In this 3-part series, we take a look at some of the frequently asked questions that we hear from our readers and answered by matrimonial lawyers, Dorothy Chai and Chong Yue-En from Dorothy Chai and Mary Ong Law Practice. In the last part of this series, the lawyers answer questions relating to assets and maintenance.
#3 Asset Division
Question 1: How will assets be divided during divorce proceedings?
Yue-En – To answer this question, we have to understand the term “assets” and then the division of assets.
Matrimonial assets refer to assets acquired during the course of the marriage from the beginning to the end of the marriage. The end date could be the separation date, date of the court hearing or when the divorce papers are filed on a case by case basis. Such assets include the matrimonial home, investment properties, CPF monies, bank account, investment funds, stocks and shares, cars, or even wine or art collection.
As for assets acquired before marriage, for example, a property your husband purchased in his sole name before marriage, if you can prove that the property has been enjoyed by you and/or your family during the course of the marriage, this will transform this asset into a matrimonial asset.
Division of assets
For the division of assets, we look at the following main points:
- Direct financial contribution – monies you paid towards the acquisition of the asset, improvement of the asset, renovations, fixtures (as when you shift out of the house and the fixtures still remain in the house).
- Indirect financial contribution – Marriage is a collaboration of 2 people. If you are a homemaker and you stay at home to take care of the house and children so that the husband can focus on his career, this is recognised and the court does take this into consideration when deciding on the division of assets.
The main principle of assets division is the just and equitable division. On top of the above points, the court also looks at the needs of a child, such as the child needing a roof over his head.
Dorothy – I would sum it up into three factors – direct financial contribution, indirect financial contribution, and indirect non-financial contribution.
Direct financial contributions
The cost of the property is $1 million and your husband paid $700,000 while you paid $300,000. In percentage terms, the husband receives 70% while the wife receives 30%.
However, you can increase your share using the indirect financial contribution and/or indirect non-financial contribution.
Indirect financial contribution
This is where whilst your husband may have used his money to pay for the house, you had used your money to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the house, payment for the renovation, furniture, fixtures, and fitting of the house, clothes, groceries etc. In such an event, you can ask the court to take this into consideration and increase your share of the assets.
Indirect non-financial contribution
This is what Yue-En had mentioned earlier about homemakers. The court is of the view that marriage is a partnership. It could be that you are a homemaker taking care of the family and house while your husband focuses on his career.
The court will look at all these factors together and decide on a percentage.
Question 2: What about HDB flat if I am under 35 years old?
Yue-En – If you are above 35 years old, then you can keep the flat under the Singles scheme. However, if you are below 35 years old, then you will need to be able to form a family nucleus which could be one of the following:
- You and your child
- You and your parent
- You and your sibling
- You and your new spouse/ fiancee
Have a question on Family Law?
Get a quick consult from Yue-En or other lawyers with similar expertise for your questions on family law. You can expect a call back from the lawyers within 1-2 days, to give you practical legal advice, all for a transparent, flat fee starting at S$49. Alternatively, you may also wish to request a quotation from Dorothy Chai.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to a practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.