Lie Chin Chin

Division of Matrimonial Assets in Divorce Proceedings

In granting a divorce, judicial separation or annulment of marriage, the Court may order a division between the parties of anything that is considered a “matrimonial asset”. You may be concerned about whether you will get to keep a family heirloom that your parents gave you, or whether you will be able to get a fair share of the house that you painstakingly contributed to. This article will serve to inform you on what you are generally entitled to when matrimonial assets are divided.

What are matrimonial assets?

 

Matrimonial assets are any assets acquired during a marriage by one or both parties to the marriage. It also includes any asset acquired before the marriage by one or both parties to the marriage as long as:

  1. It was ordinarily used or enjoyed by you and your spouse or one or more of your children while you and your spouse resided together, or
  2. It was substantially improved during your marriage by the other party or both parties to the marriage.

Matrimonial assets exclude any asset that is not a matrimonial home that was a gift or the inheritance of one party, if it was not substantially improved during the marriage by the other party or by both parties to the marriage.

What does the Court look at when dividing these matrimonial assets during divorce?

 

When ordering a division of matrimonial assets, the Court considers various factors. It divides assets according to what is “just and equitable”, considering all the circumstances of the case. There is no presumption that matrimonial assets will be divided 50% – 50%. You will have to show that certain factors are in your favour in order to get a higher proportion of assets. Factors that may affect the division of assets include:

  1. Substantial financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage and/or the family;

    These include contributions made towards deposit and mortgage repayments for the matrimonial home, contributions to household expenses, assisting or supporting your spouse, looking after the home, and caring for the family.

  2. Any debts or obligations that you took on for the benefit of your spouse or the child(ren) of the marriage;
  3. The needs of the child(ren) of the marriage;
  4. Any period of rent-free occupation that one party enjoyed in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party;
  5. Any agreement between parties relating to the matrimonial assets made in contemplation of divorce; and
  6. Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties of the marriage.

Is there any way I can protect certain assets before the Court divides them?

 

If you and your spouse do not want the Court to decide on the division of your assets , you may come to your own agreement on the division of assets via negotiation or mediation. By consent, this agreement can be recorded in an Order of Court.

The Singapore Court’s Formula for Division of Matrimonial Assets

 

The Court of Appeal pronounced a formula for the division of matrimonial assets in the case ANJ v ANK [2015] SGCA 35. The Court decided on a structured approach towards the division of matrimonial assets that is consistent with the Court’s broad discretionary powers. The Court aims to give due and sufficient recognition to each party’s contribution towards the marriage without overcompensating or undercompensating for indirect contributions.

 

The Court also has the discretionary power to draw adverse inferences against any party who has failed to make full and frank disclosure of the matrimonial assets and such party may correspondingly receive a lower proportion of the known assets

 

You may wish to engage the services of an experienced divorce lawyer in Singapore to help you get a fair division of matrimonial assets in divorce proceedings.

 

If you have other questions about filing for divorce in Singapore, you may read up more about it here.

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