Before the Court can make a decision on the division of matrimonial assets in Singapore, the Court must first determine which asset falls within the definition of matrimonial assets under the Women’s Charter.
Definition of Matrimonial Assets in Singapore
Under Section 112(10)(1) of the Women’s Charter, matrimonial asset is defined as:
1. An asset acquired during the marriage by one or both parties.
2. Assets used by the parties and/ or their children for purposes such as accommodation and transport.
3. Assets acquired before the marriage by one party but substantially improved by the other party.
Some common examples of matrimonial assets include:
1. Matrimonial home.
2. Family car.
3. Company shares.
4. Bank accounts.
5. CPF monies.
6. Valuables such as jewelleries.
The following assets are not matrimonial assets:
1. Assets received as gifts or inheritance by one party which are not substantially improved by the other party.
Division of Matrimonial Assets in Singapore
After the matrimonial assets are identified, the next question is how should the assets be divided.
The Court will arrive at a total nett value of the assets (i.e. market value less outstanding loan) before dividing the value between the parties. The Court takes into account the following factors in deciding the proportion that each party will receive.
Parties’ Financial Contributions
The Court will consider how much financial contributions the parties made towards acquiring, maintaining and improving the assets.
Parties’ Non-Financial Contributions to the Welfare of the Family
Who does the housework at home? Who looks after the children at home? Is there any support given by one party towards the career of the other party?
In making its decision, the Court will consider such non-financial contributions so as to give weight to non-financial efforts of the parties.
Is there any debt owed by one party for the joint benefit of the parties or for the child’s benefit? Such “sacrifice” will be given weight in the division of matrimonial assets in Singapore.
Needs of the Children of the Marriage
If one party has care and control of the children of the marriage, the Court will need to consider the practical aspects of providing a roof over the heads of the children and may make necessary adjustments towards the division of matrimonial assets.
Structured Approach to Division of Matrimonial Assets
A structured approach to the division of matrimonial assets was laid out by the Court of Appeal in the case of ANJ v ANK. The Court prescribed 2 ratios:
1. 1 ratio for parties’ direct financial contributions towards the matrimonial assets.
2. 1 ratio for parties’ indirect financial contributions (such as contributions to household expenses) and non-financial contributions towards the marriage.
Thereafter, the ratios are averaged out to form the basis of the proportion of division of matrimonial assets.
An example will look like this:
|Spouse A||Spouse B|
|Direct Financial Contributions||60%||40%|
|Indirect Financial Contributions and Non-Financial contributions||40%||60%|
The assumption is that both ratios start off on an equal footing. This differs from the old approach where parties’ financial contributions are given more weight, thus neglecting the efforts of homemakers. However, in some circumstances, the weight of the ratios could be adjusted. For instance, in a very short, childless marriage where parties’ non-financial contributions are insignificant, their direct financial contributions will be given more weight.
Similarly, if the size of matrimonial assets is very large and they are accumulated because of the efforts of one party, direct financial contributions may be given more weight.
Conversely, if the marriage is long and one party stayed home as a homemaker for a substantially long period, making great sacrifices to raise the family, adjustments may be made to give more weight to non-financial contributions.
The unique facts of each case are considered before the Court arrives at a final decision on the division of matrimonial assets in Singapore.
Failure to Disclose Matrimonial Assets
If you have good reasons to suspect that your spouse is not being truthful in disclosing all of his/ her assets, you may make an application for discovery (requiring him/ her to disclose more financial documents) or an application for interrogatories (requiring him/ her to disclose more information).
If the Court finds that there is no full and frank disclosure from parties on the matrimonial assets, the Courts may grant you a higher proportion of the matrimonial assets.
After the grant of the Interim Judgment, the Court will fix a date for the pre-trial conference. If there is a possibility that the matter may be resolved amicably, the Court may direct that parties attend mediation.
Otherwise, the Court will direct for parties to prepare their Affidavit of Assets and Means (i.e. a document to disclose financial documents and information).
Parties will also be given the opportunity to make applications for discoveries and interrogatories (see above) and reply to each other’s Affidavit of Assets and Means.
Subsequently, directions will be given for parties to prepare their written submissions (applying legal arguments to the facts of their case) and attend an ancillary matters’ hearing for the Court to make a final decision on the division of matrimonial assets.
If you have more questions on division of matrimonial assets in Singapore, you may wish to contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp).
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