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Specialist Divorce & Family Lawyer

Straits Times Article – Man wins right to sell share of flat to ex-wife at market value

Yeo & Associates managing director Beatrice Yeo, whose law firm represented the man, said the appeal decision that followed in the High Court is significant in being the first such ruling.

It clarified the position of the appropriate method of valuing the flat that was subject to the MOP, she said.

“Both parties had been stuck as to the use of the market price or the purchase price, the surrender value being pegged at a percentage below the purchase price. The court’s answer is the market price,” Ms Yeo said, noting that the Build-to-Order flat in point was valued at some $545,000 early last year.

REAL WORTH OF FLAT

The surrender value would only be an accurate estimate of the flat’s value if it was actually surrendered to the HDB, which is unlikely to be the case.

JUDICIAL COMMISSIONER TAN PUAY BOON, IN HIS JUDGMENT GROUNDS LAST YEAR.
 

For the best interests of your child, call 62203400 and speak to one of our experienced Family Lawyers to discuss your circumstances and find out how we can help.

URL Links to the articles

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 25 Jan 2021
Author: K.C. Vijayan


https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/man-wins-right-to-sell-share-of-flat-to-ex-wife-at-market-value
https://www.singaporelawwatch.sg/Headlines/Man-wins-right-to-sell-share-of-flat-to-ex-wife-at-market-value

The Court must be satisfied that there must be a material change in circumstances according to section 128 of the Women’s Charter. For example, you or your ex-spouse may have re-married, you may have better living arrangements since the conclusion of the divorce proceedings or you may have switched employment which allows you greater flexibility in caring for your child(ren).

If you feel that you have a case, you most probably have the merits to vary the original court order to better fit the current condition. Experienced Family lawyers are here to assess the merits of your case to see whether there are sufficient factors to satisfy the legal requirements for you to apply for a variation of the original Court Order.

A variation of a Court Order necessitates a formal application to be made into Court – It is not meant to be used as a backdoor to challenge or get around the original Court Order, unless circumstances have shown that it is not in the best interests of your child(ren) to have care and control remain with your ex-spouse.

Even if the Court is satisfied that there is a material change in circumstances that could necessitate a variation of the original Court Order, the Court’s paramount consideration will be the welfare of the child(ren) – Is it in the best interests of the child(ren) for care and control to remain with your ex-spouse, or have care and control of your child(ren) reversed to you? Rather than having to vary the order on care and control, could your/the child(ren)’s grievances be allayed by revising the access orders?

For the best interests of your child, call 62203400 and speak to one of our experienced Family Lawyers to discuss your circumstances and find out how we can help.

In Singapore, divorces are classified as being either contested or uncontested.

Many divorcing clients request their lawyers to “go for uncontested divorce”. But, is this really a matter of choice?

This article seeks to demystify public misconception on what is meant by “uncontested divorce” by way of explaining the different mechanics behind the process of an uncontested divorce.

UNCONTESTED DIVORCE

Uncontested divorces occur when parties are able to come to an full agreement on one of the reasons for the divorce and how the statement of particulars i.e. the “story” of the incidents that happened during the marriage to form the reason for the divorce:

  1. Unreasonable behaviour
  2. Adultery
  3. 3 years’ separation with consent of the other spouse
  4. 4 years’ separation
  5. 2 years’ desertion

Often than not, one spouse thinks that the other spouse had depicted one-sided complaint against the other spouse, some simply thinks that the story for the divorce is a complete lie, which acts as a push factor for the other spouse to file his defence and counterclaim.

To attain a truly uncontested divorce as early in the process as possible, most couples require the help of a professional divorce lawyer who can see both side of the pictures and recommend the most suitable way of writing a story to end the marriage, and at the same time, ensure sufficient particulars in the story for the judge in the Family Justice Courts to grant a divorce.

Along with the story for the breakdown of the marriage leading to a divorce, couples who insisted on going for uncontested divorce should also completely agree to all the ancillary terms which include division of assets, exact amount of child maintenance and spousal maintenance, and all other little details. As long as one issue (be it big or small), turns out to be a point for further discussion or a point of dispute, the whole divorce proceedings is classified as Contested Divorce Proceedings.

