The End of a Marriage : Inter-Spousal Gifts in Singapore


The unravelling of a marriage often brings forth a multitude of complex questions, one of which revolves around the gifts exchanged between spouses during the course of their union.

As couples navigate divorce proceedings, a common concern emerges:

Can one spouse reclaim the gifts they gave to the other during the marriage?

The answer to this question is far from straightforward, as it hinges on various factors, including the nature of the gift, the effort invested in its acquisition, and the underlying intentions.

In this article, we explore the intricate world of gifts and their fate during divorce. From dresses and jewellery to properties acquired through personal efforts, we delve into the legal nuances that determine whether a gift is returned to the matrimonial assets pool or remains the possession of the recipient.

We also examine the pivotal aspect of the donor’s intent and the influence it wields on the division of assets.

So, can your spouse take back the gift they once gave you during the marriage?

Let’s navigate the legal landscape and uncover the answers to these perplexing questions.

Can my spouse take back the gift he/she gave me during the marriage during the divorce proceedings?

Generally, for gifts with minimal economic value such as dresses or jewelries, the receiving spouse does not have to return the gift to the pool of matrimonial assets to be divided. He/she can keep it.

Is it a gift acquired by the spouse’s personal efforts exerted during the marriage?

A property acquired by a spouse’s personal efforts exerted during the marriage, and then gifted to the other spouse, is not a gift. Instead, it is automatically classified as a matrimonial asset.

However, even if one has to return the property to the pool of matrimonial assets, the courts may still award you the same or a greater amount back to you.

If the gift is not acquired by a spouse’s personal efforts exerted during marriage but is originally an asset acquired by the donor spouse by way of a third party’s gift or inheritance, then the gift remains a gift and is excluded from the pool of matrimonial assets.

Was the gift given to you, so that you will not begin divorce proceedings?

The law recognizes that there is inequity when a gift is given in contemplation of divorce, and when there is cogent evidence that the intention was to dissuade the spouse so gifted from pursuing divorce.

However, the law still dictates that the gifted property is to be returned to the pool of matrimonial assets liable to be divided, and later allow the spouse to retain the property. Therefore, you can still retain the gift, albeit in a more principled method.

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gloria james

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