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HOW ARE MATRIMONIAL ASSETS DIVIDED?

To determine how matrimonial assets are divided, the Singapore courts have consistently stated that they will take a ‘broad brush’ approach to achieve a “just and equitable” division.

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matrimonial assets Singapore - image of house being split between man and woman

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How are matrimonial assets divided in Singapore? The law on the division of matrimonial assets in Singapore is fairly entrenched and established.  The Singapore courts have consistently opined that a ‘broad brush’ approach will be used to achieve a “just and equitable” division.

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How are matrimonial assets divided? The law on division of matrimonial assets Singapore

The duty of the court in the division of matrimonial assets is to consider all the circumstances of the case.  In particular, the Family Court must take into account the following factors provided in s 112(2) of the Women’s Charter:

 .(a) the extent of the contributions made by each party in money, property or work towards acquiring, improving or maintaining the matrimonial assets;

(b) any debt owing or obligation incurred or undertaken by either party for their joint benefit or the benefit of any child of the marriage;

(c) the needs of the children (if any) of the marriage;

(d) the extent of the contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home or caring for the family or any aged or infirm relative or dependent of either party;

(e) any agreement between the parties with respect to the ownership and division of the matrimonial assets made in contemplation of divorce;

(f) any period of rent-free occupation or other benefit enjoyed by one party in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party;

(g) the giving of assistance or support by one party to the other party (whether or not of a material kind), including the giving of assistance or support which aids the other party in the carrying on of his or her occupation or business; and

(h) the matters referred to in s 114(1) so far as they are relevant.

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“Broad brush approach” – Court will not examine every single minute transaction

The above factors are non-exhaustive, and a wide discretion is conferred upon the court to achieve a just and equitable division of the matrimonial assets (see Tan Hwee Lee v Tan Cheng Guan [2012] 4 SLR 785 at [41]).

The court will not go into a minute examination of assets or spending.  A “broad brush” approach that considers both financial and non-financial contributions will be used to achieve a just and equitable division of matrimonial assets.  Therefore, this does not mean that the court will meticulously investigate every minute sum each party has paid or incurred. Ultimately, the broad-brush approach is “about feel and the court’s sense of justice”.

In deciding how are matrimonial assets divided, the courts will recognise both parties’ contributions to the marriage.  The contributions can be financial or non-financial.  It is thus important that you substantiate your financial and non-financial contributions to the family if you are litigating over the division of matrimonial assets.

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RELATED ARTICLES:

Division of assets – what it means for single-income and double-income families

Dorothy Tan wins landmark Court of Appeal decision on division of matrimonial assets

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