Custody, Division of Assets, and Family Law: Key Insights from [2024] SGHCF 22

Custody, Division of Assets, and Family Law: Key Insights from [2024] SGHCF 22

Substance over Form in Care & Control Arrangements

In the landmark judgment of WXA v WXB [2024] SGHCF 22, the Family Justice Courts of the Republic of Singapore addressed crucial issues related to the custody, care and control of children, maintenance, and the division of matrimonial assets. This case provides valuable insights for those navigating family law disputes, especially in the context of divorce. Below, we break down the key takeaways from this judgment to help you understand the intricacies of family law in Singapore.

Overview of the Case

The case involves a divorce between WXA (the Husband) and WXB (the Wife), who were married for 17 years and have two children: a daughter (C1) and a son (C2), aged 15 and 12, respectively. The ancillary matters addressed by the court included the care and control of the children, child maintenance, and the division of matrimonial assets.

Custody, Care, and Control of Children

Joint Custody

Both parties agreed to joint custody, which means that both parents share the responsibility for major decisions affecting their children’s welfare. An order for joint custody emphasizes that both parents must recognize and respect each other’s role in the children’s lives, as seen in VJM v VJL [2021] 5 SLR 1233.

Sole Care and Control

The main contention was over care and control of the children. The Husband sought shared care and control, proposing a schedule that would allow the children to spend roughly equal time with each parent. The Wife sought sole care and control, with reasonable access for the Husband.

Husband’s Proposal:

  • Sundays 1200 hours to Fridays 0700 hours with the Wife.
  • Fridays after school hours to Sundays 1200 hours with the Husband three weekends a month.
  • Two weekdays from after school to 2000 hours with the Husband.

Wife’s Proposal:

  • Sole care and control with reasonable access for the Husband.

Court’s Decision:

  • The court found that the Husband’s proposal did not amount to true shared care and control but rather generous access. The court emphasized substance over form, citing TAU v TAT [2018] 5 SLR 1089 and AUA v ATZ [2016] 4 SLR 674. It was decided that sole care and control should be granted to the Wife to minimize disruptions to the children’s routines, especially considering the Wife’s ability to work from home and provide a stable environment during school days.

Access Arrangements

  • Weekdays: Agreed upon by both parties.
  • Weekends: The court adopted the Wife’s proposal, allowing the Husband access from Friday after school until Saturday night. This balanced approach allows both parties to spend quality time with the children over the weekends.
  • School Holidays: The court adopted the Husband’s proposal for alternating weeks. This frequent change allows the children to spend time with both parents without long separations.
  • Special Occasions: The court adopted the Wife’s proposal, allowing the Husband access on even years and on his own birthday. This approach respects each parent’s desire to celebrate significant events with the children.

Maintenance for Children

The court ordered the Husband to pay $585 per month for child maintenance. This amount was determined after assessing the children’s portion of household expenses and other reasonable needs. Major personal expenses for the children, such as school fees and medical bills, are to be split equally on a reimbursement basis. The principles set out in WOS v WOT [2023] SGHCF 36 guided the court in determining what expenses are reasonable for the children’s needs.

Division of Matrimonial Assets


The court applied the global assessment methodology, which involves evaluating the total pool of matrimonial assets and dividing them proportionately based on each party’s contributions. This approach is supported by the precedent in NK v NL [2007] 3 SLR(R) 743.

Joint Assets

The total value of joint assets was determined to be approximately $1.84 million. This included the matrimonial home and a motor vehicle.

Sole Assets

  • Husband’s Sole Assets: Approximately $1.98 million, including insurance policies held for the benefit of the children and personal savings.
  • Wife’s Sole Assets: Approximately $1.33 million, including notional additions for previously undisclosed assets and other adjustments.

Court’s Decision on Division:

  • Direct Contributions: The court found that both parties made equal direct contributions to the joint assets. For assets held in their sole names, each party was solely responsible.
  • Indirect Contributions: The court assessed indirect contributions equally, noting that both parties played significant roles in caregiving and homemaking. This approach aligns with the broad-brush methodology endorsed in ANJ v ANK [2015] 4 SLR 1043.

Final Division:

  • The court ordered a division of the total matrimonial assets with the Husband receiving 53% and the Wife 47%. This was based on a detailed assessment of both direct and indirect contributions.
  • Additionally, $128,962 was to be transferred from the Husband’s share of the matrimonial home proceeds to the Wife to balance the division.

Key Takeaways for Family Law

  1. Joint Custody vs. Sole Care and Control: Courts prioritize the welfare of the children, favoring arrangements that minimize disruption and provide stability. Orders for joint custody underscore the equal responsibility of both parents.
  2. Generous Access: While shared care and control is possible, the court may grant sole care and control with generous access if it better serves the children’s interests.
  3. Maintenance Obligations: Child maintenance is shared proportionately based on the parents’ financial capacities, focusing on what the child reasonably needs.
  4. Global Assessment Methodology: This method ensures a fair division of matrimonial assets by considering both direct and indirect contributions of each party.
  5. Disclosure of Assets: Full and frank disclosure of assets is crucial. Courts can draw adverse inferences or make notional additions to the matrimonial pool for non-disclosed or dissipated assets, as illustrated in UZN v UZM [2021] 1 SLR 426.


The judgment in WXA v WXB [2024] SGHCF 22 underscores the importance of prioritizing the welfare of children and ensuring a fair division of assets in divorce proceedings. By understanding these principles, individuals can better navigate the complexities of family law in Singapore.

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