辖。然而,在马来西亚半岛,《1950年已婚妇女和儿童赡养费法》,赋予法院额外的权力。

《1976年法律改革(婚姻和离婚)法》第92条规定,抚养子女的责任由父母任何一方承担,除非法院另有协议或命令。该法令还规定,孩子赡养费包括提供”考虑到父母的生活方式和地位,合理的食宿和教育”。

“孩子”被定义为18岁以下的个人和是“婚姻双方的子女或婚姻一方的子女,被另一方接受为家庭的一员”。这一定义包括根据收养令被家庭收养的非婚生子女。

根据《1950年已婚妇女和儿童赡养费法》第3(1)条,法院有权命令按照男子的能力范围向妻子或婚生子女支付每月赡养费。《1950年已婚妇女和儿童赡养费法》第3(2)条授予法院与上述类似的权力,但涉及非婚生子女。

谁有抚养孩子的责任?

通常,父亲需要抚养孩子。《1976年法律改革(婚姻和离婚)法》第93条规定,在下列情况下,法院将命令男子支付子女抚养费

(a)他拒绝或忽略抚养该孩子;

(b)他遗弃妻子和孩子;

(c)在离婚诉讼裁决期间;或者

(d)在作出将该儿童交由任何其他人看管的命令时或之后。

然而,这并不意味着妇女不必支付或分担子女抚养费,因为第93(2)条允许法院命令妇女支付或分担抚养费,如果法院认为她有能力和合理的理由这样做的话。尽管如此,母亲抚养孩子的责任比父亲的责任次要。

Khoo Cheng Nee v Lubin Chiew Pau Sing [1996] 4 MLJ 171一案,在Abdul Wahab Patail  JC (当时的他)的判决如下:

“请愿人不是为自己寻求赡养费。然而,她要求给予每个孩子每月1000令吉。显然这是一笔太高的数目。它没有考虑答辩人的工资。没有证据表明他每月收入超过3000令吉。虽然父亲有支付抚养费的法律义务,但命令他支付他工资的66.7% 就算表面上只是为了孩子是不合理的。希望获得监护权的申请人也应做出贡献。”

同样,在Wong Kim Foong (F) v Teau Ah Kau @ Chong Kwong Fatt [1998] 1 MLJ 359一案中,法院认为,如果妻子从事有酬职业,丈夫被命令承担抚养孩子的全部费用为1200令吉是不公平的。法院裁定她应支付部分赡养费,因此命令她每月支付400令吉作为孩子的赡养费。

因此,尽管支付子女赡养费的责任主要由男子,可是妇女或任何拥有监护、照料和控制孩子权利的人或受托人也有责任支付或分担孩子赡养费。

孩子赡养费的评估/计算

孩子赡养费是根据父母的收入和孩子的需求进行评估。

法院在评估孩子赡养费时可考虑以下因素:-

(a)孩子的经济需求;

(b)父母的收入、收入能力、财产和其他财政资源;

(c)婚姻破裂前家庭享有的生活水平;

(d)儿童是否患有任何身体或精神残疾。

然而,法院在Karen Young v Ng Tia Ching [2018] 11 MLJ 377一案中认为,如果孩子赡养令最终会给须执行法院令的一方造成困难,则不应批准该命令。

赡养费的保障

正如配偶赡养费一样,如果有合理的理由认为尽管该方有足够的资金或资产可以支付可是定期付款令和/或一次性付款令不会被执行,根据《1976年法律改革(婚姻和离婚)法》第94条,法院有权下令为子女抚养费提供担保。

法院可以命令各种形式的担保。例如:-

Leow Kooi Wah v Ng Kok Seng Philip &; Anor [1994] 1 LNS 278案中,法院指示配偶的资本资产用于担保定期付款令。

Wong Chong Kiew v Lee Hock Seng [2020] MLJU 254一案中,法院命令丈夫以信托形式持有其雇员公积金(EPF)的一部分,用于孩子的抚养和教育费用。

孩子赡养费保障是一个重要特征,尤其是对孩子未来的教育费用而言。因此,建议在离婚诉讼中考虑和追讨。尽管如此,在In Re Sim And Chia [1993] 3 CLJ 254一案中观察到,如果当事人的财务状况允许,除了必需品之外,法庭鼓励他们每月或每年向储蓄账或儿童教育政策存款。

孩子赡养费令的期限

根据《2017年法律改革(婚姻和离婚) (修正)法》对《1976年法律改革(婚姻和离婚)法》第95条进行的修正,除非明确规定较短支付期限,否则赡养费令将在儿童年满18岁或完成其高等教育或培训时到期,以较晚者为准。

修正案有效地延长了孩子赡养费的期限。父母、监护人或受托人必须牢记,即使孩子在法律上被视为成年人,他们现在也有义务支付或分担孩子赡养费。

但是,如果该孩子有身体或精神的残疾,赡养费令将在该孩子年满18岁或残疾停止时到期,以较晚者为准。

未支付子女抚养费

当有责任支付赡养费的一方不遵守赡养费令时,另一方可以提起拘押诉讼,以藐视法庭罪起诉其前配偶拒绝服从法院命令。拘押程序的详细质料可以在我们之前的文章中找到: 家庭法庭上的藐视法庭程序

执行赡养费令的其他方法也在我们的文章中讨论:法院命令不仅仅是一张纸,它可以对你执行!

结论

虽然婚姻已经不幸的结束,但孩子的福利和利益不应受到损害,必须成为双方的最大考虑。因此,为了孩子的利益,双方最好就孩子赡养费费达成和平协议。

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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