Contested Divorce Proceedings can also become uncontested along the way after parties decide to agree on the disputed terms halfway. However, this could only be achieved with negotiations, civil discussions, and exchanges of ideas of how to resolve the differences. It would greatly help and save time and tons of legal fees if a Specialist Divorce Lawyer could be engaged to assist the parties in negotiation and fair assessment of the dispute.

When 100% of the divorce and ancillary matters are resolved and agreed upon, your Family Lawyer will draft the terms in a professional and workable manner which would encapsulate all of the principles and nuances of parties’ agreement, along with compatibility with current legislations and laws relating to CPF and HDB etc.

Many law firms advertise for very low fees for the term uncontested divorce (ranging from $800-$1500) which includes only drafting of court documents and filing of documents to the courts without helping parties to come to a settlement or helping them understand what the legal rights are and the implication that they might face in the future with the kind of agreement both laymen attained together. The cheap divorce lawyers for uncontested divorce rely on the parties themselves to come to a full agreement.

In Yeolaw, we have the starting price of S$1200-$2200 for Uncontested Divorce Package to commence the divorce proceedings. What sets Yeolaw Family Lawyers’ Uncontested Divorce Package is that it includes not just drafting of court documents and filing of documents to the courts. The full list of services is as follows: –

  1. Professional legal advice on client’s legal entitlement under the current family law, legislation and on the Family Justice Courts’ procedures;
  2. Information gathering and analysis of documents for the purpose of recommending best solution and terms to client’s unique situation;
  3. Negotiation, discussion, or friendly talk to other spouse to work on the terms to ensure higher possibility of settlement’
  4. Drafting full set of court documents;
  5. Filing the signed divorce court documents in the Family Justice Courts of Singapore;
  6. Monitoring the timeline and extracting the Interim Judgment and Certificate for Divorce

Effective negotiation and communication with both parties is essential to get a fair settlement terms as early as possible.

Before your divorce turns contested, please contact Yeolaw Singapore Divorce Lawyers at 62203400 to know your options.

Most divorces in Singapore involve children. From 2008 to 2018, 52-56% of all divorces under the Women’s Charter (Cap 353) involved at least one child below the age of 21.

Divorce is thus a life-changing event not just for spouses, but also for their children. Indeed, even if the divorce is uncontested and relations between both spouses do not seem acrimonious, the exposure of children to inter-parental conflict and separation through divorce can have profound, long-term psychological effects on children.

Children of divorce tend to experience the following:

  • Anger and/or resentment towards either parent, or both parents;
  • Sadness, grief and loss usually due to diminishing contact with the non-custodial parent and his/her extended family, and loss of the former family unit;
  • Denial of the divorce;
  • Being caught in the middle between both parents;
  • Withdrawal (ie, preferring to keep to himself/herself, engaging in anti-social behaviour); and
  • Low self-esteem.

More worryingly, mental health experts have observed increasing numbers of children in Singapore suffering from depression and other mental health issues, with parental divorce often cropping up as a major factor.

How children deal with divorce at different ages

That being said, all children are different. Among other things, the child’s age is a key factor affecting how he/she responds to and makes sense of divorce.

Overall, if the child is young (up to around 9 years old), divorce tends to accentuate his/her dependence. The young child may regress to an earlier state, becoming more reliant on the custodial parent. Whereas, if the child is older (10-12 years old and above), divorce tends to hasten his/her independence. An older child may respond to divorce by behaving more aggressively towards his/her parents and other authority figures.

Babies (up to 1½ years old)

Although babies cannot understand the conflict between their parents, they can perceive tension and changes in their parents’ behaviour, eg if the parents engage in loud quarrels or physical violence. In the long term, the child can exhibit anxiety, neediness and irritability. At the most extreme, he/she may even suffer developmental delay.

Toddlers (1½-3 years old) and nursery/kindergarten-going children (4-6 years old)

Compared with babies, toddlers have a heightened perception of tension and behavioural changes in their parents. The toddler may still be unable to articulate their thoughts or feelings. However, with greater self-awareness at this age, he/she may regress and become more reliant on the custodial parent. He/she may cry more and seek more attention. He/she may even revert to behaviours that he/she has outgrown, eg thumb-sucking and bedwetting. The toddler may resist being left alone and going to sleep at night, and suffer from nightmares.

