Matrimonial assets - what are 'indirect contributions'?
In deciding on division of matrimonial assets, the court must make a finding on parties' direct and indirect contributions.
What are 'indirect contributions'?
Indirect contributions consists of:
(i) non-financial contributions such as looking after the household and caring for the family, and
(ii) indirect financial contributions for the benefit of the family.
Evidence for non-financial contributions would usually come in the form of the parties‟ own assertions in their affidavits. It is not uncommon that there is little or no evidence to substantiate. The court often gets mired in numerous unpleasant cross-allegations between the parties, and would find it difficult to tell where the truth lies without independent evidence.
Affidavits by parties who would have first-hand knowledge of the family situation would be helpful, such as from grownup children of the marriage. In Leong Choon Kum v Chia Kin Tuck, for example, the sons had affirmed an affidavit confirming the wife as their principal caregiver. In Tang Ngai Sheung Peggy v Wong Yeu Yu  SGHC 22130, the evidence of the son regarding his parents‟ indirect contributions seemed to be important, as the court quoted the son‟s testimony in its judgment on this matter.
Documentary evidence for indirect financial contributions could be obtained, in the form of bills and receipts – but these are often not kept by parties, especially those who mingle their finances, and where the payments have been made some time back. In Lim Cheok Kwang v Chew Fong Heng Shirley  SGHC 21429, for example, the wife could not prove she paid for furniture and fittings and renovations for matrimonial flat, and the court stated that it could not give credence to her bare assertion that she paid for these items.
(ii)A very wide range of activities can count as indirect contributions – they can range from essential tasks such as cooking for the family and paying the utilities bills, to non-essential ones such as shampooing the other party‟s hair (see Ah So Etee (alias Chua Ming Soo) v Fan Moli  SGHC 14231), and paying for family holidays.
It is worth repeating that when it comes to division of matrimonial assets, the courts have repeatedly and consistently said that it will adopt a 'broad brush' approach and will decide based on what is 'just and equitable.' The courts will not go into a detailed investigation of each and every single expenditure or expense.
Have a question? Contact PKWA Family Law today.
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