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Pro Bono: Division of Matrimonial Assets

Division of Matrimonial Assets: Introduction

This library guide collates relevant resources relating to ancillary matters concerning the division of matrimonial assets in a divorce. Ancillary matters also include other issues such as custody, care and control of children, and maintenance, but the focus here will be on division of matrimonial assets.

Overview

The law of division of matrimonial assets is statutory in origin, and its application is generally made ancillary upon the main application for divorce, judicial separation or nullity of marriage. Such powers of the Court to order for the division and sale of matrimonial assets upon termination of marriage lie under Part X, s 112 of the Women's Charter (Cap 353, 2009 Rev Ed). Both civil courts and the Syariah Court have concurrent jurisdiction over the division of matrimonial property for Muslim spouses, though the latter follows similar statutory guidelines found in AMLA's s 52(14).

The general principle underpinning the power of division is suggested by the author as a 'deferred community of property':

  • Community of Property: Parties in a marital relationship are regarded to have contributed to the acquisition of property during the subsistence of their marital relationship regardless of who may actually have earned the money to pay for the property. They have equal power to deal with the property.
  • Deferred: However, for the purpose of practicality, they have separate properties during the subsistence of marriage. The former only kicks in upon termination of the marital relationship.

Two major issues arise with respect to the division of matrimonial assets:

  1. Identification of Matrimonial Assets: The definition of matrimonial assets are outlined in s 112(10) of the WC. 

(10)  In this section, “matrimonial asset” means —
(a) any asset acquired before the marriage by one party or both parties to the marriage —
(i) ordinarily used or enjoyed by both parties or one or more of their children while the parties are residing together for shelter or transportation or for household, education, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes; or
(ii) which has been substantially improved during the marriage by the other party or by both parties to the marriage; and
(b) any other asset of any nature acquired during the marriage by one party or both parties to the marriage,
but does not include any asset (not being a matrimonial home) that has been acquired by one party at any time by gift or inheritance and that has not been substantially improved during the marriage by the other party or by both parties to the marriage.

  1. Achieving a Just and Equitable Division of Assets: There is a common directive provided under ss 112(1) and (2) of the WC to achieve just and equitable proportions of division. In particular, s 112(2) outlines the circumstances in which the court considers in the exercise of its powers of division under s 112(1). 
    Some factors considered include the extent of contributions to monetary assets and to the welfare of the family, needs of children, prior agreements, rent-free occupation and s 114(1) factors regarding the assessment of maintenance, where relevant etc.

Source: Leong Wai Kum, Elements of Family Law, 3rd Ed (2018))

Resources for Division of Matrimonial Assets

Ancillary Matters (including Divison of Matrimonial Assets)

Family Justice Courts - Divorce
According to the Family Justice Courts of Singapore, ancillary matters form the second stage of divorce proceedings.The first stage pertains to the termination of marriage through divorce proceedings (read more). An overview of the second stage is provided.

In sum, the applicant will:

  1. First attend the Ancillary Matters Case Conference for the Assistant Registrar to determine if settlement is possible.
  2. If settlement is possible, the applicant will be referred for counseling or mediation by court officers. Parties which reach an agreement will file a Draft Consent Order.
  3. Where settlement is not possible, the Assistant Registrar will then direct on certain procedures. These may include filing additional forms such as an Affidavit of Assets and Means (AOM), and fixing a date for a contested Ancillary Matters hearing.

Syariah Court - Divorce Process

Explains the process to reaching settlement in relation to the divorce and ancillary matters such as nafkah iddah, mutaah, custody of children and division of matrimonial property. 

FAQs on Muslim Divorce (Syariah Court)
Answers to steps for an application for Muslim divorce and other family-related matters. See in particular the section on Ancillaries.

