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Decision of the Singapore Court of Appeal – ANJ v ANK [2015] SGCA 34 

1. “Do not overcompensate or undercompensate a spouse’s indirect contribution”

2. “We are however cognisant that it is not uncommon for lower courts, in exercise of their discretion under s 112 of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353, 2009 Rev Ed) (“the WC”), to start from the proportions of the spouses’ financial contributions to the acquisition of matrimonial assets before adjusting those proportions by giving the spouse who had made more significant non-financial contributions an “uplift” (also known as a “mark-up” or “premium”) to those proportions. This court has on past occasions disapproved of the use of the “uplift” methodology as it is inconsistent with the rationale of the broad-brush approach as well as the underlying spirit of s 112 of the WC.”

3. “Interestingly, the present appeal highlighted another unsatisfactory aspect of the uplift approach but of the reverse kind. Not only does that approach carry with it the risk of undervaluing the homemaker’s indirect contributions, it could also cause an overvaluation of the homemaker’s indirect contributions. An example would best illustrate this. A decision to grant a wife, say for instance, a 5% uplift to what would have been a 50:50 ratio of direct contribution between both spouses translates into an actual uplift of 10%, as not only does the wife receive a 5% uplift, the court also deducts a 5% share from the husband. It defies logic why the husband should lose 5% just because the court intends to give the wife a 5% uplift. When the ratio becomes 45:55 in favour of the wife, the actual disparity is 10% and not 5%. In such an instance, the wife will be over-compensated for her indirect contribution. This was what happened in the present case. It will be recalled that on direct financial contributions the proportions between the Husband and Wife were 60:40 in favour of the Husband. The Judge gave a 20% uplift to the Wife for her indirect contributions. On this basis, the new proportions between the Husband and Wife should have been 60:60, which translates to an equal division between them. It must be borne in mind that, in that sense, the ratio for division does not necessarily have to add up to 100%. Instead the Judge gave the Wife an additional 20% and subtracted 20% from the Husband’s share, resulting in a 40:60 division against him. As a result there is double crediting of the Wife’s share of indirect contribution. This is the reverse form of risk which adopting the “uplift” approach could give rise to unless the “uplift” is applied in a manner to avoid double counting of the wife’s indirect contribution.”

The full text of the decision can be found here. For more information contact Singapore divorce or family lawyer Raphael Louis (Ray) or visit his website.