Family Law-(Division of Matrimonial Assets)

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Pre Marriage Gifts and Gifts During Marriage

UEQ V UEP (2019) SGCA 45

Issue: Whether gift received by spouse prior to marriage and during marriage should be considered as matrimonial assets.

Brief Facts of Case

Husband had been given 20,000 shares in the family business prior to marriage. Wife married the Husband and quit her job and work in the family business. The business grew and thereby increasing the value of the shares from $1 per share to $3.63 per share. The Husband received another 60,000 share in the family business but at that time of this gift wife had stopped working for the business.

The Wife argued that the 80,000 (comprising of the 20000 shares and the 60000) should be treated a matrimonial assets.

Court of Appeal decided that only 20,000 shares should be taken into account as matrimonial property as the Wife had substantially improved the value of the shares due to her involvement n the business.  The 60000 was a gift to the Husband during the marriage and the Wife had stopped working in the family business and did not any way contribute to the enhancement of the shares.

Section 112 of Women’s Charter

S. 112 (10)  In this section, “matrimonial asset” means –

(a) any asset acquired before the marriage  by one party or both parties to the marriage –

(i) ordinarily used or enjoyed by both parties or one or more  of their children while parties are residing together for shelter or transportation or for household, education, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes; or

                (ii) which has been substantially improved during the marriage by the other party or by both parties to the marriage; and

(b) any other asset of any nature acquired during the marriage by one party or both parties to the marriage,

But does not include any asset (not being a matrimonial home) that has been acquired by one party at any time by gift or inheritance and that has not been substantially improved during the marriage by the other party or by both parties to the marriage.

Comments:

It is clear that gifts or inheritance acquired by one spouse prior to or during the marriage cannot be included as a matrimonial asset unless:-

  1. The gift or inheritance was ordinarily used by other spouse or one or more of the children while residing together for purposes set out in S.112 (10)(i) of the Women’s Charter
  2. The gift or inheritance has been substantially improved by other party or by both parties to the marriage.