Family Law – Division of Matrimonial Assets
CLB v CLC (2021) – Appellate Division of the High Court disagrees with High Court Judge at first instance and reaffirms inheritance moneys stays with the party who makes such a claim and “did not lose their character as gifts or inheritance”.
Burden of Proof :The burden of proving that a disputed matrimonial asset is inherited remains with the party asserting that claim.
Commingling with matrimonial assets may not transform inheritance moneys into matrimonial assets just because they are no longer separate identifiable.
Party asserting asset must prove “substantial improvement” under Section 112(10) (a) (i) or (ii) of Women’s Charter.
Adverse Inference may not be so easy to draw against the party who asserts and concealment may need to be shown. BPC v BPB and another appeal (2019) 1SLR 608
Indirect Contributions – accepted and not overturned as there was evidence supporting this
WAS v WAT (2022)
11 yr marriage no children
Disputed loan form third party not allowed to form matrimonial assets
Premiums paid for insurance policy before marriage deducted from surrender value of policy as this cannot form part of matrimonial asset pool.
VYP v VYQ (2021)
Shared care and control – children aged 7,6 and 2 – only suitable where parties not hostile towards each other and not disruptive to school going children
VXM v VXN (2021)
Sole care and control given to mother though shared care and control applied for as it was determined that father as breadwinner would have little time to spend with children even though had strong bond with children
Variation of Consent Orders – terms agreed between husband and wife
VWQ v VWR (2022)
Court would be slow to vary a consent order agreed between the parties even if husband claims no longer able to work or co-owner’s rights affected.
VLI v VLJ (2022)
Singapore Court cannot compel parent to apply for citizenship on application of another parent.
VUW & Ors v VUT & Anor and other appeals (2021)
Friends vs Relatives as Deputies of 71 yr old dementia P who was childless widow
As there was serious concerns as to why the patient had managed patient’s monies and how it came to be that they were made beneficiaries of patient’s will Court felt that family overrode friends as having permanence. Also patient’s friends had breached earlier court order allowing family to see patient.
GDR & Ors v GDl & Ors (2022)
Analysis of wording in will showed maintenance of daughters from daughter’s share of estate took precedence even if debts payable by the estate exceeded the assets of the estate.
2 year Commercial Tenancy
Dathena v Justco (Singapore) Ltd (2021)
Suit by Justco as landlord against tenant failed on 2 counts. Inability to perform contract was recognized due to COVID inspite of absence of termination clause as is customary for all tenancies.
The English common law doctrine of frustration which is law in Singapore under Section 2 of the Frustrated Contracts Act came to the rescue of the party in breach who could not perform due to COVID.
High Court also considered that landlord’s contract was grossly unfair against the tenant and considered the age old English common law doctrine of “contra proferentem” or UNFAIR CONTRACT TERMS ACT (UCTA) against the landlord who had provided the template contract.
Court implied notice to terminate given that the landlord had far superior rights to terminate and even an indemnity as against the tenant.
Even a Co working space operator was unable to enforce a 2 year contract against the tenant, a cyber security company.
Based on the facts of this case it is possible for contracting parties to rely on frustrating events to discharge themselves from contractual obligations, courts would be keen to examine terms of contracts which are unduly unfair to one party over the other.
While possible to argue that the finding in this case relied heavily on COVID 19 as a frustrating event it will do well for parties to now ensure that tenancies are crafted such that they cannot be construed as one-sided.
Contact us for contract review prior to signing your contracts.
- Whether illegitimate children (born out of wedlock) are entitled to claim maintenance from the Deceased’s estate?
The relevant provision in Inheritance (Family Provision) Act applies to legitimate children, which includes adopted children but does not included illegitimate children.
In AAG v Estate of AAH, deceased  SGCA 56, the Court of Appeal discussed whether illegitimate children has a claim in deceased’s estate for maintenance. The factor the court took into account is that to allow an illegitimate child to claim maintenance from the deceased’s estate is equivalent to allowing an illegitimate child to make a direct claim for a share in the deceased’s estate which is contrary to the Intestate Succession Act that only allows claim from legitimate children.
- What about step-children and whether they are entitled to claim from the deceased’s estate?
The court’s position on claims by step-children is similar to illegitimate children.
In Low Guang Hong David and others v Suryono Wino Goei  SGHC 93, the HC respected Parliament’s intention in which there was no discussion of provision for step-children during their parliamentary debates or reports. HC reminded the importance of a will in the event a step-parent wishes for the step-child to get a share of his estate.
- Whether illegitimate children entitled to inherit under their mother’s estate?
Illegitimate children are entitled to inherit part or whole of their biological mother’s estate. However, they can do so only if the mother dies without a will and she has no legitimate children. This shows the existence of a priority in inheritance where the illegitimate children usually rank below the spouse of the deceased and their legitimate children.
In Lim Weipin and another v Lim Boh Chuan and others  3 SLR 423;  SGHC 99, the HC stressed the importance between biological child and legitimate child. Plaintiff in the case was the biological daughter but an illegitimate child of the deceased. She was unable to provide sufficient evidence to show that she was legitimised in accordance with the law even though her parents were married to each other. As such, her claim failed.
- Whether adoption of an illegitimate child by an unwed biological mother legalises a child born out of marriage?
Adoption is the great equaliser and will treat the biological mother and child as lawful parents. Usually such adoption takes place after the Husband/Wife marries the spouse who is not the biological parent of the child so that the spouse becomes the legal parent of the child. Child must get new birth certificate with the adoptive parents’ name.