Nursery/kindergarten-going children will be able understand that their parents are in conflict and are living separately. However, this is difficult for the child to accept. He/she may feel responsible for his/her parents’ divorce, and blame himself/herself for it. Therefore, like a toddler, he/she may exhibit regressive behaviour in order to gain more parental concern and draw both parents back together to care for him/her.

Support for divorcing spouses and their children from the Family Justice Courts (“FJC”)

Together with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (“MSF”) and the Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (“DSSAs”), the Courts have implemented various programmes to help divorcing spouses and their children cope with the social and psychological impact of divorce. This is in line with the Courts’ shift towards a child-centric approach in divorce matters.

The following is a summary of the key programmes aimed at supporting divorcing parents and their children through the divorce process:

Pre-divorce

Mandatory Parenting Programme (“MPP”)- Even before commencing divorce, spouses with children below the age of 21 must undergo the MPP. This is a 2-hour counselling session by DSSA counsellors which seeks to help parents understand and work out post-divorce living arrangements, issues of child custody and access, as well as co-parenting.

After commencing divorce and post-divorce

Compulsory mediation and counselling under the Family Dispute Resolution (“FDR”) Division of the FJC- Divorcing spouses with at least 1 child below the age of 21 are now required by law to undergo mediation and counselling, as part of the divorce proceedings. As divorcing spouses invariably disagree about future living, caregiving and financial matters, children often experience uncertainty and anxiety. FDR mediation and counselling is thus aimed at keeping spouses focused on the welfare of the child in resolving their disagreements. The steps in the FDR mediation and counselling process are as follows:

  1. 1st FDR Conference. Divorcing spouses and their lawyers (if any) attend a conference before a Judge-Mediator and a Court Family Specialist (“CFS”), a trained counsellor specialising in family matters from the Counselling and Psychological Services under the FJC.
  2. Intake and Assessment Session. Divorcing spouses meet with the CFS to work out key issues such as parenting and financial plans, and how best to meet the welfare of the children. The CFS may meet with the spouses jointly or individually. The CFS may conduct one or more further counselling sessions.
  3. Child Inclusive Dispute Resolution sessions (where applicable). If the child is above the age of 7, the CFS may conduct a therapeutic interview with the child to better understand his/her experience of the divorce. The CFS will then communicate the child’s views to the divorcing spouses to assist them in arriving at decisions in the best interests of the child.
  4. Subsequent mediation/co-mediation sessions. If spouses can reach agreement at the counselling sessions, they can enter a draft agreement before the Judge-Mediator at mediation. If there are unresolved issues, these can be resolved at the mediation session(s), or if the presence of the CFS is required, at co-mediation.

Longer-term support. Through FDR mediation and counselling, the CFS can, with the divorcing spouses’ consent, refer them and/or their children to the DSSAs or Family Service Centres (“FSCs”). Programmes provided by the DSSAs are as follows:

  1. Parenting PACT. A one-off, 2-hour consultation session for divorced parents of children below the age of 21, which, among other things, equips parents with an understanding of the impact of divorce on their children and co-parenting strategies.
  2. Supervised Exchange and Visitation Programme (interim measure strictly by Order of Court). If the child has strong reservations, discomfort or even fear of the non-custodial parent, the Court may order that a DSSA counsellor assist the parents and the child in resolving their distrust and strengthening their relationship.
  3. Children in Between. Free workshops organised by DSSAs for divorced parents and children aged 6-15 to help them cope with the divorce.
  4. Longer-term counselling. The DSSAs organise and maintain mutual support groups and counselling services for divorced parents and their children. A list of the current groups and services may be found at https://www.msf.gov.sg/Divorce-Support-Old/Divorce-Support/Divorce-Support-Specialist-Agencies/Pages/DSSA-Programmes.aspx.
  5. Parenting Coordination programme. If relations between divorcing parents are highly acrimonious, the Court may appoint a Parenting Coordinator to assist parents with co-parenting. The Parenting Coordinator does so by acting as a neutral facilitator who helps parents communicate with each other, provides education on co-parenting, and mediates disagreements regarding the child. For instance, Parenting Coordinators may help monitor minor changes to child access arrangements on an ad hoc basis. Parenting Coordinators may be appointed for a duration of 6 months to 2 years. Fees will be payable to Parenting Coordinators.

