Are Assets Acquired by One Party Before the Marriage considered Matrimonial Assets in Singapore Family Law?
Division of matrimonial assets is part of family law in Singapore. According to Section 112(10) of the Women’s Charter, which is the basis statute dealing with family law in Singapore, assets acquired before marriage are matrimonial assets if they are:
i. Ordinarily used or enjoyed by both parties or one or more of their children while the parties are residing together; or
ii. Has been substantially improved during the marriage by the other party or by both parties to the marriage
What consists in Singapore family law efforts that “substantially improve” the asset?
There is no clear definition on what efforts are required to “substantially improve” the asset in Singapore family law. However, according to case law of family law in Singapore:
i. Has to be direct connection between efforts of other party and the improvement of the asset
ii. Indirect contributions such as financial contributions to the household are usually too remote, vague, and unable to result in substantial improvement;
iii. An exception to the above in Singapore family law is that if the indirect contributions allowed the other party to fully devote their time and energy to the improvement of asset
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From whom must the effort of substantially improving the asset come from?
According to Singapore family law, the effort must come either from the spouse other than the one who acquired the property or from both spouses. As Singapore family case law Chow Hoo Siong v Lee Dawn Audrey established, it is irrelevant whether the husband who acquired the assets made substantial improvements, and that the only relevant consideration in Singapore family law regarding whether the asset should be a matrimonial asset is whether the wife did the same.