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VOU v VOT [2021] SGHCF 6

Outcome: Appeal dismissed


1 The Wife appealed against the District Judge’s decision to dismiss her claim for maintenance. Parties lived together as a married couple for about six months and did not have any children to the marriage, but had cohabited for approximately four years prior to the marriage.

Court’s Decision:

2 A party seeking monthly maintenance on the basis that the same sum had been provided during cohabitation was in effect seeking a form of “palimony”. However, under the law, the fact and circumstances of parties’ pre-marital cohabitation cannot be considered in deciding on the ancillary matters upon a divorce, even if parties had been in a longer relationship. The court’s power to order spousal maintenance under s 113 of the Women’s Charter 1961 arises only upon parties’ marriage or divorce, and the factors to be considered under s 114 of the Women’s Charter 1961 when ordering maintenance do not refer to pre-marriage circumstances: at [10].

3 To rely on the principle of financial preservation (see s 114(2) of the Women’s Charter 1961), the evidence of parties’ alleged high standard of living during the marriage cannot be scant and unconvincing. There would not be any alleged “lifestyle during the marriage” to be sustained if parties were married only for a short period: at [11].

4 Although the court can consider parties’ conduct as a factor under s 114(2) of the Women’s Charter 1961, there is no legal basis to grant an order for maintenance purely on grounds that the other party had broken his or her various promises or assurances to provide for one’s needs: at [14].

5 While a party’s contributions towards his or her spouse’s maintenance during pre-marital cohabitation cannot be relied on upon the breakdown of the marriage, parties’ agreement on the same, if recorded in a pre-marital agreement or deed of separation, could be given some weight: at [15].

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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