Property Legal Woes – Financial Risk of Singaporean Divorcing Foreign Spouse

Found this article online and I think this is something that we should archive and share, maybe we should get a legal panel for advice as well on properties when it comes to relationship encumbrance.

Question

I AM MARRIED to a foreigner and we have a two-year-old child. After living abroad, I am now back in Singapore because our marriage is on the rocks.
My husband has a girlfriend and intends to file for divorce.

I have not been working since I married and moved overseas.

We own a property in Singapore which was bought solely under my name with my husband as the guarantor. Does that mean the house cannot be sold without my consent and that my husband, as the guarantor, has no alternative but to continue to service the loan?

Does he have the right to call for a sale of the house once he files for divorce?

Does he have the right to ask for a share of the sales proceeds since he has been the one servicing the loan from the start?

In addition, he bought shares and bonds under my name. Can I assume there is no dispute on the ownership?

As for child custody, how should I fight for it?

Answer from Justin Wee, a Solicitor from Loke & Seah Advocates & Solicitors

ASSUMING that the loan is secured on a mortgage of the property, there will be obligations on both your husband who is the guarantor and yourself as mortgagor to service the loan.

If your husband ceases repayment of the loan, the lender may look to you for repayment even though your husband has been servicing the loan since day one.
As your husband is not a registered proprietor of the property, he cannot unilaterally sell or otherwise dispose of the property without your consent.
Depending on the circumstances, if the property is considered a gift from your husband to you, he may not be able to ask for a monetary share when the property is sold.

In this regard, the law presumes there is a gift from the husband to the wife but this presumption may be rebutted by contrary evidence.

The same rebuttable presumption applies to assets like shares and bonds that are purchased in your name.

On the question of the custody of your child, the fact that you are not working does not mean that custody of the child will be given to your spouse as the court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child.

Moreover, there are provisions entitling you to obtain maintenance for yourself and your child.

As for fighting for custody of the child, it is best that you provide the full facts of your case to a lawyer as there needs to be a strategy put in place.

Depending on the circumstances, it can be a complex issue which cannot be fully dealt with in this space.

Written by Benson Koh
Benson Koh is a professional real estate realtor with over 11 years of experience specializing in all forms of real estate consultancy and brokeraging of different segments from regal homes to commercial spaces. Also a boutique developer, he manages bothSRI5000 Developments which concentrates on landed homes as part of his land bank segment and Singapore Realtors Inc (SRI), a real estate agency which has over 7 years of group experience. You can reach him here via various channels. [ Facebook | Linkedin | Twitter | RSS Feed ]