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TND v TNC and another appeal [2017] SGCA 34

Outcome: Appeal allowed in part


1 Husband and wife appealed against the Judge’s decision on the division of matrimonial assets. The main issues involve the operative date of valuation of assets should be, the valuation of the total pool of matrimonial assets and whether certain items ought to have been included in the pool of matrimonial assets. 

Court’s Decision:

2 The Court of Appeal held that the Judge erred in using the interim judgment date as the operative date of valuation of the matrimonial assets instead of the date of the Ancillary Matter hearing (the “AM date”). The Judge also erred in not taking certain liabilities into account: at [104].

3 Once an asset is regarded as a matrimonial asset to be divided, then for the purposes of determining its value, it must be assessed as at the date of the AM. The discretion to depart from the AM date as the date of valuation is limited to situations where such departure is warranted by the facts: at [19]

4 The fact that the date of the interim judgment was the date when the parties’ relationship and their intention to jointly accumulate matrimonial assets had practically ended should not be given much or any weight. This is because it will almost invariably be the case that parties’ relationship and their intention to jointly accumulate matrimonial assets will have ended at least by the time an interim judgment is given. More compelling facts are required: at [22].

5 The court cautioned that the onus is on parties to set their positions clearly regarding the appropriate date of valuation. Where, with the benefit of legal advice, the parties agree on a particular date as the date of valuation of the matrimonial assets, a judge should generally adopt that agreed date unless there is a good reason not to do so. Where the parties had not, however, agreed to a date at first instance, they cannot appeal against the date chosen by the judge simply because they subsequently agree on an alternative date: at [24].  

6 Section 112(10)(a)(i) of the Women’s Charter (353, 2009 Rev Ed) by which an asset acquired before marriage could be transformed to become a matrimonial asset did not lose its character as a matrimonial asset simply because the parties had moved out: at [34].  

7 The purpose of s 112(10)(a)(i) is to expand the pool of matrimonial assets to cover those which the parties have treated as part of their domestic lives together, irrespective of when the same were acquired. However, this does not mandate that such an asset be divided in exactly the same way as assets acquired during the marriage would be. The court will have the discretion to divide it in such manner as may be most equitable bearing in mind the nature of the asset, how it was paid for, and the length of time during which the parties ordinarily used or enjoyed it during the marriage: at [35]

The full text of the decision can be found here.

This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.

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