Ancillary Orders After Foreign Divorce Or Annulment

Always revitalising and evolving


About the project

The Singapore Academy of Law’s Law Reform Committee noted that under Singapore law, the court’s power to make ancillary orders in matrimonial legal proceedings relating to the division of matrimonial property, the custody of children and maintenance depended on the court having jurisdiction to pronounce on the status of the marriage. If an order made by a foreign court was recognised to have annulled or dissolved the marriage, it was not possible for the Singapore court to assume jurisdiction in respect of the marriage; there was no marriage to speak of anymore. The legal consequence was that the court lacked certain crucial powers to grant ancillary orders.

The Committee recommended that the Women’s Charter (Chapter 353, 1997 Revised Edition; now the 2009 Revised Edition) be amended so that the Singapore court would have the power to order financial relief after a foreign divorce or annulment of marriage or legal separation. The powers would be co-extensive with and exercised on the same discretionary grounds as if the court had original matrimonial jurisdiction. All circumstances would be taken into consideration, including the foreign dimensions of the case and the existence and effectiveness of orders (if any) made by the relevant foreign court. As there was a risk of abuse of the expanded powers, certain safeguards were also recommended. Thus, the applicant had to first seek permission to apply for this relief, and permission might be denied if the parties did not have sufficient connections with Singapore, or if the applicant had not demonstrated substantial grounds for relief, or Singapore was not the appropriate venue to provide such relief.

Project status: Completed

  • The report was published in July 2009.
  • Parliament implemented the Committee’s recommendations by enacting the Women’s Charter (Amendment) Act 2011 (No 2 of 2011) on 10 January 2011, and the relevant portion of the Act came into force on 1 June 2011. The Act introduced Chapter 4A (“Financial Relief Consequential on Foreign Matrimonial Proceedings”) into Part X of the Charter.
  • The report has been cited in a number of court judgments:
    • Cai Xiao Mei v Zhang ShaoJi [2014] SGDC 132, paragraph 11, footnote 24; and paragraph 16, District Court.
    • Tan Poh Beng v Choo Lee Mei [2014] SGHC 163, [2014] 4 Singapore Law Reports [SLR] 462 at paragraph 28, High Court.
    • Harjit Kaur d/o Kulwant Singh v Saroop Singh a/l Amar Singh [2015] SGHCF 5, [2015] 4 SLR 1216 at paragraph 2, High Court.
    • TMO v TMP [2017] SGCA 14, [2017] 1 SLR 585 at paragraph 16, Court of Appeal.
    • UFM v UFN [2017] SGHCF 22, [2018] 3 SLR 450 at paragraphs 34 and 35, High Court, the Court referring to the report when interpreting Chapter 4A of Part X of the Women’s Charter.
  • The report has also been referred to in the following works:
    • Debbie Ong & Valerie Thean, “Family Law” (2009) 10 Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review of Singapore Cases [SAL Ann Rev] 314 at page 315, paragraph 15.4.
    • Leong Wai Kum, “The Next Fifty Years of the Women’s Charter—Ripples of Change” [2011] Singapore Journal of Legal Studies [Sing J Legal Studies] 152 (archived here) at page 154, footnote 22.
    • Tan Yock Lin & Yeo Tiong Min, “The Conflict of Laws: Themes, Fundamentals and Obstacles” in Yeo Tiong Min, Hans Tjio & Tang Hang Wu (gen eds), SAL Conference 2011: Developments in Singapore Law between 2006 and 2010: Trends and Perspectives (Singapore: Academy Publishing, 2011), 575 at page 661, paragraph 170, footnote 446.
    • Teo Keang Sood, “Land Law” (2014) 15 SAL Ann Rev 425 at page 444, paragraph 20.77.
    • Debbie Ong, “Financial Relief after Termination of Marriage” in International Issues in Family Law in Singapore (Singapore: Academy Publishing, 2015) at paragraph 6.3, footnote 8; paragraph 6.36, footnote 86; paragraph 6.61, footnotes 139 and 142; paragraph 6.67, footnote 158; and paragraph 6.69, footnote 161.

Areas of law

 Family law


Click on the image above to view the report

Last updated 4 June 2019


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