When relationships turn sour, couples find themselves nitpicking on every small thing. This is especially so during a divorce. The vows that they had once made to love each other for richer or poorer just disappear. They start digging out all their financial documents to show who made the payment, when the payment was made and for what purpose.
The financial documents are important documents during the second stage of the divorce proceedings. The second stage of the divorce in Singapore deals with the ancillary matters (i.e. division of assets, custody issues and maintenance). In today’s article, we focus on the division of matrimonial assets.
The common misconception about the division of matrimonial assets is that the wife gets half. This is wrong!
The Family Justice Courts (FJC) in Singapore are fair and just when it comes to dividing the matrimonial assets. However, before we divide, we must first ask: what are matrimonial assets?
Matrimonial assets are simply assets that either party or both parties acquired during the course of marriage. Examples of matrimonial assets are monies in the bank accounts, CPF monies, property and investments. Where the assets were acquired before marriage, one should ask if these assets have been improved in the course of the marriage (or used as a matrimonial home). If so, then these assets also become matrimonial assets that are divisible during divorce.
Now that you know what constitutes matrimonial assets, let’s talk about how they are divided.
Since 2016, the Court has adopted “the structured approach” for the purposes of obtaining a fair and equitable division: ANJ v ANK  SGCA 34. This structured approach requires the Court to consider two things: (1) Direct contributions and (2) Indirect contributions.
For direct contributions, parties will have to show how much they have contributed towards the acquisition of any matrimonial property. This is not always complicated as most of us use CPF monies to purchase home. You can easily obtain your CPF records via the CPF portal.
Where complications arise, they usually concern the cash payments made towards matrimonial property. A lack of evidence often makes things worse.
For indirect contributions, parties will need to show who paid for the household expenses and the types of care they have provided for the family. However, functional parties in a marriage generally do not keep a record of such things. The Court knows this and applies a broad-brush approach to determining contributions. What this means is that the Court will consider the facts as an approximate whole instead of calculating everything down to the last cent or second.
The Court will then take the average between the ratios ascribed to both direct and indirect contributions to determine the equitable division.
As this area of law can be complicated for a layperson, it is advisable that you consult an experienced lawyer to assist you. Contact us at +65 6970 8287 for a free 30-minute consultation on the divorce process.