Divorce: Financial Issues

There are two main ways in which you and your spouse will be affected financially as a direct result of a divorce: first, in relation to how your matrimonial assets will be divided; and second, in relation to any maintenance payments the court may order you or your spouse to make.

There are several issues to consider that may make a significant impact on the two identified ways you may be affected financially by the divorce. This article briefly elaborates on the financial issues that you should contemplate before filing for divorce.

 

What exactly constitutes matrimonial assets?

Subsequent to the court granting a judgement of divorce, the court will also order the division of matrimonial assets between the parties. The following categories of assets will be considered matrimonial assets and might be subject to division by the courts after a divorce:

– Any asset acquired before the marriage by you or your spouse that is ordinarily used or enjoyed by you, your spouse or your children while you are residing together for shelter, transportation, household, education, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes;

– Any asset acquired before the marriage by you or your spouse which has been substantially improved upon during the marriage by the other party or by both you and your spouse; and

– Any other asset of any nature acquired during the marriage by either you or your spouse.

Matrimonial assets do not include assets that have been acquired by you or your spouse by gift or inheritance and have not been substantially improved upon during the marriage by the other party or by both you and your spouse other than the matrimonial home.

Common examples of assets that are considered to be matrimonial assets:

– The matrimonial home;

– The family car;

– Cash savings;

– CPF funds;

– Insurance policies;

– Etc.

 

The Division of Matrimonial Assets

You and your spouse may decide between yourselves on how the matrimonial assets are to be divided through a pre-trial conference. Alternatively, you may let the courts decide how to divide the matrimonial assets.

If you and your spouse elect to let the courts decide how the assets are to be divided, the courts will be required to make a decision that is just and equitable, taking into account several factors, including direct and indirect contributions such as:

– The extent of the contributions made by both you and your spouse in money, property or work towards acquiring, improving or maintaining the matrimonial assets;

– Any debt owed or obligation incurred by you or your spouse for the benefit of both you and your spouse, or for your children;

– The needs of your children;

– The extent of the contributions made by both you and your spouse to the welfare of the family, such as looking after the home of caring for aged or infirm relatives or dependants;

– Any agreements made between you and your spouse concerning the ownership and division of matrimonial assets made in contemplation of divorce;

– Any period of rent-free occupation or other benefit enjoyed by either you or your spouse in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party; and

– Any giving of assistance of support by you or your spouse to the other party, whether material or not, such as giving assistance or support for the other’s occupation or business.

In short marriages, the direct contributions (such as financial contributions) of the parties tend to outweigh the indirect contributions of the parties. However, in a long marriage, indirect contributions could greatly affect the determination of the division of the assets.

For example, even if the husband makes a greater financial contribution than his wife if the wife’s indirect contribution far exceeds that of the husband, the wife could possibly get a larger portion of the matrimonial asset.

The court may make any of the following orders, including:

– Selling of matrimonial assets and dividing the proceeds between you and your spouse;

– Vesting any matrimonial asset in either you or your spouse;

– Postponing the sale or vestment of any share in a matrimonial asset until a specific condition as determined by the court is fulfilled;

– Granting a party the right to personally occupy the matrimonial home for a specified time, to the exclusion of the other party; or

–  Ordering one party to pay a sum of money to the other.

 

Spousal Maintenance

Subsequent to the court granting a judgement of divorce, the court may also order one party to pay the other party maintenance, whether in a lump-sum or in periodic payments, as the court sees fit.

It should be noted that in Singapore, only the wife and children are generally entitled to maintenance. A husband is only entitled to maintenance if he has, during the marriage, become incapacitated from earning a livelihood by any physical or mental disability or illness, and is unable to maintain himself.

In deciding how much maintenance is to be paid, the court will consider the circumstances of the case, including:

– The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources both you and your spouse have or are likely to have in the foreseeable future;

– The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities both you and your spouse have or are likely to have in the foreseeable future;

– The standard of living enjoyed by your family prior to the breakdown of the marriage;

– The age of both you and your spouse, and the duration of the marriage;

– The presence of any physical or mental disability of either you or your spouse;

– The contributions made by both you and your spouse to the welfare of the family; and

– The value to either you or your spouse any benefit, such as pensions, that you or your spouse might lose the chance of acquiring by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage.

In general, the court will try to place both parties in the financial position in which both parties would have been if the marriage had not broken down and each party had properly discharged his/her financial obligations and responsibilities towards the other. In addition, the court will be guided to do what is best for both the parties and the children of the marriage.

 

 How We Can Help

Filing for a divorce and divorce procedures in Singapore are delicate issues and may be too technical for you to fully understand alone. We understand that going through such an event in your life is difficult and emotional. Worry not, at I.R.B. Law; we have experienced divorce lawyers who are well versed in family law proceedings in Singapore. We will be able to guide you through the process and explain to you each stage of your divorce or your separation.

Do contact us to receive advice on how your divorce proceedings can be best handled so that you can focus on getting back up on your feet. Our first consultation is usually free as we wish to focus on you and not on your wallet. Do not hesitate to reach out to us at hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at +65 6589 8913 to and schedule an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers today.