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A comprehensive guide to distribution of matrimonial assets

Updated: Jan 12, 2020


What is Matrimonial Asset/Property?

Matrimonial Asset is an asset owned by one or both of two persons who are married to one another which, upon the application of one of the spouses to a court for dissolution of marriage, is subject to division between them. A married couple can determine who will entitle to which property and how much he/she is entitled to (mutual agreement). But too often when a relationship go sour where both parties are not agreeable with the arrangement, the Court has the discretion / power to order for division of matrimonial and this is when the contested divorce proceeding will take place.


What Factors will be / to be taken into account by the Judge?

The factors which will be taken into account by the Judge will be as follows:

i. the extent of the contributions made by each party in money, property or work towards the acquiring of the assets;

ii. any debts owing by either party which were contracted for their joint benefit;

iii. the needs of the minor children, if any, of the marriage.


In exercising the discretion of Court, the Court will look at the following:

(i) the extent of the contributions made by the other party who did not acquire the assets to the welfare of the family by looking after the home or caring the family;

(ii) the needs of the minor children, if any, of the marriage as the Court thinks reasonable.

Matrimonial Assets includes all immovable properties and movable properties which are gained during the marriage. Property/asset acquired or bought before the marriage is also considered as Matrimonial Assets.


When it comes to Matrimonial Assets, the Court will determine whether it is “JOINT EFFORTS” OR “SOLE EFFORT”. For joint efforts, there must be evidence of monetary contributions by both parties towards the acquiring of the property, whereas when dealing with “solely acquired assets” regards is had to the non-financial acquirer’s contribution to family welfare.


Case Study:

In Shireen a/p Chelliah Thiruchelvam vs Kanagasingam a/l Kandiah [2012] 7 MLJ 315, the husband was the person making payments for the properties most of the time. The Wife’s main contribution was to the welfare of the family by looking after the home and caring of the family and children. Taking a broad-brush approach, the judge held that the wife was entitled to a 35% share and the husband, 65% share of the matrimonial assets.

NOTE: There is no formula used to divide your property. No one can tell you exactly what orders a Judge will make. The decision is made after all the evidence is heard and the Judge decides what is just and equitable based on the unique facts of your case.

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