1. Family Justice Courts (FJC)
The Family Justice Courts (FJC) are established pursuant to the Family Justice Act in 2014 and restructured the family justice system by bringing together all family-related work under a specialised body of courts.
Add: Divorce Registry, Level 3, Family Justice Courts @ Havelock, No. 3 Havelock Square. Singapore 059725
Contact: Write To Us
Tel: (65) 6435 5398 (Writ for Divorce) ; (65) 6435 5473 (Originating Summons)

2.  Legal Aid Bureau 
The Legal Aid Bureau advances access to justice for applicants with limited means, including providing legal representation and advice, as set out in the Legal Aid and Advice Act.
Add: Ministry of Law Services Centre, 45 Maxwell Road, #07-11 The URA Centre (East Wing), Singapore 069118
Contact: Contact Us@OneMinLaw
Tel: 1800 2255 529 (1800-CALL-LAW)

3. Family Mediation Services

  • Family Justice Courts: The Family Dispute Resolution Centre of the FJC is dedicated to assisting the parties in coming to an amicable arrangement on the divorce and ancillary matters.
    Add: Child Focused Resolution Centre (CFRC) and the Family Resolution Chambers (FRC), Level 4, Family Justice Courts @ MND, 5 Maxwell Road, #04-00, Tower Block, MND Complex, Singapore 069110
    Tel: (65) 6236 9050
  • Singapore Mediation Centre: Private mediation may be available in certain circumstances, and is to be conducted by the Singapore Mediation Centre or an agreed private mediator chosen by the parties.
    Add: 1 Supreme Court Lane, Level 4, Singapore 178879
    Contact: enquiries@mediation.com.sg
    Tel: (65) 6332 4366
  • Community Mediation Centre: The CMC provides mediation as a dispute resolution service for matters, including family disputes in Singapore.
    Add: 45 Maxwell Road, #07-11 The URA Centre (East Wing), Singapore 069118
    Contact: Contact Us@OneMinLaw
    Tel: 1800-CALL-LAW (1800 2255 529)

4. Syariah Court of Singapore
The Syariah Court has jurisdiction over judicial proceedings relating to Muslim marriages and divorce, and ancillary matters, pursuant to s 35 of the Administration of Muslim Law Act.
Add: Family Link @ Lengkok Bahru 8, Lengkok Bahru, #03-01 Singapore 159052
Tel: (65) 63548371 (Hotline)

Refer to the following statutes and related subsidiary legislation on Singapore Statutes Online:

Key Legislation

Practice Directions and Circulars

Please refer to the Family Justice Courts Legislation help page for a list of Rules, Practice Directions, Circulars and amendments.

Related image

Law & practice of family law in Singapore

Thean, Valerie. Singapore : Sweet & Maxwell/Thomson Reuters, 2016. (e-book)

Elements of family law in Singapore

Leong, Wai Kum. Singapore : LexisNexis, 2018.

Image result for international issues in family law in singapore

International issues in family law in Singapore 

Ong, Debbie Siew Ling, author. Singapore : Academy Publishing, 2015.

Image result for singapore women's charter 50 questions

Singapore women's charter 50 questions 

Leong, Wai Kum. Singapore : Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011. (e-book)

 

Family law in Singapore 

Randolph Khoo, Drew & Napier LLC (online publication)

Image result for navigating muslim law in singapore

Navigating Muslim law in Singapore 

Singapore : Syariah Law Forum Organising Committee, National University of Singapore, 2017.

Image result for know the law now

Know the Law Now 

Created by the Law Society Pro-Bono Services

Chapter III contains information on:

Family Proceedings, grounds for divorce, nullification of marriage, custody of children, maintenance, matrimonial assets, Muslim divorce, domestic violence, adoption

 

Legal Clinic Manual : Family Law

Published by the Law Society of Singapore, this book contains detailed guidance to volunteer lawyers.

The family law section contains information on divorce, nullity and ancillary matters.

If a password is required for access, NUS Law students may request it from the Centre for Pro Bono & Clinical Legal Education (probono@nus.edu.sg). 

The Family Justice Courts page on Forms contains forms for the following classes of matters: