Matrimonial Assets In Singapore: 4 Things You Should Know

by | Jan 31, 2016

Matrimonial assets

In a divorce, couples also have to deal with financial and ownership issues aside from the mental and emotional toll. The division of matrimonial assets in Singapore remains highly contested. The Court rarely grants an equal share of the matrimonial assets between a divorced couple.

For example, a husband may get a more significant chunk of the matrimonial assets than a wife. But how exactly does the Court come up with this decision? What is and isn’t considered a matrimonial asset? Below are some things you should know about the division of matrimonial assets.

1. What Is Considered A “Matrimonial Asset”?

In Singapore, the Women’s Charter governs the Court’s decision on dividing matrimonial assets. The definition of or what constitutes “matrimonial assets” are also outlined in the charter.

The following types of property are considered matrimonial assets:

  • The matrimonial home
  • Property that was acquired during the marriage
  • Property that was acquired before marriage was:
    • Ordinarily used by the family
    • Substantially improved by both or the other party
  • Gifts that have been substantially improved by both or the other party
  • Property that was acquired before the marriage does not otherwise constitute matrimonial assets

Anything of value that was obtained by the couple throughout their marriage and had benefited either/both them and their children is considered a matrimonial asset. For a clearer picture, some examples of matrimonial assets include:

  • Family car
  • Television
  • Shares
  • Savings
  • Jewellery
  • Businesses
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Vacation homes
  • Lottery winnings
  • Insurance policies
  • Central Provident Funds (CPF)

2. How Are Matrimonial Assets Divided In Singapore??

Division of matrimonial assets singapore

The division of matrimonial assets in Singapore usually happens during the ancillary stage, after the initial divorce proceedings. Apart from matrimonial assets, the Court also addresses child custody and spousal/child maintenance. All of these take place during an Ancillary Matters Case Conference. The Court initiates the hearings usually a month after they hand down their Interim Judgement or order for divorce.

The Court is empowered to order the division of any matrimonial asset according to an apportionment that is just and fair by giving adequate and appropriate weight to each party’s direct and indirect contribution toward the marriage:

  • Direct contributions include financial contributions made towards the acquisition or improvement of the matrimonial assets.
  • Indirect contributions include efforts to improve or maintain the well being of the family.
  • The parties’ roles as financial providers or homemakers are both equally recognised because both must have been performed equally for the marriage to continue or flourish.

3. Systemised Approach To Dividing Matrimonial Assets In Singapore

It’s generally within the Court’s discretion to divide the matrimonial assets as they see fit and fair. But, in a recent case, the Court took on a more structured approach. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the Court’s systematic approach to dividing marital assets:

  • Step 1: After each couple fully discloses their assets (direct/financial and indirect/non-financial contributions), the Court will begin examining the assets.
  • Step 2: The Court will determine a preliminary ratio based on the parties’ direct contributions. The Court will do the same for the indirect contributions.
  • Step 3: The Court will average the two percentage ratios from each party. The result will serve as a basis for their decision.

With this approach, the divorced parties are on equal footing. Even if one of the parties has made more financial contributions, they aren’t guaranteed a larger share of the matrimonial assets. Likewise, a party that has made more non-financial contributions may end up with a more significant percentage of the assets. No two cases are the same, and the Court takes time to understand the nuances of each to hand down a just and equitable decision.

4. What Factors Are Considered In The Division Of Matrimonial Assets?

What Factors Are Considered In The Division Of Matrimonial Assets

The Court will decide on dividing or appropriating the matrimonial assets after considering the following factors:

Financial Contributions Made By Each Party

The Court will examine the parties’ contributions to acquiring, improving, or maintaining the matrimonial assets. Some examples include income and capital investment.

If the party has more contributions in this regard, the Court will likely reward them with a bigger portion of the matrimonial assets.

Debt Owed Or Obligation Incurred

A couple will incur debt throughout the marriage. They may owe money to creditors or banking institutions. Or they may also have car loans and mortgages. These will also affect the Court’s decision on who should get a greater share of the assets.

For example, if a party has incurred higher debt, the Court will award them less. Similarly, if the other party took on the obligation of paying for that debt, they may be rewarded more.

Needs Of The Children

The Court also considers the needs of the children when dividing assets. For example, the needs of the children may require that the matrimonial property not be divided and that the children be allowed to live in the property until the youngest child is 21 years old.

The Court recognises that children’s needs are paramount, which is why they must also be put to the fore, if applicable.

Contributions Made By Each Party Towards The Family’s Welfare

Domestic roles may be considered archaic or old-fashioned. In a marriage, there are traditional expectations that the wife is the caregiver for the children and dependents. Meanwhile, the husband is usually the provider.

While a typical Singaporean family may have come a long way in subverting these stereotypes, the Court still emphasises familial contributions.

Parties may have made contributions to advancing the welfare of a family member. For example, the wife was a homemaker and a caregiver, while the husband helped create and maintain a positive home environment.

Prenuptial Agreements Made Between The Parties

Prenuptial agreements in Singapore tend to have no legal enforceability. However, the Court may consider them depending on the facts of the case.

Period Of Rent-Free Occupation Enjoyed By One Party

For example, one of the parties may have rented an HDB flat before the marriage. During the marriage and after the wife has moved in, the husband took it upon himself to shoulder the rent, tax, and other dues. The period until the wife decides to share the financial costs of the flat is called “rent-free-occupation”.

The Court will also consider how long one of the parties lived rent-free in the other’s housing. A longer duration may mean a much lower share for that party.

Financial And Non-Financial Support 

The Court will determine if one of the parties has provided financial or non-financial support to help the other party. Another example would be a family-run business. If the wife has provided more services to advance the business, they may get more out of the matrimonial assets than the other party.

Amount Of Maintenance Paid To The Former Wife/Husband

According to section 69 of the Singapore Women’s Charter, spousal maintenance is a monthly or lump sum payment made to a former wife or husband. This payment is made during and after divorce/matrimonial proceedings if either spouse cannot financially support themselves.

Ex-spouses are legally obliged to give some financial support after divorce. The Court may grant a larger portion of the matrimonial asset share to a husband/wife who has fulfilled spousal maintenance duties.


Need to consult with a female divorce lawyer in Singapore? The Singapore Family Lawyer is here to help. We’re a team of divorce and family lawyers who can provide expert legal advice for your case. Call us now for a free 30-minute consultation!

Feel free to make inquiries about other information. Aside from the division of matrimonial assets, we also handle uncontested/contested divorce, child maintenance, spousal support, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions About Division Of Matrimonial Assets In Singapore

Does The Court Split Matrimonial Assets Equally?

No. The Court does not assume the position that both parties equally provided their fair share during the marriage.

How Is Property Divided In A Divorce In Singapore?

The Court may consider these factors in the division of property:

  1. Length of marriage
  2. Coverage of the matrimonial pool
  3. Needs of the children (if any)

How Much Property Does The Wife Get After A Divorce?

It depends on the Court’s decision. As mentioned, the Court does not split the matrimonial assets 50/50 in favour of both parties. Instead, it will deliberate on several case-specific aspects.

Do You Have To Show Bank Statements During A Divorce?

Yes. You’re required to disclose your finances and assets legally. Doing so will allow the Court to determine each party’s share in the divorce.

About the author

About the author

Singapore Family Lawyer

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.