S’pore Couple Divorces Before Possession Of BTO, Woman Gets Full Share In Court Settlement

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Couple Fights For BTO After Divorce, Woman Gets Full Share Of Flat

A divorced woman in Singapore recently won a solo claim to a Built-To-Order (BTO) flat after a successful appeal.

She commenced divorce proceedings against her husband in 2019, after they were allocated the flat in 2017. As of Jan 2023, they have apparently yet to receive the keys to their home.

The legal process of determining the outcome of the flat was a rocky one, with the court denying the woman’s first appeal.

Divorced couple initially had to return BTO to HDB

According to Channel News Asia (CNA), the couple separated in January 2019 before finalising their divorce in May 2021.

As they had not received the keys to their flat at the time of the divorce, the Family Justice Court ruled that the home should be returned to the Housing Development Board (HDB). They would then get refunds for whatever amounts they paid respectively for the home.

With this initial ruling, neither the woman nor her ex-husband could claim the flat as their own.

Source: Ministry of National Development on Facebook

However, the woman argued that the ruling, which removes the BTO flat from the matrimonial pool, would be a loss to the couple.

Moreover, their children won’t have a permanent roof over their heads.

Court deems woman ‘selfish’ for initial appeal

Unfortunately for the woman, the court rejected her argument on the grounds that she was more financially stable than her ex-husband.

The nurse educator earned a higher monthly average salary of S$4,936 and had about S$256,500 in her CPF savings, noted CNA. She also had roughly S$68,000 in other savings.

In comparison, her ex-husband only had $345 in his bank account and earned a gross monthly income of S$4,708.

His CPF savings were also significantly lower at S$105,400.

Should the woman get to claim the flat for herself, the court thought that she could benefit from its increase in value.

Her ex-husband, who was already less financially stable, would then lose out.

Woman offers to pay ex-husband his share of BTO deposit

Things took a turn in her second appeal, however, where new details came to light.

In exchange for relinquishing his interest in the flat, the woman apparently offered to pay her ex-husband bout $16,000 for his share in deposits and administrative fees.

This disproved the previous judge’s worry that she did not want to reimburse her husband.

A valuation also later found the flat’s value to be the same as its sale price at the time of the court case. This was after they accounted for its minimum occupation period (MOP).

Furthermore, it wasn’t yet an asset eligible for sale on the open market. Therefore, the woman would not have stood a chance at profiting from her full acquisition of the home.

Her ex-husband was additionally willing to surrender the unit to HDB. There was thus no prejudice against him.

Children’s welfare an important consideration

In her first appeal, the woman argued for the welfare of her two children, who need a permanent place to stay.

While this argument did not convince the first judge, it was enough to sway the second judge, Justice Woo Bih Li.

He reiterated that the children are under the care and control of the woman, even though the couple has joint custody, reported CNA.

As such, allowing the woman full claim to the flat is in the best interest of the children.

Following the settlement, the mother of two will be able to care for her children in the family home.

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Featured image adapted from Google Maps, for illustration purposes only.

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