Outcome: Orders made
1 The parties were married in 2000 in the United Kingdom, and filed for divorce in Singapore on 21 July 2017. Their marriage began to break down in 2016, and the Wife moved out of the premises she rented with the Husband in November 2016. The parties subsequently entered into a deed of arrangement dated 18 January 2017 (“the Deed”). The Deed provided, inter alia, that the Wife could commence divorce proceedings in Singapore after 1 June 2017 if she was still of the view that the marriage had broken down irretrievably, and that such proceedings were to be uncontested. The Deed also set out the appropriate division of assets. The Wife commenced divorce proceedings on 21 July 2017 on the ground that the Husband had behaved in such a way that she could not reasonably be expected to live with him. The Husband contested the divorce, and the interim judgment was granted on 8 November 2018 after trial. One of the key issues was the legal effect of the Deed.
2 The Deed does not appear on its face to be manifestly disadvantageous to either party. It provides that the net value of the immovable properties is to be divided equally. The Husband also had no evidence that showed that he was pressured to enter into the Deed. Indeed, the Wife’s evidence showed that he played an active role in negotiating the Deed’s terms. But the Deed was not a “separation agreement” as it was signed when the Husband still hoped that the parties would remain together. He also did not obtain legal advice when drafting and signing the Deed. His conversations with the Wife leading to the signing of the Deed as well as his subsequent breaches of the Deed in contesting the divorce and in objecting to the proposed division indicate that he entered into the Deed motivated mainly by the prospect of saving the marriage, without knowledge of the legal consequences of doing so and without full consideration of his interests: at .
3 In these circumstances, it would not be fair to give conclusive weight to the Deed. The Court thus did not adopt wholesale the division of matrimonial assets set out in the Deed. Nonetheless, it gave the Deed due weight in my decision on the division of the assets, as part of the exercise of its discretion under s 112(1) read with s 112(2)(e) of the Women’s Charter 1961: at .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.