How are assets divided upon divorce?
After the divorce has been granted, it will be the ancillary stage where matters such as asset division are decided by the court. At the ancillary stage, the court will divide assets between parties as well as make orders as to the division of the assets and the proceeds of the sale of the assets, your divorce lawyer should be able to aid you through this process.
What counts as matrimonial assets?
Matrimonial assets include assets acquired by one or both parties during the marriage or assets used or enjoyed by one or both parties or their children during the course of marriage. These assets could be used for shelter, transportation, household, educational, recreational, social and aesthetic purposes. Sometimes, even assets acquired before the marriage could count as matrimonial assets if it has substantially improved in quality during the marriage.
However, assets that were acquired by way of gift or inheritance which were not substantially improved during marriage do not count as matrimonial assets.
How do the courts divide these assets?
Generally, the courts aim to divide the assets in a “just and equitable” manner. There are many factors that the courts will take into account. Some of these include:
1. The extent of direct and indirect contributions made by each party:
a. The Court will consider the extent of the contributions made by each party towards obtaining, improving or maintaining the particular asset. Both financial and non-financial contributions will be assessed.
b. Indirect contributions can include many things. For instance, helping or supporting the other party’s endeavours, contributing to the welfare of the family, maintaining the household etc all count as indirect contributions.
2. Agreements between the parties prior to divorce – the court will strive to take into consideration and give effect to agreements made between the parties prior to the divorce. One example of such an agreement include pre-nuptial agreements.
3. Needs of the children to the marriage – this is often an important factor considered by the courts. The courts will take into account the needs of the children and the needs of the party who obtained care and control of the child.
4. Whether each party can support themselves – earning capacity and financial ability of the parties are relevant factors.
5. Other considerations may include debts owed, whether a party is able to secure a roof over his/her head, standard of living previously enjoyed by the party, needs of the parties etc.
Possible orders made by the court
Following a consideration of all the relevant factors, the court may make one or more of the following orders:
1. Order the division of assets in a certain way;
2. Order the vesting of any matrimonial asset owned by both parties jointly in both the parties in such shares as the Court considers just and equitable
3. Order the sale of property followed by the division of proceeds;
4. Order that a matrimonial asset, or the sale proceeds thereof, to be vested in any person to be held on trust;
5. Order for the payment of a sum of money by one party to the other;
6. Grant a right to either party for such period as the court deems fit, the right to occupy the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party; and
7. Postponing the sale in any matrimonial asset to a later date or to a time when the court thinks fit.
For further legal assistance to determine your rights upon divorce, please contact a good divorce lawyer in Singapore with extensive experience in handling high net worth disputes in matrimonial asset division.