Presently, all parties’ information on their assets and means is not readily available or disclosed during the enforcement process.
The MINLAW and MSF reiterated that without such essential information, it may be difficult to know between parties who cannot pay for maintenance and those who refuse to pay.
They added that if a respondent is genuinely unable to pay, the applicant’s repeated enforcement attempts would be futile.
Also, the current enforcement process is very time-consuming and resource-intensive for all involved parties, particularly those without the means to hire a lawyer.
With the new process, “those who refuse to pay maintenance will be dealt with more decisively, while those who cannot pay will be channelled to appropriate assistance, and more sustainable maintenance arrangements can be considered”, as per the MINLAW and MSF.
The new proposed process of enforcement of family maintenance payments aims to simplify application with several new measures, including the proposed formation of a unit of maintenance enforcement officers.
The said officers would be given the authority to help in the enforcement process through the following:
- Obtaining necessary information about a defending spouse’s assets and means straight from government agencies, banks, and the Central Depository to identify the financial circumstances of involved parties.
- Referring defending spouses to appropriate financial assistance and other kinds of support to help with maintenance payments if they are struggling financially.
- Conducting a conciliation process to assist divorced spouses reach an amicable out-of-court settlement, or come up with favourable solutions to help facilitate a maintenance payment agreement.