Divorce in Singapore – Rights of Husband and Wife
There is a misconception that in a divorce in Singapore, the women have the upper hand because of the Women’s Charter . For example, there is the popular belief that a woman is guaranteed maintenance from her husband upon a divorce. There is also the belief that custody of children will always go to the wife.
Both beliefs above are not correct.
In a divorce in Singapore, the courts have repeatedly stressed – and pass down judgments – that a marriage is a partnership between a man and a woman and their contributions are equally important. In every case, the court tries to arrive at a decision that is “just and equitable.”
Below are some of the rights of men and women in a divorce.
Rights of a woman in divorce
1. A married woman whose husband fails to provide her reasonable maintenance may apply for her maintenance. She can apply for maintenance even if there is no divorce action.
2. The court can order division of matrimonial assets upon divorce – even if the woman did not contribute to it. The court will devide the assets if it is “just and equitable” to do so. What is “just and equitable” will depend on the facts of the case. Generally, the longer the marriage, and the more a woman has contributed in direct and indirect contributions to the family, the more she will get for division of matrimonial assets. The reverse is also true.
3. The court can order a man to pay maintenance of his wife upon divorce, separation or annulment of marriage.
4. A woman is entitled to ask for custody, care and control of the children in a divorce. It is irrelevant if she has no income.
5. The debts of the husband does not become the debts of the wife.
Rights of the man in divorce
1. If the man is at fault for causing the marriage to break down, the court does not penalize him by giving custody of the children to the wife or by giving more assets to the wife. The reason for the divorce is irrelevant.
2. If the marriage is short, and the wife is working, it is possible that the wife will get little or no maintenance.
3. A man can ask for custody, care and control of the children. It is not a given that custody, care and control will always go to the mother. It all depends on the circumstances of the case.
4. It is now possible for a man who is unable to work because of physical or mental disabilities to ask the wife for maintenance.