Division of Matrimonial Assets
The Women’s Charter Section 112 empowers the court ‘to order the division between the parties of any matrimonial asset… in such proportions as the court thinks just and equitable’.
What are matrimonial assets?
Matrimonial assets are assets of any nature acquired during the marriage by one party or both parties. If an asset is acquired prior to marriage, it will not be considered a matrimonial asset unless:
- It has been ordinarily used or enjoyed by both parties or by one or more of their children during the marriage
- It has been substantially improved during the marriage by the other party or both parties
However, an asset acquired by way of gift or inheritance is not classified as a matrimonial asset unless:
- It becomes used as the matrimonial home
- It has been substantially improved during the marriage by both parties to the marriage or by the other party.
In spite of the above, gifts from one spouse to another are considered matrimonial assets.
Factors the Court takes into consideration when making a decision
Consideration based solely on the proportion of financial contribution by individual parties alone is insufficient. The reality of a marriage is that each party will make contributions to the marriage in both monetary and non-monetary terms. While there is no set formula for calculating and dividing matrimonial assets, matrimonial assets, some factors that the Courts take into consideration include:
- The length of the marriage
- The financial needs of each party
- The extent of the monetary contributions made by each party
- Any debt owing or obligations undertaken by either party for their joint benefit or for any child of the marriage
- The needs of the children
- The extent of the contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family
- Any agreement between parties with respect to the ownership and division of matrimonial assets made in contemplation of divorce
- Any period of rent-free occupation or other benefit enjoyed by one party in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party
- The assistance or support given by one party to the other
The factors set out above are not exhaustive. The aim of the court is to use a ‘broad strokes’ approach to the exercise of its power to reach a fair and reasonable division of the assets between the spouses. As such, the courts will give regard to ‘all facts and circumstances of the case’.
For more information contact Singapore divorce or family lawyer Raphael Louis (Ray) or visit his website at www.raylouis.com.sg