Annulment of Marriage: What Happens to your HDB Flat


In Singapore, couples can choose to annul their marriage if they have been married for less than three years. However, both parties must meet certain conditions before they can apply for an annulment.

Annulment in brief

An annulment of marriage differs from a divorce because it treats the marriage as though it has never existed.

The qualifying grounds upon which an annulment can be filed also differ from that of a divorce.

According to Chapter 3 of the Women’s Charter, marriages that can be annulled are classified as “void” or “voidable”. Void marriages cannot be contested and are immediately rendered annulled.

However, voidable marriages can be challenged on several grounds. These include proving that the party filing for annulment (i.e. the plaintiff) could have avoided the marriage at the start and acted in a way to make the defendant reasonably believe that the plaintiff does not intend to do so.

It can also be contested if the defendant proves that it will be unfair for him/her should the annulment take place.

To file for an annulment of marriage, either party must submit a writ to claim for a judgement of nullity under Section 104 of the Women’s Charter.

While the defendant need not attend the hearing unless specified by the court, the plaintiff, however, is required to be present.

After the successful annulment of the marriage, the marital status of both parties will revert to “single” as opposed to “divorcee”.

Read more: Annulment Explained (Flowchart)

Ancillary matters pertaining to HDB flat

Upon obtaining a judgement of nullity, the court will apply the factors laid out in the Women’s Charter when dividing matrimonial assets, which are the same in the case of a divorce.

However, since marriage can only be annulled within the first three years, the HDB flat acquired by the couple during the marriage would not have met the minimum occupancy period of five years.

Therefore, the couple cannot consider their flat as a matrimonial asset if they plan to annul their marriage.

They will need to surrender the flat according to HDB regulations. Any nett proceeds as a result of the surrender will be part of the assets up for division.

Either party can still retain the flat if the parents have originally been listed in the application to buy the flat.

It may not be compulsory for the parents to live in the flat as this is dependent on HDB regulations.

However, should the spouse have a share in the property, he/she will need to add the sum into the matrimonial pool of assets.

Read more:What Happens to My HDB Flat if I Divorce Before MOP?

FAQs on HDB Flat Matters relating to Annulment of Marriage

What is the process of obtaining an annulment of marriage in Singapore?

An application must be filed in Court and served personally on the Defendant. Then, the Defendant will be required to enter an appearance indicating whether they will contest the annulment.

It is important to state the reason for the annulment and provide sufficient evidence.

If the matter is uncontested, the Court will grant the Interim Judgment administratively. In other words, parties aren’t required to attend the Court Hearing.

After 3 months from the date of the Interim Judgment, the Final Judgment will be issued.

If the matter is uncontested and the defendant cooperates fully, parties can expect to receive the Final Judgment about 4 to 5 months after filing the papers.

However, the annulment process may drag on if the Defendant contests it.

Can I annul my marriage if I own an HDB flat?

Yes, you may annul your marriage. However, you may need to surrender the flat according to HDB regulations. Since marriage can only be annulled within the first three years, the HDB flat acquired during the marriage would not have met the minimum occupancy period (MOP) of 5 years.

Will the annulment of my marriage affect my ownership of the HDB flat?

Generally, neither party can retain the HDB flat if a marriage is annulled.

Retention of the flat is only allowed if either of your parents was originally listed on the flat purchase application. If neither party is eligible to retain the flat, the flat may have to be returned at the prevailing compensation price. This is subject to HDB’s requirements and/or approval.

Can I sell the HDB flat during the annulment process?

Parties could attempt to make an appeal application to HDB to sell the flat in the open market before the MOP is reached. It is highlighted that HDB considers applications on a case-by-case basis, and there is no guarantee that the appeal application will be successful. It is best that parties check directly with HDB.

Before the flat is sold, it may be useful for parties to consider and agree on when the flat should be sold, the party responsible for selling it, and what should be done with the sale proceeds after it is sold.

In most cases, the sale proceeds are used to redeem the outstanding HDB mortgage loan, refund parties’ CPF monies used for the purchase of the flat, together with accrued interests, and for the payment of costs and expenses of sale.

It may also be useful for parties to consider:

  • What will happen to the balance of the sale proceeds, if there are any;
  • The flat is sold at a loss, and net sales proceeds after repayment of the outstanding HDB mortgage loan are insufficient to fully refund the parties’ withdrawn CPF monies.
  • The proportions of which parties should share the losses and profits, if any, incurred.

What happens to the HDB flat’s housing grants and CPF (Central Provident Fund) contributions in the event of an annulment?

Generally, you do not return your housing grants to the Government. Housing grants are given to home buyers to buy a new or resale flat. However, it is best to directly check with HDB and the CPF Board.

Read more: Can I Force the Sale of my House in a Divorce?

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