For couples who own a HDB flat and are wondering what happens to the flat after the divorce, this article will explain the processes, and what happens.
Firstly, you and your spouse will need to mutually agree on what should happen to the flat after divorce. Is one of you going to pass on full ownership of the flat to the other? Or do you both plan to sell the flat and split the earnings to certain specifications?
If both of you are unable to come to an agreement, then the court will decide looking at Parties’ direct and indirect contributions.
What Does The Court Do?
In simple terms, the court will decide what happens to the HDB flat after divorce. During this process, the court will also divide all the matrimonial assets that the couple cannot agree on.
According to the Women’s Charter, the term “matrimonial assets” is defined to be an asset of any nature that was acquired during marriage by either or both parties. If the asset was bought by one of the parties before marriage, then it will depend on whether it was ordinarily used or enjoyed by both parties for either shelter, transportation, household, education, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes after marriage.
A matrimonial asset can also refer to an asset that was ‘substantially improved’ during the marriage by the other party, or both parties. One party cannot claim that they have an interest in an HDB flat owned by the other party simply because they were both married.
Dividing a HDB Flat as a Matrimonial Asset
During this process, the court will issue an order such as:
- Requiring one spouse to transfer their interest in the flat to the other spouse or;
- Requiring the flat to be sold, and proceeds divided between both parties in a certain way.
This means the matrimonial asset may not necessarily be divided equally. One of the factors behind this could be the gap between the respective financial contributions towards the purchase of the asset.
The court’s decision on dividing the matrimonial asset depends on various factors, some of which can be found in section 112(2) of the Women’s Charter:
- The extent of contributions each party made towards acquiring, improving or maintaining the asset
- Debt owing, or obligation incurred or undertaken for the benefit of any child of the marriage
- How much each party has contributed towards the family’s welfare, including caring for dependents on either party.
- A deed of separation, or any agreement made between both parties with respect to the ownership and division of the asset.
- Assistance given by one party to the other, both material and immaterial. This could also mean helping the other party out with daily tasks.
- Was there any benefit enjoyed by one party in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party like rent-free occupation?
- If there is a child, or children involved, their needs.
- The length of the marriage is also a factor
- Each party’s financial needs based on their income and lifestyle
These are just some of the factors that will be considered by the court when deciding the division of matrimonial assets.
What if You Are Entitled to Retain the HDB Flat After Divorce?
Provided your spouse agrees to transfer their interest in the flat to you, or the court orders it. This does not necessarily mean you will get to keep the flat. To be able to own a HDB flat, you will still need to fulfil HDB’s eligibility conditions.
- You have care and control of your children
- You are eligible under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme
For the latter, you will need to be a Singapore citizen, at least 35 years old and the flat is a resale flat purchased from the open market without the CPF Housing Grant for Family.
If you had bought the flat directly from HDB, or using the grant, then you must satisfy the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period before you can retain the flat under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme.
You may also include another person to retain the flat with but this is subject to HDB’s requirements.
If you are unable to meet any of the conditions above, and both you and your spouse have not completed the 5-year MOP, then the flat will have to be returned to HDB at the prevailing compensation price subject to HDB’s approval.
How Are Sales Proceeds Divided After a HDB Flat is Sold?
Both you and your spouse can agree on the proportion of the split but in the event both parties are unable to come to a reasonable conclusion, the court will decide based on whether the sale proceeds are considered ‘matrimonial assets’ and the various factors listed above.
If the marriage is void or annulled, you may have to dispose of the flat.
Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction.
There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.