For advice on these issues speak to one of the fully qualified family lawyers at Yeo & Associates LLC at 62203400

A woman feels threatened or harassed by her husband. She even suffered physical violence for many years, with broken ribs or bruises from the punches. She kept silent because she wished to keep the family intact for the children or she simply does not wish to agitate the husband. This is classic victim of family violence.

What is Family Violence

Under Section 64 of the Women’s Charter, any of the following acts will amount to “Family Violence”:

  • Willfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place, a family member in fear of hurt;
  • Causing hurt to a family member by an act which is known or ought to have been known will result in hurt;
  • Wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against his/her will; and/or
  • Continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause anguish to a family member.

However, Family Justice Courts sees a rise in applications for personal protection either by a husband or a wife against each other after one heated argument, or after a tussle.

Most likely than not, when a spouse brings the police into a family fight or entered the court room to seek an order against the other, the marriage is doom to go towards the path of divorce.

When divorce proceedings start, one may think that scaring the other spouse into agreement to all the terms relating to monies, houses, and children would be reached if they use PPO’s route.

For example, a mother who wishes to have the custody, care and control of the children may stage a fight and appeared like a victim. She would “escape” from the family home the next day bringing the children along with her. Not long, she would be at the Family Justice Courts’ personal protection unit applying for a PPO order against the father. The Court would issue an expedited order (EO), which is a temporary order to restrain the husband not to use violence against the wife pending the finality of the application. PPO application costs a nominal S$1 to apply.
What is detrimental to the father in the said scenario would be the huge time lapse between the start of the PPO application and the final order granting or rejecting of the PPO application of the mother, ranging from 6-24 months. During this period, the father may be too afraid to access to the children; or that the mother would use the EO and pending PPO order against him to prevent him from approaching her.
At the same time, the mother could apply for Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO) to exclude the father from entering into the family home or that he be retrained to a part of the house.
The mother’s PPO application can be used as a tool to separate a child from his father. When the father approaches the mother, the mother simply calls the police and claimed that she has been harassed. The father risks being sent into police custody.
During this long period of wait for the ultimate judgment from the PPO court, the impressionable child might have got used to a life without his father, or the mother would impressed upon the child that the father “abandoned” them or have committed heinous crimes against them. Thus, even if the father proves his innocence by the end of the trial, harm would have been caused to the child.

Who is the winner in this sage?

– father won Olympic gold victory at the PPO court having proved his innocence;
– mother lost in the trial and have to pay legal costs to the father;
– child lost the love of the father, or even lose respect for both father and mother.

The above is all at the cost of the child’s wellbeing.

The Family Justice Courts, like other adversarial court system has to conduct due process to every case that comes before it. However, to prove falsehoods and false narratives of the supposed family violence victims, it takes human resources, time and money.

If a person is in such danger zone of being falsely accused as a family violence perpetrator, it is prudent, not just wise to consult an expert personal protection family lawyer’s advice as soon as practicable. Whoever strikes first using PPO as a tactic may indeed have certain upper hand, unless you are someone who retaliates and has the resources and funds to retaliate.

If you wish to apply for Personal Protection Order of you have received a Summon from PPO court to appear in court to answer to the charges, please call Yeolaw family lawyers on 62203400 to arrange for an immediate discussion. With years of experience acting for either side of the PPO and DEO application, we will be apt to advice you to protect your legal rights.

It is not as simple as “sale of flat” or “transfer flat from husband to wife”. Period.

To have a workable and useful Court Order, you need an experienced family lawyers well-versed in current HDB housing laws, banking rules and rules relating to conveyancing and CPF.

A poorly drafted court order with small but pertinent details missing renders the whole court order useless. It also brings about many problems for HDB officers, CPF Board officers and bankers who assess your mortgage loan.

You will have to spend legal fees again to vary the court order to make it right. This will lead to wasting valuable time and monies and frustration for parties.

