Matrimonial Assets Definition- What falls in and what falls out?

Many of my clients are concerned about the matrimonial assets definition in Singapore. What does it cover? Does it cover assets you acquire before the marriage? Does it cover assets which you paid for solely? Does the matrimonial assets definition include gifts and inheritance?

I recently read about how Ms Angeline Francis Khoo, daughter of the 44th richest man in Malaysia gave up her inheritance to marry a man whom her father disapproved of. The senior Mr Khoo is the chairman of Malayan United Industries, which holds substantial stakes in Laura Ashley UK and the Corus group of luxury hotels. When Ms Khoo told her father that she wanted to marry Mr Francis, Mr Khoo expressed his disapproval.

See: “Daughter of Malaysian tycoon Khoo Kay Peng reveals she gave up inheritance to marry for love”, The Straits Times, 2 August 2017

Imagine Ms Khoo inherits a large amount of assets from her father. In the event of a divorce, will Mr Francis get to share in the inheritance? The answer is no, provided that Francis does not improve the inheritance asset substantially.

Under Section 112 of the Women’s Charter (Singapore), the matrimonial assets definition in Singapore covers:

  1. Assets acquired before the marriage which are ordinarily used or enjoyed by the couple or at least one of their children for shelter (eg a home), transportation (eg a car), etc;
  2. Assets acquired before the marriage which are substantially improved during the marriage by the other party; and
  3. Assets acquired after the marriage.

However, the matrimonial assets definition does not cover assets (non-matrimonial home) which one party receives by way of gift or inheritance and has not been substantially improved during the marriage by the other party.

Find out the different ways to protect your assets. A prenuptial agreement, for instance, may be suitable in Ms Khoo’s case.

The matrimonial assets definition may not be easily understandable. Contact us if you need clarification on the matrimonial assets definition!

You may also be interested to read more about:

1. Divorce and Separation

2. Annulment (Nullity) of Marriage

3. Children’s Issues

4. Matrimonial Assets

5. Maintenance Issues (Alimony)

6. Family Violence


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