The division of matrimonial assets in Singapore during a divorce is a complex and sometimes contentious process. Contrary to common misconception, the Court does not by default assume equal contributions from both parties during the marriage; hence, one party may end up with a larger share than the other.
Matrimonial assets can include properties, shares, savings, businesses, jewellery, vehicles, and funds in the couple’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts.
How does the Court divide these assets? Let us break down key aspects you need to know, including what constitutes a matrimonial asset, as well as the factors considered in dividing them.
When it comes to the division of matrimonial assets during a divorce, various factors are considered to ensure a fair and equitable distribution that aligns with the unique circumstances of each case. The following factors are considered:
The Court will look at whether the marriage is a long or short one.
In cases of long marriages, the division tends to hover at equal division or at a 10% deviation from equality. More weight will be given to one’s indirect contributions, e.g., if you are a homemaker spouse, you may get 35-45%, sometimes even 50%, despite the fact that you as the homemaker spouse have not made any financial contribution.
On the other hand, in short marriages, the division of matrimonial assets will be based mainly on direct financial contributions, particularly when the couple do not have any children.
The Court strives to ensure that the needs of children and their wellbeing are met. This includes the need for the children to have a proper place to stay, which factors into the determination of property and care and custody.
In cases where one spouse has failed to carry out his/her role as a husband/wife or as a parent, the other party gets a bigger share or the majority of matrimonial assets.
One party's gross misconduct can impact the division of matrimonial assets, such as poisoning one’s spouse. Conduct like alcoholism or adultery generally will not reduce the guilty party’s share of the assets.
In order to come up with a just and equitable division of matrimonial assets, the Court follows a structured manner, which includes the following:
In some circumstances, the Court will provide equal emphasis on the financial and non-financial contribution of the parties. Here are some guidelines:
No, the Court will divide your matrimonial assets in a just and equitable manner. Factors such as the length of marriage, needs of children, total failure of one spouse in carrying out his/her role, and gross misconduct, will affect the division of assets.
No, you cannot unless the other party agrees.
The Court will penalise that party for not providing a full and frank disclosure of his or her assets.
No, if you take steps to dissipate your assets in anticipation of a divorce, the Court can order that the assets be ‘returned’ to the matrimonial pool for division.
Yes, if both parties agree.
Yes, in cases of short marriages with no children, direct contributions will be given more weight in the division of matrimonial assets.
No, gifts and inheritance are not matrimonial assets to be split.
No, whilst the gifts cannot be returned, they can be included in the matrimonial pool for division.
No, because the wife bought the lottery with the hope that she can afford her own car.
Please contact our team of experienced family lawyers in Singapore if you need advice on how to divide your assets in the event of a divorce.