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VIG v VIH [2020] SGHCF 16

Outcome: Orders made

Facts

1.           The matters to be decided by the court included the division of assets, custody, care and control of the Children, maintenance for the Wife and Children, and costs. As regards the division of assets, the Wife argued that two properties held in parties’ joint names and the Husband’s sole name respectively (“Properties”) should be held on trust for the Children under s 112(5)(d) of the Women’s Charter 1961 (“Charter”). The Wife was also of the position that the Husband’s entitlement to shares were to be included in the matrimonial pool for division.

Court’s Decision:

2.           On the division of assets, the court arrived at a final division ratio of 70:30 in favour of the Husband. In doing so, the court (a) declined to subject the Properties to a trust for the Children; and (b) excluded the portion of the Husband’s entitlement to shares conditional on work done and targets achieved after the date of interim judgment.

3.            S112(5)(d) of the Charter has to be viewed in the context of s 112 of the Charter as a whole, to appropriately understand its nature. S 112(5) of the Charter accordingly only provides examples of orders that supplement and give effect to the primary orders for the division of matrimonial assets under s 112(1) of the Charter. It can be distinguished from s 115(2) of the Charter which provides for the power to order security to ensure sufficient assets remain available for payment of maintenance. The court must first divide the matrimonial assets based on what is just and equitable, and only after determining the appropriate orders should the court consider what other orders (including a s 112(5)(d) order) are necessary or expedient to give effect to the orders for division of matrimonial assets: at [31] to [33] and [35].

4.           Concerns such as securing the children’s future, and catering for a party’s assumption of financial risks in the future, are better addressed through maintenance. The division of matrimonial assets is not focused on the children’s future well-being, but on the fair apportionment of economic fruits of the marriage between the spouses. Where there is no existing trust over properties in question, the court does not have the power to order that the properties be held on trust before considering how the matrimonial assets should be divided: at [35].

5.           Contractual entitlement to shares upon satisfaction of certain conditions can theoretically be treated as matrimonial assets, but entitlements to shares obtained during the marriage should not automatically be considered matrimonial assets – the court would have to consider the nature of the conditions upon which the party would become entitled to the stock options or shares: at [47] to [49].

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.
2023/01/12

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