As a divorce lawyer in Singapore, I have been asked many times about my opinion on the Women’s Charter Singapore. Many of my clients asked me: is the Women’s Charter unfair?
The Women’s Charter Singapore has evolved over the years. The issues that most of my clients are concerned about are governed by the Women’s Charter Singapore.
Is the Women’s Charter unfair?- Division of matrimonial assets
Under Section 112 of the Women’s Charter, the Family Justice Courts need to consider the following factors in deciding how matrimonial assets are to be divided:
- Contributions by each party towards the acquisition/ improvement/ maintenance of the assets;
- Debt owing by either party for joint benefit;
- Needs of children;
- Indirect contributions by each party to the welfare of the family;
- Any prenuptial agreement/ marriage agreement/ deed of separation relating to the division of assets;
- Any rent-free occupation in the matrimonial home enjoyed by one party; and
- Any support given by one party towards the career of the other.
Is the Women’s Charter unfair in terms of division of matrimonial assets? In this day and age, when more women are working, I would say that the factors in Section 112 of the Women’s Charter are rather gender-neutral.
Is the Women’s Charter unfair?- Custody of children
Is the Women’s Charter unfair?- Maintenance
As of now, only wives and incapacitated husbands have the option to make a claim for maintenance against their spouse.
Everyone wants to be treated fairly under the law.
Case of Lavinia Woodward
I recently read that an Oxford University student who is studying to be a heart surgeon stabbed her lover in the leg. While Lavinia Woodward’s offence would normally result in a prison sentence, the presiding Judge delayed sentencing and gave Woodward a restraining order to stay drug-free and not to re-offend.
Judge Ian Pringle said: “It seems to be me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinary able lady from not following her long-held desire to enter the profession she wishes to, would be a sentence which would be too severe.”
See: Alex Matthews, “Oxford University student who stabbed her Tinder lover in a drink and drug fuelled row could be spared jail by a judge because she’s ‘extraordinary’ and it would damage her surgeon career”, MaiOnline, 16 May 2017
I have seen many negative comments over the report of Lavinia Woodward. While this case is not one based on the Women’s Charter and has nothing to do with Singapore’s laws, I would think that it is unwise to let somebody escape a jail term simply because she is studying medicine at Oxford University.
Similarly, all my clients want to be treated fairly under the law.
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