Transfer of HDB Flat

Almost every family owns at least one HDB flat in Singapore. When divorce happens, parties will have to split the HDB flat, be it by way of sale or by way of spousal transfer.

Parties will have to consider a list of issues regarding the disposal of the matrimonial home:-

  • Which spouse is to retain the flat?
  • Whether the spouse who wishes to retain the flat in his/her sole name could meet HDB’s eligibility criteria;
  • Whether the spouse who wishes to retain the flat in his/her sole name is financially able to take over the outstanding mortgage loan?
  • Whether the spouse who wishes to retain the flat in his/her sole name could obtain a bank loan to finance to pay to the outgoing spouse the cash portion of the transfer?
  • Whether the spouse who wishes to retain the flat in his/her sole name could repay parts or all of the outgoing spouse’s CPF funds utilized towards the purchase of the flat?

Parent with care and control of child may retain HDB flat less than Minimum Occupation Period of five (5) years

HDB rules state that for the welfare of a young child in a divorce family, one parent who has the child’s care and control (not just custody) will be able to retain the flat even if all the eligibility is not satisfied. It means that as long as one parent is able to afford to take over the full outstanding mortgage loan of the flat, even if he/she has not reached the age of thirty-five (35) or that the flat has not been occupied for a minimum five (5) years, that parent is eligible to take over the flat.

Partial or Full CPF refunds to outgoing spouse

If parties agree in the divorce settlement that the outgoing spouse shall take only partial or no refunds of the CPF monies used to purchase the flat, the outgoing spouse will not be entitled to receive any further refund to his/her CPF Account even if the ex-spouse subsequently disposes of the flat. However, the ex-spouse would be required to refund his/her and the outgoing party’s portion of the CPF monies withdrawn including interest to the ex-spouse’s CPF Account.

You may seek legal advice from your family lawyer at 62203400 whether you may receive a portion of the sale proceeds in the event that the spouse who retained the flat at the time of divorce sells the flat in the future.

What if the Spouse who wishes to retain the flat cannot afford the loan?

It is not automatic that the ex-spouse gets to keep the HDB flat just because the Order of Court dictates so. If any of the conditions cannot be fulfilled, the transfer cannot take place. For instance, if the person who wishes to retain the flat cannot even get HDB loan or private bank loans, then the reality says that this person cannot buy over the flat. The most common oversight is that the party who wishes to retain the flat is unable to take over the outstanding housing loan and/or pay cash consideration to the outgoing party. Lawyer should advise the party on the financial obligations towards the flat upon the transfer to ensure that the terms in the Order of Court is realistic and also cater to unforeseen circumstances where parties can rely on alternative clauses if they were already in the Order of Court in the first place.

Thus, it is important that you seek legal advice on how you could plan to retain the flat as early in the divorce proceedings as possible.

If the Order of Court does not provide an alternative in the event that transfer of flat ownership cannot take place for whatsoever reasons, parties will have to go back to their divorce lawyer to apply for a summons for variation of order to include an order to either transfer the property to the other eligible party or to dispose of the flat. For example, if parties have completed the 5-year MOP, then they may sell the HDB flat on the open market. However, if the MOP has not been met, parties have to return the HDB flat at the prevailing compensation price, subject to HDB’s approval.

Sale of HDB flat

Upon the sale of the flat in the open market, the sale proceeds will be first used to pay off any outstanding housing loan followed by refund of parties’ CPF monies withdrawn together with accrued interest to their CPF Account(s). However, if the selling price (at market value) is insufficient for parties to make the CPF refund, parties need not meet the shortfall with cash. The remaining balance, if any, will be divided between parties in a manner pursuant to the Order of Court. The percentage that each party is entitled to is not by default 50%/50%. This is a misconception. The percentage is either obtained by parties’ agreement or the judge determined the percentage based on parties’ respective direct and indirect contribution to the family and flat.

Is there a need to top up CPF account?

