Meaning of matrimonial assets
Briefly, matrimonial assets include the following:
- Assets acquired by one or both parties during the marriage
- Assets used by one or both parties or their children for various purposes
- Assets acquired before the marriage but substantially improved in quality during the marriage by the effort of either party during the marriage
Matrimonial assets do not include assets received as gifts or by inheritance, as well as any asset not substantially improved through effort.
Common examples of matrimonial assets include parties’ matrimonial homes that the parties lived in during the marriage, the family car, savings in a joint account, cash balance in the parties’ Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts, and jewellery.
Related Article: Matrimonial Assets – Third Party Gifts
What factors are considered for the division of matrimonial assets?
In determining the ratio of division of matrimonial assets, the court aims to achieve a “just and equitable” outcome for both parties by considering various factors which include, amongst other things, the extent of contribution to the pool of matrimonial assets. Contributions include both direct and indirect contributions, the meanings of which are as follows:
Financial contributions made towards the accumulation of matrimonial assets.
Common examples: cash payment for matrimonial home, mortgage repayments
Recently, the court decision on whether an external party’s contributions could be ascribed to one of the parties in order to increase that party’s extent of contribution to the matrimonial assets.
Related Article: Factors Influencing Division of Matrimonial Assets
Can a grandparent’s indirect non-financial contributions be included as a factor relating to the division of matrimonial assets?
In this case, the husband sought to enlarge the extent of his indirect contributions in order to receive a larger proportion of the matrimonial assets. In doing so, he placed considerable reliance on the many indirect non-financial contributions of his mother, the paternal grandmother of the children of the marriage.
The court decided that the only personal contributions of the parties to the household and family can be considered towards the division of matrimonial assets. The grandmother’s contributions, therefore, did not influence the husband’s proportion in the matrimonial assets.
However, the judge considered that the grandmother’s indirect non-financial contributions could be ascribed to the husband if (1) the husband had in place some agreement to repay her for whatever she contributed; or (2) there was some form of evidence that the grandmother had no personal relationship with the family and the grandchildren, and made indirect contributions solely on account of her relationship with the son. Both scenarios ultimately contemplate situations where the husband indirectly contributed through a ‘proxy’.