HDB and Divorce
One of the main areas that need to be addressed when a couple file of divorce is obviously matrimonial assets, especially the family home. In Singapore, especially if the couple co-owned a public flat under the Housing Development Board (HDB), there are very clear rules and regulations that affect the division of the property, be it disposition of the property or otherwise. These are governed by the Matrimonial Property Plan Rules (MPPR).
Under the MPPR, the divorcing couple must fill out the HDB standard query form and the CPF standard query form before they can even proceed to file for divorce. These forms are instrumental in assisting the courts when:
- judging how the flat is to be divided between the divorcing parties
- deciding if the matrimonial property plan is acceptable
- clarifying if there HDB policies that affect the property
HDB flat division settled prior to divorce
If the couple had agreed on the division of the HDB flat before filing for divorce, they then have to submit a matrimonial property plan to HDB and CPF for approval before filing a divorce petition.
HDB flat division not settled prior to divorce
In cases where division of flat had not been settled, then the petitioner will file a proposed matrimonial property plan which summarises basic information about the flat and positions of both parties. The curt will then refer to this document during the hearing.
Ex-spouse retaining flat
The divorcing couple also need to answer the question whether either party plan to keep the property? HDB has clear criteria on ownership status, whereby owners of the flat need to constitute a family unit, whether it is a husband and wife or a parent and child. Should the party wishing to retain ownership of the flat not be able to fulfil HDB’s eligibility criteria, the home is then put up for sale with proceeds from sale to be split between both parties according to their purchase and the proceeds to revert to both parties’ CPF accounts.
If, however, the spouse intending to keep the property fulfils HDB’s eligibility criteria, then he or she is able to buy out the other spouse’s share.
HDB is typically amenable to the party having care and control of the children from the marriage to retain ownership of the flat providing he or she fulfils the following criteria:
- Is a Singaporean citizen
- Is above 35 years of age
- Matrimonial home is a resale flat that was purchased from the open market and they cannot use the CPF Housing Grant for Family
- In cases where the matrimonial home was purchased directly from HDB or a resale flat that was purchased with the CPF Housing Grant for Family, a 5 year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) is required before the divorced party can take ownership of the flat under the Single Singapore Scheme (SSC)
- If the ex-spouse does not wish to wait out the 5 year MOP, he or she can then include another person, in most cases their parents, as co-owner and if all criteria are met, can then take over ownership of the flat immediately
If the ex-spouse fulfils the above criteria and has the financial means to pay for it, then both parties must agree on a valuation price for the flat. If they cannot come to an agreement, each party is able to conduct an independent valuation from the other and then have comparative analysis done. If the issue still cannot be resolved, then the matter is brought to trial.
The couple also must ensure that terms and conditions for partial or no CPF refund are met:
- Ex-spouse must be either a Singaporean citizen or Permanent Resident
- Any loans or grants taken by the couple and are refundable or repayable to the Government have been repaid fully before any transfer is approved
Once all the terms have been met, the property is then valued and sold to the ex-spouse and he or she will get the asset under equitable distribution.
These considerations, however, are not applicable where a marriage has been annulled or divorce was based upon non-consummation. In these cases, both parties are not eligible to hold on to the flat and the property must be returned to HDB at prevailing HDB prices.