An issue arises when the Order of Court purports to divide the sale proceeds between parties before refund is made to their CPF Account(s) which is in contrary to CPF Board’s regulations. If a party’s share of the sale proceeds is insufficient to refund to his/her CPF Account, he/she will have to top up the shortfall with cash failing which the CPF charge on the flat cannot be discharged and the sale transaction cannot be completed. To overcome this, parties can opt to refund the CPF monies first before dividing the sale proceeds and/or go back to their divorce lawyer to apply for a summons for variation of order to ensure that parties get their fair share of the proceeds, for example including a clause to have CPF Board transfer CPF monies to the other party after the sale has been completed.

Conclusion

Divorce lawyers should be conscious that the terms in the Order of Court might give rise to unintended consequences if insufficient attention is paid while drafting them and should take the time to examine the terms to see if it raises any of the issues identified in this article which might just save a whole lot of costs and inconvenience moving forward.

To minimize your costs, time and distress, it is essential to consult a professional divorce lawyers well-versed in drafting financial settlement terms. Call 62203400 or fill up the Advice Request form for assistance.

Deciding to go through a divorce does not always mean that you will have to “fight” in court against your spouse. In recent years, it is reported that almost seven out of ten divorce cases are settled during mediation without the need for contested hearings.

Pursuant to section 50(3A) of the Women’s Charter, mediation is compulsory for parties who have at least one child who is below 21 years old. They will have to attend mediation and counselling, as ordered by the court after they have filed their relevant divorce papers.

What is mediation and why parties mediate

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process where a neutral third party (either a Judge-Mediator or an Accredited Mediator) will assist the divorcing parties to work through their issues (grounds for divorce and/or ancillary matters) as amicably as possible. A mediator will help parties to focus on the issues being disputed, create an effective and productive platform for parties to communicate, and to help them (along with their lawyers if they are legally represented) to explore mutually acceptable options and solutions.

The benefits of attending a mediation cannot be overstated. Contested trials and hearings can become protracted and time-consuming. Parties will have to continue paying legal fees and costs to prepare and file their further pleadings, affidavits and the other relevant documents for hearing(s). The process and journey to a contested hearing can also be mentally draining and emotionally taxing on them, and their children.

Furthermore, parties generally have a greater control over the outcome of the mediation, as compared to contested hearings. In our experience, consent orders (orders which are recorded during mediation) are generally more likely to be complied by parties than litigated orders. Accordingly, parties do not have to be further embroiled in subsequent court proceedings such as variation of court orders and/or enforcement proceedings.

Role of your family lawyers during mediation

It is important for parties to have experienced family lawyers to guide them during the preparation for their mediation sessions, and to help advance their positions during the mediation. The lawyers will also assist parties to explain to them the current standings on the law related to their issues in dispute, and to explore long-lasting and more sustainable solutions that will be fair and equitable for all parties involved.

When and why mediation may fail sometimes

There are anecdotal cases where parties shared that mediation have not assisted them to achieve more lasting solutions to their disputes. In such cases, our view is that depending on the facts of the case, perhaps it is not so much that the mediation mechanism is not useful or incapable of creating more lasting orders for parties. Rather, it is how the users (divorcing parties) and the stakeholders (mediators, lawyers, counsellors etc) come together to properly utilise the platform to encourage a meaningful communication between parties, and to flesh out the relevant and pertinent information related to the dispute.

Furthermore, some parties may settle for the sake of settling because they do not wish to continue the acrimony between parties and they want to move on from this ordeal as soon as possible. While their intentions are not to be criticised, it is important for parties to also ensure that they have the “correct” attitude when they come to the bargaining table. This means that they should work closely with their lawyers to mediate in good faith. Coming to mediation sessions with an open mind and with a willingness to allow some leeway and compromise does go a long way in making sure that your mediation sessions will be fruitful and productive.

Needless to say, we also recognise the fact that there are those cases where mediation does not help for a variety of reasons, for example, if both parties simply do not wish to budge from their original positions, or if one party does not care to participate in the mediation with an open mind to mediate. At times, some lawyers may also establish that prolonging the mediation process may not be beneficial to their clients and they might be able to better protect their clients’ interests during a hearing.

Whatever it may be, it is most certainly important for clients to speak to their lawyers to explore their matters in-depth and to be availed of the feasibility of their options.

