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: -
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  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.
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