This article provides details on the filing of an Affidavit of Assets and Means (or AM affidavit for short) as well as the actions that can be taken if a party does not fully disclose their assets in their AM affidavits.
What is an AM Affidavit?
An AM affidavit is an affidavit (or sworn statement) that sets out information on a party’s assets, means (income), expenses, and liabilities. As this is the appropriate juncture for Parties to tell the Court what it is that they want following the divorce, the AM affidavit also sets out a party’s position, their reasons for the same including their respective contributions to the family.
After filing their AM affidavits, Parties will get an opportunity to respond to the other party’s AM affidavit.
The information in the AM affidavits will assist the Court in understanding Parties’ financial circumstances, what their positions are, as well as their reasons behind their respective positions – and use the information in coming to a determination on the ancillary issues i.e. child-care arrangements following the divorce, division of matrimonial home and assets, spousal maintenance, maintenance for the child(ren), etc.
What information will an AM affidavit contain?
Parties must disclose the following information in their AM affidavits:
- Details of their minor children (if any)
- Their occupation, income and other work particulars
- If they have any additional sources of income, and if so, the details for the same
- All assets which are in their possession (in Singapore or overseas) including:
- Motor vehicles
- Insurance policies
- Investments ie. shares, unit trusts, etc.
- Bank accounts (sole and joint)
- Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies
- Any liabilities which they may have
- A list of their personal monthly expenses
- A list of the monthly expenses for any minor child(ren)
- A list of their creditors (if any)
- Details of their contributions towards the marriage (such contributions can be financial and non-financial)
- Their proposals on the ancillary matters ie. child-care arrangements following the divorce, division of the matrimonial home and assets, spousal maintenance, maintenance for the child(ren), etc.
- Any other information or issues which they want the Court to be mindful about
Parties should furnish the supporting documentation for the above information in their AM affidavits.
When is an AM affidavit filed?
Parties are directed to file their AM affidavits following the grant of Interim Judgment ie. after a divorce has been granted. They will usually be given approximately 3 – 4 weeks to prepare their AM affidavits.
AM affidavits do not need to be filed if Parties are able to resolve all of the ancillary matters at mediation.
What if a party does not provide a full and frank disclosure in their AM affidavits?
In the course of preparing replies to their respective AM affidavits, Parties may discover that the other party may not have been truthful or honest about their income, assets, etc.
In legal terms, this is referred to as a lack of “full and frank disclosure”.
Examples of this include:
- Under-declaring and/or under-valuing their assets
- Not reporting certain sources of income
- Reporting a lower income than what they are actually receiving
- Reporting a higher list of monthly expenses than what is actually spent
- Overstating their debts (if any)
Parties may also, from documents, noticed a dissipation of assets by one party ie. large spending or transfers of monies to known or unknown persons.
In such an event, Parties can make a request for Discovery and Interrogatories (“D&I”) to compel the other party to disclose certain documents and even answer questions which a party may have in relation to information or documents which had been furnished in that party’s AM affidavit. Such a request is done informally at first instance by requesting for such documents and/or answers by way of a letter.
In the event that the other party refuses to provide the requested documents and/or information; or the requesting party is not satisfied with the other party’s response, a formal application for D&I can be filed with the Court.
It is for the requesting party to convince the Court that the requested documents and/or information are:
- In the other party’s possession; and
- Such documents and/or information is relevant to the proceedings.
What are the consequences of not providing full and frank disclosure in an AM affidavit?
If the Court is satisfied that a party has not made a full and frank disclosure in his/her AM affidavit, the Court may draw an adverse inference against them.
When drawing an adverse inference, the Court may infer that a party actually owns more assets than they have disclosed and can even treat a party as though they draw a higher income than disclosed.
Naturally, the Courts will look at all of the evidence before them in coming to such a determination of adverse inference.