DOES FAULT MATTER IN DIVORCE?
Divorce is one of the most traumatic experiences you ever experience. If you are planning to divorce, it is important to do so with eyes wide open, fully aware of what to expect and how it will affect you financially as well as emotionally. One of the first things you should understand is the concept of “fault” and whether it plays any decision making role in division of matrimonial assets. It is important to understand this first because we get many enquiries from clients who are keen to establish (at all costs) that their spouse is at fault in the belief that this will entitle them to a better outcome.
Does it matter who files for divorce?
There is a myth that the person who files for divorce (the plaintiff) will get a better deal, simply because the other spouse (the defendant) is at fault. This is not true. The plaintiff does not get a better outcome when it comes to children custody, division of assets and maintenance. There is therefore no rush for you to file for divorce. It may be better to talk it out with your spouse to see if you can avoid a divorce. If you cannot, discuss whether you can have an amicable divorce.
The position of the hardworking and blameless spouse
It is also important to note that the spouse who does not want a divorce – and who may be blameless in the marriage – does not get an advantage when it comes to division of assets.
We have come across many aggrieved and hardworking spouses of long marriages who do not wish to divorce, but whose spouse wants one. The aggrieved, hard working and blameless spouse may feel that they have done nothing wrong, but they will likely be ordered to share a substantial part of matrimonial assets with the spouse who may have found someone new and who wants a divorce. The hardworking and blameless spouse might want to persuade the court that the other spouse is at fault for the end of the marriage so as to get the the court to award an unequal division of the assets or not award spousal maintenance.
Generally, however, the court will not look at fault when it comes to deciding on division of matrimonial assets or children custody. Thus, who is to be blamed for the marriage breaking down does not affect how monies are be shared out. Fault does not play a part in the division of assets, even if the defendant committed adultery or had committed violence against the spouse.
It is thus a myth that the person to blame for the break down will be financially worse off than the victim of the adulterous behaviour. Instead, a court’s analysis of a fair and equitable award will focus almost on the following factors set out in section 112(2) of the Women’s Charter:
- The extent of financial contributions towards these assets.
- The extent of non-financial contributions towards the welfare of the family.
- Debt owed.
- The needs of the child.
- Any pre-nuptial agreements towards the divisions of assets.
- The financial independence of each party after divorce.
- The needs of each party after divorce.
If you are going through a divorce, it is important to talk to a specialist family lawyer who can advise you of what you should do, and what your entitlement is. At PKWA Law, we will work closely with you to identify the factors that can help you in division of matrimonial assets.
ABOUT PKWA FAMILY LAW
At PKWA Law, our team of Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore family lawyers by respected independent legal publications such as Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review, Global Law Experts and Doyle’s Guide to Singapore Family Lawyers. Contact us at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation if you have any queries regarding division of matrimonial assets.