Children can sue parents to fund overseas uni education
This is in line with clause in Women's Charter, as shown in case of 22-year-old who sued dad
Children over the age of 21 can take their parents to court over refusal to support overseas university education.
This is in line with a clause in the Women's Charter which mandates payouts for education of children over 21 who are unable to support themselves.
The clause was recently highlighted by a 22-year-old successfully suing his father, the sole shareholder of a logistics company and director of various companies, for maintenance to fund his education abroad.
The 60-year-old father, who was given 10 days to pay the first instalment for his son's education in Canada, won a temporary reprieve on the enforcement order at a Family Court on Aug 21.
District Judge Suzanne Chin allowed the stay pending the outcome of his appeal against the maintenance order to fund his son's tertiary education.
The Family Court district judge at the time also ordered the boy's 54-year-old mother to pay 40 per cent of the required funds.
The case also highlighted the broader implications for parents with regard to their duty to pay for their children's overseas tertiary education.
Veteran family lawyer Rajan Chettiar said the Women's Charter provides for children to have the support of their parents up to the age of 21.
But the support may also go beyond the age of 21 "if, say, the child is still studying full time in tertiary education or in training that prepares them for work", he noted.
The court can also order maintenance if the adult child is mentally or physically disabled, serving full-time national service, is or will be receiving instruction at an educational establishment or undergoing training for a trade, profession or vocation.
Matrimonial and personal injury claims lawyer Seenivasan Lalita said parents are obliged to fund their children's education up to tertiary education or their first degree.
"If the child wishes to pursue further education, for example, take a second degree, master's or PhD, the court usually does not require parents to provide for it," she added.
Lawyer Koh Tien Hua, from Eversheds Harry Elias emphasised that the court takes into account the parent's means.
"If the parents can't afford the maintenance, whether by their earnings or from their share of the matrimonial assets, the court has discretion not to make an order," he said.
Lawyers say the clause is fair and reasonable.
"If the child is still studying or in training, he is not gainfully employed and financially cannot stand on his own two feet," said veteran criminal and family lawyer Amolat Singh.
"If he is unable to look to his parents for financial support, then he may be left in the lurch or buried under debt even before he has earned a cent. If the parents can afford to fund the studies, there is no reason why they shouldn't."
Lawyer Ivan Cheong, who specialises in matrimonial and family law at Eversheds Harry Elias, said the child does not need to be a Singaporean. But the court must be satisfied the parent the child is seeking maintenance from is in Singapore.