For assistance on Child Focus Resolution Centre (CFRC Mediation) and other Family Law matters, please contact Singapore Divorce Law firm Yeolaw at 62203400 or send Advice Request Form for your expert Divorce Lawyers advice.

An Interim Custody, Care and Control (ICCC) order is the temporary order for care arrangements for the Children of a marriage before a final divorce order is granted.

Reasons for applying for an ICCC Order

The marriage may be failing but couple has not started the divorce proceedings.

Or, the divorce proceedings have just start, depending on Parties’ settlement, or whether there is mediation or even trial, the usual time line from start to end may sometimes take months, even years to completely conclude. Without this Order, one parent may be totally excluded from having access to the children.

You can apply for an ICCC Order at any time during the marriage, the separation or the Court proceedings for a divorce to ensure that your rights to your Child and his welfare are protected. Such situations include but not limited to:-

  1. Your spouse has left the country and is uncontactable. You will require an ICCC Order to dispense with the other parent’s consent with regard to the Child’s matters such as enrolment in schools;
  2. You have been stopped from seeing the Child/or excluded in the making of major decisions for the Child;
  3. Your Child is subjected to physical and mental abuse from your spouse and you are seeking for custodial rights of the Child pending the determination of your application for Personal Protection Order;
  4. Risk of your spouse removing the Child from Singapore;
  5. You might have been chased out of the matrimonial home and the child(ren) remains in the home with your spouse;
  6. You have been restricted by your spouse to visit child(ren);
  7. You have difficulty in accessing to the child(ren);
  8. Your spouse refused to release the child(ren) to you;
  9. Your spouse’s family members who lives with the child(ren) accuses you of trespassing and threatens that you are not allowed to come to their homes;
  10. Your spouse calls the police each and every time you fetch the child(ren);
  11. Your spouse claims that you have committed violence or sexually abusing to the child(ren) etc

A temporary order to ensure that the child(ren)’s rights to access to their parents is thus essential.

The laws governing ICCC

The primary guiding principle for ICCC is the welfare of the Child. Generally, the “welfare of the Child” refers to the overall welfare of the Child, not simply providing monetary or physical comforts.

Welfare includes all aspects of his upbringing including like:

  1. Daily care;
  2. Child’s education;
  3. Health;
  4. Morality;
  5. Religion;
  6. Emotions;

Rights to have access to both parents etc.

Advantages of an ICCC Order

An ICCC Order may become very useful for the ousted parent to continue his role as a parent in the child’s life and prevent any permanence of his/her absence. This also prevents your spouse from alleging that you have no interests in contacting the children and that you are an irresponsible parent.

If you are the parent who wishes to keep the children with you during the breakdown of the marriage or during the divorce proceedings, you may wish to apply for an ICCC order to prevent your spouse from disrupting your child’s life by “snatching” the child away. If you are the parent who has the Child in your care, you have a very strong argument for continuing the status quo in the divorce as the Courts tends to prefer stability and continuity for the Child.

With an order in hand, your spouse may not be able to “snatch” the child away. When you call for police’s help, the police may rely on the Order for ICCC to see who the children should follow.

Limitations of an ICCC Order

Nevertheless, there may be exceptional cases where an ICCC Order may not be immediately effective in compelling the other parent to obey, for instance when the other Party continues to ignore the Order. It may then be necessary for you to take stronger and more punitive actions against your spouse, such as by applying for contempt of Court for the defaulting party’s refusal to comply with the Court Order, which attracts fine or jail term for that spouse.

If you are concerned about the care of your children, do take advice before making any final decisions. We offer a free initial chat with a lawyer so that you can get all the facts about the legal issues.

What happens to your Built-To-Order (“BTO”) Flat in an event of a divorce before the Minimum Occupation Period (“MOP”)?

Firstly, it is useful to calculate the MOP, which is calculated 5 years from the date the keys to the Flat are collected. If the MOP is not reached in the event of an intended divorce, the common perception is that the BTO Flat is to be surrendered to HDB. However, there are a few options that are available, including retaining the Flat.

Wait for the 5-year MOP to pass

While some parties prefer to wait out the 5-year MOP as that the option to sell the flat is available to them, some parties may be placed in a situation where an early closure to their divorce is preferred and waiting for the 5-year to pass is not ideal. If waiting out for the 5-year MOP to pass is an available option, entering into a Deed of Separation would be ideal so that the obligations between parties during the period of separation would be documented.

