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Singapore Divorce Lawyer - Lam & Co Blog

For most people, divorce is a rare and scary thing. You simply do not have any previous experience with it and there are many horror stories you have heard from your friends. Lam & Co.'s expert divorce lawyers are focused on sharing information with you to assist you as much as possible in making painless and correct decisions.
Philip Lam - Singapore Divorce Lawyer

Does an ex-wife really get half the man's money?

Of the people who've advised me to just marry a rich man instead of slave away to earn money, there have been close friends, superiors at work and even complete strangers here in sunny Singapore. At least half have concluded with a triumphant, "even better, get a divorce and take half his money!"

Fortunately or unfortunately, while maintenance payments are often made out to ex-wives, it's a myth that divorce automatically entitles her to half the ex-husband's money.


If you're planning to serve divorce papers on a soon-to-be-ex spouse, it's important to know why maintenance is even ordered. The court isn't going to just order one party to pay the other because he cheated or stopped putting in effort after 10 years.

In addition, you have to bear in mind that the court often orders division of property as well, which will affect the amount of maintenance that must be paid.

There are two reasons maintenance is ordered:

1. Child maintenance:

One of the biggest decisions the court will be making is which parent gets custody, as well as care and control of the child. Once it is decided who the child will live with, the court can order any or both of the parents to pay maintenance for the child. The parent who has custody, care and control of the child can also receive maintenance from the remaining parent. This maintenance is usually payable only until the child turns 21.

2. Maintenance for ex-wife:

This is the kind of maintenance people tend to find the most interesting, and the most scandalous. The idea is that the court will try to let the ex-wife enjoy the same standard of living as they would have if their marriage hadn't flopped. This is usually supposed to continue till one of them dies, or the wife remarries. In practice, the actual amount tends to be lower than people imagine.


Nadia, a lawyer at Kalco Law who handles divorce matters, says the ways in which assets are divided and orders to pay maintenance are made can differ wildly depending on the circumstances of the marriage.

However, guys can rest assured that in practice, it is highly unlikely the court will order the husband to divide half his assets AND pay half his salary to the wife for the rest of his life in a divorce in Singapore.

Nadia says, "The division of assets (including the HDB flat) depends on each party's contribution to the assets over the course of the marriage. The contribution can also be non-monetary e.g. tending to household chores. However, if there is little or no contribution by the wife to a short-term and childless marriage, then the chances of her obtaining a share of the assets are slim."

Many factors are considered when deciding on the amount to be paid, and it is quite difficult to predict beforehand exactly how much one will get. Some of the factors the judge will consider include:

Financial standing and earning capacity of both parties: A very wealth ex-husband is likely to pay more in maintenance to his ex-wife than a very poor one, all other factors being equal. Conversely, a very wealthy ex-wife with a high paying career is likely to get less than a housewife without higher educational qualifications, all other factors being equal.

Standard of living enjoyed by both parties during the marriage: If you lived a very modest lifestyle when you were married, don't expect to transform into Cinderella after finding her glass slipper once you're divorced.

Ages of the parties: If the ex-wife is older, the court is more likely to order higher maintenance payments.

Duration of the marriage: If you've only been married for a year, don't expect to get much, if anything at all, especially if no kids are involved. Nadia says, "The longer the marriage, the higher the chances of the ex-wife obtaining a higher share of the matrimonial assets. This is because more often than not, an individual's contribution (direct or indirect, financial or non-financial) is greater the longer the marriage."'

Contributions made to the family: Generally, the more a party has contributed to the family, the more favourably the court will look upon them. Contributions can include paying for the family home and looking after the children.


The short answer is that yes, in some instances an ex-wife can get nothing in a divorce in Singapore.

"If the marriage was a short and childless one and/or she is more than able to support herself on her monthly income, it is possible for the ex-wife to get no maintenance," Nadia says.

Husbands can forget about claiming maintenance even if they marry the richest woman on the island, as Singapore law does not allow it. Sorry, guys.

So the next time you hear someone talking about marrying rich men, you have another reason to shut them up.

This article was first published in Money Smart.SG

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Philip Lam - Singapore Divorce Lawyer


First of all, it is important to understand that the Women's Charter does not say that the children must follow the mother. It says that "the paramount consideration shall be the welfare of the child and subject to this, the court shall have regard to" the parents' wishes and (if the child is able to express an independent opinion) the child's wishes. (Section 125)

Second, crystal clear cut cases are rare. For example, cases where there is clear evidence that the mother has mental issues and is likely to hurt the children or where the mother has been convicted of incest are quite clear cases. However, by their nature, such cases are rare.

Third, in many cases, the Court will give significant weight to certain factors:

Naturally, the age of the child is an important factor.

The party providing a stable environment for the child (leading up to the divorce) is likely to gain a significant advantage. This is because the Court generally wants to preserve the stability already existing around the child (and avoid upsetting the established routine). 

Therefore, Lam & Co. can help you assess who is more likely to get the child in the following situations:

  1. ‚ÄčThe child has just been born and the mother has been breastfeeding the child.
  2. The child is of a young age and the mother has been the primary care giver from birth.
  3. The mother has been busy with her career, leaving not enough time for the child, and the father has been the primary care giver in the period leading up to the divorce.
  4. The paternal grandparents have been the primary caregivers.

This is why it is crucial for you to call Lam & Co. as early as possible. Where appropriate, you can, with our assistance, create a stable environment and routine which is more advantageous to you.

Four, the morality of the mother may or may not come into play. Adultery is primarily a breach of spousal duty, not necessary evidence of being a bad mother. However, evidence that the mother has an unceasing series of sexual partners who she brings home to entertain in front of the child can significantly reduce her chances of getting the child.

Fifth, the Court will take into account all the circumstances of the case including whether either parent has a gambling addiction, (alcohol) drinking addiction, depression or other medical or mental issues, limited (or no) engagement or interest in the child's life, sufficient (or insufficient) time to look after the child, etc.

Sixth, the Court can also take into account the child's independent opinion.
Call Lam & Co. now at 6535 1800 for an assessment of your situation.

About Lam & Co.
We seek to appreciate and understand your situation and put your aims and objective first. We will use our tried and tested Lamnco Method (developed over more than 25 years of successful legal experience) and strive for the best possible outcome for you.

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