Conciliation at the Commissioner's Office is the first step to resolving maintenance issues between parents and children.
A Conciliation Officer will go through the maintenance issues with the parent or representative of the parent. He will contact the children for conciliation when the parent wishes to do so. If the parent does not know where the children are, the Conciliation Officer will attempt to trace them. The parent may be referred to other agencies for assistance if the children cannot be traced for conciliation.
More than one session of conciliation may take place and separate sessions may be helpful if both parties do not wish to attend together. A joint session is meant to help both parties understand each other and work through their issues.
This may be the first time that the parent and children are hearing each other's side of the story. Hopefully, the children will realise that their parents need their help while the parents may understand that children have their own needs to meet too.
How long each case takes depends on how many children are involved and how complex the maintenance issues are. A simple case can be settled within a month, while a complex one may take up to 3 months. More time will be needed to locate long-lost children and get them to attend conciliation sessions.
If the parent and children manage to agree on an arrangement, they will sign a memorandum with the agreed terms, including the amount, date and mode of contribution. This can be made into an order endorsed by the Tribunal, if both parent and children decide to do so.
With an endorsed order, the parent can go to the Family Court if the child fails to keep to the agreement.
With an unendorsed agreement, the parent can file a formal claim at the Tribunal if the child fails to keep to the agreement.
To set an appointment for conciliation, you can contact the Office of the Commissioner for the Maintenance of Parents. Call 6471 6313 or email email@example.com.
1. What will happen to me if I do not respond to the Commissioner’s request to attend an interview?
You are required by law to attend conciliation at the Commissioner’s Office. It is important that you go through the conciliation process so the matter can be quickly resolved in an amicable manner. Refusal to attend conciliation will be taken into consideration if the parent eventually files a claim at the Tribunal.
Both parents and children are strongly encouraged to attend the conciliation sessions as more than 80% of the Commissioner’s cases are resolved this way.
2. I cannot afford to maintain my parents because of my low income. What should I do?
You can raise your concerns during the conciliation sessions. Generally, you should try to help your parent, even by giving a very small sum or providing some form of support. If you cannot support your parent fully, you will need to show how much you earn (by providing your latest pay slip or CPF statement of accounts) and work out your overall expenses to back your statement.
3. My grandparents or siblings were the ones who raised me. Can I refuse to maintain my parents?
You may find it difficult to maintain your parents if they did not do their part to raise you. However, children are generally expected to maintain their aged parents within their means, unless it can be shown that the parents do not deserve maintenance at all.
4. Am I still obliged to maintain my parents if we have publicly severed all ties in the newspapers?
Severing ties in such a manner does not mean you are no longer legally obliged to maintain your parents.