Matrimonial Assets & Liabilities in Divorce

Since the seminal case of ANJ v ANK [2015] SGCA 34, the Family Court in Singapore began adopting a more structured approach to the division of matrimonial assets & liabilities. It should, however, be noted from the outset that the court has the ultimate discretion to take a broad brush approach in assessing each party’s contributions to the marriage, in order to ensure that the matrimonial assets and liabilities are divided in a just and equitable manner.

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How are matrimonial assets divided? – The Court’s methodology

First of all, the court will have to determine the pool of matrimonial assets. An asset is a matrimonial asset if it is acquired during the marriage. It will also include any assets acquired before the marriage which has been ordinarily used or enjoyed by both parties/their child(ren), or which has been substantially by one or both parties during the marriage.

Please click here for a more detailed explanation of what constitutes a matrimonial asset

When dividing matrimonial assets, the court looks at the parties’ respective contributions to the marriage. More specifically:

  • direct financial contributions (e.g. payment of mortgage, renovations);
  • indirect financial contributions (e.g. payment of household expenses); and
  • indirect non-financial contributions (e.g. taking care of the household chores/children).

The court would derive ratios for parties’ respective direct and indirect contributions and average the two ratios to determine parties’ overall contributions. Subsequently, the court will divide the matrimonial assets using the overall ratios. For example:

Direct Contributions
Indirect (financial and non-financial) Contributions
Overall contribution
[being (20 + 60)/2]
[being (80 + 40)/2]

Do note that the above is only a guide and the court has the discretion to make any final adjustments which are necessary to arrive at a just and equitable division of assets. For instance, the court may increase the ratio to be given to a wife in cognizance of her contributions to the household in a long marriage.

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