Parliament revised a colonial-era law that capped child support just K100. Now, husbands sued for alimony will be liable for monthly payments of K50,000 per child and may also be ordered to financially support their ex-wives.
Lawmakers and women’s rights advocates have welcomed the change.
“These laws have not been enforced for at least 20 years, so amending the legislation is helpful for women, lawyers and judges,” said U Soe Hlaing, attorney at Hlaing International Law Firm.
Family lawyers have long called for an overhaul of outdated sections 488 and 489 of the Criminal Code, which deal with child support and financial obligations after divorce. Under previous laws, enacted in 1898, divorced single mothers had to sue their ex-husbands in order to obtain, at most, payments of 100K. even ask for alimony.
“According to the amendments to this law, a judge can order a man who has sufficient means to pay a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his wife and children – although women who do not request it will continue to receive 100 000K as helper,” U Soe said Hlaing.
The new law, approved by the hluttaw on January 20, allows children to continue to receive financial assistance until the age of 18, and ex-wives can receive financial assistance until they remarry.
Ma Yi Thu, a recently divorced mother, said the newly approved amount would allow her to feed and clothe her son.
“I spend K20,000 on my son every month,” she said.
According to a report by the Gender Equality Network, customary laws governing marriage, divorce and child custody in Myanmar are not suitable for contemporary application and, as they are based on Buddhist laws, are in many cases discriminatory .
Previously, the law did not oblige the court to consider alimony after the divorce of a couple with children, but only granted the possibility of intervening on request. The network recommended strengthening child support legislation by recognizing that both parents are responsible for the well-being of their children.