For both parties, divorce is never pleasant. The decision to legally end the marriage means that there has been a breakdown in the union and the relationship can no longer be mended.
As such there are and will be physical, emotional, as well as financial repercussions that will come along with it.
The division of matrimonial assets is one of the more meticulous aspects of this legal proceeding. The court dividing the assets in a “just and equitable manner” as stated in Singapore law requires quite a number of factors to consider.
What Are Matrimonial Assets?
The most common definition of matrimonial assets is
properties that are acquired, by one or both parties, within the period of marriage.
These are the assets that were used or enjoyed by the couple and/or their children while living together within the bounds of marriage.
Generally, assets acquired by one party or both parties before marriage cannot be up for division.
However, if a party can prove that the said gift or inheritance has been substantially improved during the marital period or if the gift or inheritance is in fact their matrimonial home, then this will be subject to division between parties.
Usual assets that will be divided upon the dissolution of marriage include: cars, shares, savings, jewelry, insurance, businesses, and cash balance in the couple’s Central Provident Fund accounts.
Deciding on the Division
Out-of-court settlements for the division of matrimonial assets can be done during an Ancillary Matters Pre-Trial Conference.
This allows both parties to amicably reach a consensus without opening the hearing to the public. However, if no settlement is reached, a contested ancillary matters hearing will be held in the Family Court; or, in cases where the net value of the matrimonial assets is more than S$1.5 million, the case will be taken to the High Court.
Either way, the Court will have to rule to get a just and equitable division.
Following are some of the factors the Court has to take into account in order to reach a proper decision:
1. Extent of contributions made by each party
This includes both direct, meaning financial, and indirect, meaning non-financial contributions.
Indirect contributions may include the maintenance done to the property; taking care of the household, family, aged or disabled relative; and providing support that allowed the other party to pursue and continue his/her business or occupation.
If the marriage is short-lived, direct contributions play a major factor because there has been little time to contribute indirectly. However, for long marriages, indirect contributions can be a big determining factor in dividing the assets.
2. Needs of the children of the marriage
Who will have custody of the children can also influence the Court’s decision.
3. Any agreement between parties
This pertains to any agreement made in relation to the ownership and division of matrimonial properties upon divorce. A pre-nuptial agreement is one such sample.
4. Financial standing after divorce
The court will likewise look into the needs, obligations, and responsibilities of the parties in terms of finances as well as their working abilities and qualifications that will determine their financial standing after the divorce.
Once the court has examined and considered all factors, the totaled financial contributions of both parties for each asset will then be computed to account for the percentage of their financial contributions for the entire matrimonial assets.
Afterwards, the court may issue one or more of the following orders:
- Selling of any matrimonial assets with the proceeds to be divided
- Vesting of any matrimonial asset or any part thereof in either party
- Postponement of sale or vesting of any share in any matrimonial asset until the fulfillment of specified terms
- Granting one party to personally occupy the matrimonial home for a period the court deems fit
- Paying of a sum of money by one party to the other
To assist any party during the entire process and to ensure a just and equitable division, the services of an experienced divorce lawyer is essential.
Our lawyers are among the finest in Singapore whose background and experience provide clients with sound legal advice and top-notch service.
Contact us today, and together, we can conclude the legal proceedings the soonest time possible so you can start moving forward.