Gifts and Inherited Assets in Divorce: A Look Back at CLC v CLB [2023] 1 SLR 1260

17 Jan 2024 CaseWatch

In many marriages, it is not uncommon for spouses to be given assets by way of inheritance or gift. Ordinarily, such assets would not be liable for division in divorce proceedings. Where the gifts or inheritance are anticipated to be substantial, it is increasingly common for prenuptial agreements to explicitly exclude gifted or inherited assets from being divided in the event of divorce.

This update takes a look back at the Singapore Court of Appeal’s decision in CLC v CLB [2023] 1 SLR 1260 which held that, where a party to a marriage receives a gift or inheritance but evinces a clear and unambiguous intention to deal with that asset (by, e.g., giving it to the other party or incorporating it into the family estate), the court can give effect to such intention and include the asset for division in the matrimonial asset pool even though it would ordinarily be excluded. Significantly, the Court of Appeal did not disturb the findings of the court below, to the effect that the terms of the parties’ prenuptial agreement excluding gifted or inherited assets from division would not be given weight as the donee spouse had shown a clear and unambiguous intention for these excluded assets to form part of the family’s wealth.

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