3 Common Financial Issues in Divorce in Singapore
Financial issues are a top concern for many people considering divorce in Singapore. Parties worry about how matrimonial assets will be divided, how their standard of living might change, the financial impact on their children, and the cost of the divorce itself. It can feel overwhelming. But with advance knowledge, preparation, and a good Singapore divorce lawyer, you can secure your financial interests and start your new life on the right foot.
To help set your expectations, below is a brief overview of common financial issues in divorce in Singapore.
1. Division of Assets in Singapore Divorce
In Singapore, matrimonial assets are defined by section 112(10) of the Women’s Charter.
Such assets include:
- any assets acquired during the marriage,
- any assets acquired before the marriage but were used by both parties as shelter or family purposes during the marriage,
- any assets acquired before the marriage but were improved upon by the other party or both parties during the marriage.
Common marital assets usually include the matrimonial home, family cars, cash savings, shares, businesses, and jewelry. Items such as inheritances or gifts to one party are not usually considered marital assets unless substantially improved upon during the marriage.
The Family Court has the discretion to divide any contested marital assets in “just and equitable” manner. In so doing, courts consider several factors, including each party’s financial contribution toward the assets, the non-financial contributions each party made toward the family’s welfare, the needs of the children, and any agreement the parties made regarding the distribution of the assets. The length of the marriage and the size of the assets also play a significant role in determining the most equitable resolution.
Courts decide on the division of assets on an individual basis, taking into account the nuances and circumstances of each family. Recent court decisions have shown that being a homemaker will not necessarily count less than being the breadwinner when it comes to family contributions and the division of assets determination. Your divorce lawyer can help you assess how a court may regard your particular situation.
2. Child Maintenance in Singapore
Whether married or divorced, parents in Singapore are obligated to financially support their children until they reach the age of 21–and under certain circumstances, even longer. Parents who have guardianship or custody of their child are entitled to apply for reasonable child maintenance during the divorce process or by filing a Magistrate’s Complaint, if you haven’t yet begun divorce proceedings.
The court will consider the factors set forth in section 69(4) of the Women’s Charter to determine whether to grant child maintenance. These include, among other things:
- the financial needs of the child,
- the income, possible earning capacity, property and other financial resources of the other parent or child,
- whether the child is physically or mentally disabled,
- the standard of living the child enjoyed during the marriage
- education both parties expected for the child during the marriage.
If the court decides child maintenance is appropriate, it may order either a monthly payment or lump sum. Neither party is definitively locked into this agreement: a party may apply for a variation of the maintenance order if there’s a change in the material circumstances of a party or another good reason to increase or decrease the payment.
If your spouse fails to make the payments as ordered, you may apply to the Family Justice Courts to receive maintenance arrears. A good divorce lawyer can help you with any step in the application process.
3. Spousal maintenance in Singapore
A wife or incapacitated husband is entitled to apply for spousal maintenance under section 69 of the Women’s Charter. In determining whether spousal support is appropriate, the court will take the same factors into account as those considered when determining child maintenance.
Because the purpose of spousal support is to help a spouse “get on his or her feet” in the aftermath of the divorce, the applicant is typically expected to seek gainful employment to support him or herself, if possible. If the receiving spouse is unlikely to find employment that would allow him or her to continue the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, the court will consider such factors.