Financial Help For Single Mothers – Being a parent and raising a family can be one of the greatest blessings a person can experience, but it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. This challenge is compounded especially when single mothers in Singapore need a single parent.
This article sets out 4 legal barriers single mothers currently face in Singapore and suggests what can be done to overcome them.
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Before going into these barriers, it is important to note that there are at least 3 types of single mothers, namely:
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It’s important to consider these categories because the perks of being a single mother (and the challenges that come with it) depend on which category you fall into.
The following chart is a quick summary of legal hurdles that single mothers in Singapore may face but can overcome. You can click on it to download in a new tab.
1. Restrictions on public housing Unmarried single mothers cannot buy HDB flats until the age of 35.
One of the biggest hurdles single mothers face is accessing public housing in Singapore. This is because housing policies implemented by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) now show strategies to encourage Singaporeans to marry before having children.
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To be eligible to buy an HDB Build-to-Order (BTO) flat under the HDB General Scheme, one must create a family structure as follows:
As single mothers with children are not recognized as separate families, they cannot purchase new HDB flats under the social scheme. So, if you are a single mother, you will be eligible to buy a resale flat under the singles scheme only after the age of 35 years.
If you are divorced or a widowed mother with a child under the age of 18, you are eligible for the assistance scheme, where 2 and 3 bedroom flats in older properties are earmarked for easy relocation after you. Divorce (if applicable).
After divorce, divorcees can become subsidized homeowners as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.
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Parental Temporary Housing Scheme (PPHS) is for divorced or widowed mothers who have applied for BTO flat and are still waiting to complete their flat and have no other accommodation options. Under this scheme, divorced or widowed mothers, along with their children, can rent a flat for up to 3 years till their BTO is ready.
HDB reserves public rental housing for widows and divorced parents with a gross household income of no more than US$1,500.
However, qualifying for this program can be very difficult because, in reality, $1,500 may be too little to support a family if you have two or more children, but income above this amount already disqualifies you for public rent. houses.
And this is only for divorced or widowed mothers. If you are a single mother, you must first apply with your parents to qualify for the Public Rent Scheme.
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Another important concern for any single mother is how to make ends meet. Parental financial constraints begin at conception, and costs increase as the child is born and grows.
Although all single mothers in Singapore are entitled to maternity leave regardless of their nationality, there is a 4-week difference in the amount of leave they can receive depending on the status of their children.
If the child is Singaporean, single mothers are entitled to the Government’s Paid Maternity Leave (GPML) scheme, which allows up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave if the following conditions are met:
If the child is not Singaporean, single mothers can only get 12 weeks of maternity leave instead of 16 weeks. However, they are subject to the Employment Act (LA) and have served their employer continuously for 3 months immediately preceding the birth of the child.
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If the mother has less than 2 children with her during maternity leave and has given the required 1-week notice to the employer before going on maternity leave, the employer will pay for the first 8 weeks of maternity leave. The last 4 weeks of maternity leave is unpaid unless it is unfortunately specified in your employment contract.
Single mothers are not eligible for a one-time gift of the enhanced bonus amount, which is $8,000 for a first or second child or $10,000 for subsequent children.
Although single mothers are not eligible for the increased child bonus, there are two additional child bonuses they can receive:
It is important to note that any mother, whether married or single, can use the Child Bonus only for approved expenses such as education and healthcare expenses of the children.
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Although the policy is aimed at helping the child directly, single mothers cannot use the Child Bonus for other day-to-day living expenses. Consequently, the extent to which the child bonus helps single mothers survive.
3. Inheritance Bars Unmarried mothers must make a will or confirm their children to inherit.
Some harsh realities come with celibacy in Singapore, such as a child’s right to inherit the property of one of the unmarried parents.
Son Family Law defines a child, for eligibility purposes, as a legitimate child (born in lawful wedlock) or a legally adopted child.
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As a result, children of unmarried mothers, if they have legitimate children, are not entitled to share in their mother’s property unless the mother makes a valid will. This is because his legitimate children will have priority over illegitimate children in inheritance.
Illegitimate children have equal hereditary status with illegitimate children only if the mother adopts them or marries the child’s other parent to legitimize the child. In this regard, mothers of children born out of wedlock (i.e. single mothers) are advised to make a valid will to ensure their child’s right to inherit in case of future mishaps.
In Singapore, each parent is legally obligated to maintain or support their child until they reach the age of 21. But single mothers or married mothers in the divorce process have an added challenge when their partners refuse to share the work.
In this case, the single mother may request child support from the other parent, and the court may order the child support to be paid in monthly payments or in a lump sum.
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However, divorcing parents may agree to divide the support and custody of the children involved during the divorce proceedings. It should be noted that courts will carefully consider these agreements and will not hesitate to refuse to recognize an agreement that does not adequately support a child.
If the other parent refuses to accept the support order issued by the court, the single mother can apply to the family justice courts to enforce the order.
If you are a single mother, there are resources in Singapore that can help you continue to raise your family. First, the Association for Women in Action and Research (AWARENESS) has a free legal clinic that provides legal aid to single mothers. AWARE can also support you with other personal issues related to raising a family in Singapore.
The Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations (SCWO) can provide parenting skills training to help new single mothers with financial and related barriers.
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As you navigate the challenges of being a single mother, it’s best to contact one of our attorneys for legal advice. With the right support and advocacy groups for single mothers in Singapore, the challenges that come with raising a family as a mother need not be so difficult.
Hannah Kayla Garcia (J.) was also a Top Leader of the Day at the 49th Symposium in St. Gallen, Switzerland, where she was awarded a paper on Developing a Rights-Based Business Model for Impact Investing.
The information provided is not legal advice. You should seek the legal advice of an attorney before taking any legal action. Although every attempt is made to ensure the accuracy of the information