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The Maintenance of Parents Act allows Singapore residents aged 60 years and above - who are unable to provide for themselves - to claim maintenance from their children who are capable of supporting them, but are not doing so. Parents can claim maintenance, in the form of monthly allowances or a lump-sum payment.
You may access Singapore Statutes Online for the Maintenance of Parents Act and the Maintenance of Parents Rules.
The Commissioner of the Maintenance of Parents (CMP) will be doing more to help resolve maintenance disputes amicably.
In the spirit of preserving family ties, the Act will prioritise conciliation over legal action.
The changes were implemented with effect from 15 March 2011, after Parliament passed amendments to the Maintenance of Parents Bill in November 2010.
The Amendments Bill was tabled by Marine Parade MP Seah Kian Peng.
a) You will receive more help to resolve your maintenance issues with your children without having to file a Maintenance Order against them. The Commissioner will strive for conciliation and will only advise you to file your claim and redirect your case to the Tribunal as a last resort.
Previously, parents could choose to file a claim against their children directly with the Tribunal without trying conciliation.
b) You can achieve a written agreement for resolved cases. The maintenance agreement can be made into an enforceable Maintenance Order by the Tribunal, with the consent of both you and your children.
c) The Commissioner and Tribunal can get information from gazetted government agencies to assess if your children have the means to provide for you. The information accessed will be treated with confidentiality and will not be circulated without permission from you or your children.
d) Your children and you must attend conciliation sessions. You can make use of the sessions to work out issues and arrive at a settlement without legal action. Failure to appear for conciliation sessions may be taken into consideration by the Tribunal during the hearing of the maintenance application.
a) Up to four Deputy Presidents may be appointed to process cases faster. In the absence of the President, the Deputy Presidents may preside over Tribunal hearings, accompanied by two Tribunal members. More frequent hearings can help reduce the time taken for adjudication.
b) Multiple or vexatious claims can be dismissed. If claims are repeatedly made without sufficient grounds, the President and Deputy Presidents of the Tribunal may do away with a full Tribunal sitting if they decide to dismiss claims. This prevents abuse of the process by individuals who make multiple maintenance applications. Appeals against such decisions may be made to the full Tribunal.
c) Medical cost is now taken into consideration. The Tribunal takes into consideration the applicant's medical cost when deciding the amount of maintenance to be awarded.
To provide a safety net for needy and neglected parents who are unable to support themselves, then Nominated Member of Parliament Associate Professor Walter Woon proposed a bill in Parliament, on 23 May 1994 to enact the law for the maintenance of parents.
The move was met with varying opinions from the public and Members of Parliament.
After the Bill's second reading in July 1994, it was sent to an 11-member Select Committee. The Committee submitted its findings and amended Bill, with a key recommendation to set up a Tribunal to administer the law.
On 2 November, 1995, the Maintenance of Parents Bill was passed in Parliament.