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Division of Matrimonial Assets

Division of Matrimonial Assets

Often, a critical part of divorce proceedings is the division of matrimonial assets. 

This article will look at how the Court determines whether an asset is considered a matrimonial asset and offer a simplified explanation of the mechanics of division. 

Matrimonial assets are assets: -

  • acquired by one or both parties during marriage, 
  • used or enjoyed by parties or children during marriage, and
  • substantially improved during the marriage by the other party. 

Gifts or inheritance that have not been substantially improved during marriage by the other party will usually not be deemed a matrimonial asset. However, the best way to safeguard inheritance is to expressly declare one’s intention against division and keep it separate. 

Examples: In Singapore’s context, matrimonial assets would include the parties’ family home and car, joint savings, CPF funds and other jointly purchased investments and items.

In division, the Court is guided by the overarching principle of what is just and equitable in the circumstances for the parties. There is a different yardstick for long marriages as compared to a short, childless one. 

For long marriages, the case law of TNL v TNK [2016] SGHCF 8 is instructive where it states that the starting point for division is equal division unless there are good reasons for departing from it.

Generally, in TNL V TNK, the Court has adopted a structured approach, simplified as follows*:- 

1. Parties’ matrimonial assets are pooled together

All the assets of the parties are listed and valued. For e.g., total value of matrimonial assets is $1 million.

2. Direct financial contributions (DFC) of each party are expressed as a ratio. 

E.g., Husband vs Wife = 70% : 30%
DFC includes initial downpayments, mortgage payments (cash /CPF) 

3. Indirect financial contributions (IDFC) and non-financial contributions (IDC) of each party are expressed as a ratio. 

E.g., Husband vs Wife = 20% : 80%

IDFC includes renovation, payments of utilities, taxes and other expenses.

IDC includes parties’ contribution towards raising children, doing household chores etc.

4. The average of the ratios is used to obtain the final ratio for division of the pooled matrimonial assets and make adjustments, if necessary.

Average for Husband = (70 + 20)% / 2 = 45%

Average for Wife = (30 + 80)% / 2 = 55%

For $1 million worth of matrimonial assets:

Husband’s share = $450,000

Wife’s share = $550,000  

Every family situation is different and the above approach may not apply to you. To protect your interests, speak to one of our lawyers. At Grace Law LLC, we specialise in family litigation and offer practical and holistic solutions not available elsewhere. 

Call Grace Law LLC at 6220 6364 or drop us an emails at today!

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Grace Law LLC