Taking Over the Flat

A party may elect to transfer his or her share in the Flat if the other party is eligible to retain the Flat under the Single Singapore Citizen (“SSC”) Scheme before the 5-year MOP is fulfilled. The party retaining the Flat would also need to be eligible for loan to retain the flat solely. However, meeting HDB eligibility rules and approval for loans are subjected to considerations such as the existing mortgage loan, the Central Provident Fund (“CPF”) refunds, and so on.

Appeal to HDB to Sell the Flat

If the above 2 options are not available, parties may attempt to make an appeal to the HDB to sell the Flat in the open market before the 5-year MOP. Each appeal application is considered on a case-by-case basis. In the event that the appeal to HDB is successful, the Flat can be sold in the open market.

Before the Flat is sold, parties should consider and agree on a few factors:

  1. When the Flat is to be sold;
  2. Whether there should be a sole or joint conduct to the sale of the Flat;
  3. What should be done with the balance sale proceeds (usually after redeeming the outstanding mortgage loan, refunding of parties’ CPF monies including accrued interest, payment of costs and expenses of sale);
  4. What would be done if the sale proceeds are insufficient to repay the outstanding mortgage loan and/or parties’ CPF monies withdrawn for the purchase of the Flat.

The above list is non-exhaustive.

Surrender the Flat to HDB

Finally, if neither of the above options are available, parties are to surrender the Flat to HDB. BTO Flats surrendered to HDB are normally valued below the purchase price and would usually result in a loss. Nonetheless, parties should consider the proportions which the losses or profits, if any, is to be apportioned.

An experienced family lawyer will know how to advise you to minimize losses to your newly acquired asset. In many cases, our lawyers have the expertise to help you keep the flat, or keep the damages to the lowest. Consult a professional family lawyer at Yeo & Associate LLC on 62203400.

The current economic situation in Singapore may be worrying for some divorcing couples, especially those facing financial uncertainties like retrenchment or business failures. Some divorcing couples may wish to relook into the settlement agreement reached just about a few months ago before government’s announcement of “circuit breaker” lockdown.

Some fathers may not be able to afford the agreed amount for child maintenance; or that they may reconsider whether to put the matrimonial flat up for sale in the gloomy open market.

Many would move on to complete the divorce when the relationship is beyond salvage. However, the Family Justice Courts of Singapore issues the final certificate for divorce (Divorce Certificate) only when the ancillary matters are fully settled.

In such condition, your expert Singapore Divorce Lawyer may discuss the following with you:-

  • You have reached a complete settlement to all the terms by way of mediation. Whilst the financial landscape has been turbulent due to coronavirus, you may attempt to have further discussion to include short-term arrangement for child maintenance if your income is affected,
  • If you are still in the process of reaching a financial settlement, you may not be too ready to offer more than you could afford and it is a reasonable ground to offer lesser amount upon production of your salary slip;
  • HDB flats or other private properties You may wish to extend the deadline to sell your house;
  • Valuation price of the house You may agree with your spouse on the valuation price if the house is to be transferred to one party after divorce. The outgoing party may not suffer too much loss due to the lowered valuation price. Agreed valuation price may be more reasonable given the situation that the property market is falling drastically;
  • Assets– Although the value of stocks and shares, which is classified as matrimonial assets, may have fallen over recent weeks, the price of gold, which likewise is a matrimonial asset, has surged. Work the table of assets carefully to know what to split as joint assets and how to preserve the value of the assets as much as possible;

The Operation of the Family Justice Courts Also Affected by Covid-19

It is inevitable that the operation of any organisation including the Courts is affected during this pandemic. The type of cases deemed as “essential” and “urgent” may not be apparent, as of now. Your case is likely delayed as opposed to the normal timelines.

Discuss your options with a firm of specialist divorce lawyers, although working from home at the moment, continues to be ready to go through your issues with you, assist you with the preparation of the documents and information, strategize your case etc.

Call Yeolaw Family Lawyers at 62203400 for a non-obligatory discussion on procedures and costs.

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