June 24, 2007


Can we sell flat while waiting for divorce?

Q I HAVE been married for six years. My child will be three years old in a few months.

However, my marriage has been on the rocks since November 2004, after the birth of my child.

My child and I have been living at my mother's place since November, while waiting for the divorce papers which are being processed.

I have three questions. First, in the meantime, without any documents to prove that we are getting a divorce, how do I go about settling the HDB flat that my estranged husband and I have agreed to sell?

Second, the funds in both our CPF accounts are deducted monthly for this flat though I have already moved out. Can I stop the deduction from my CPF account since I no longer live there?

Third, as for the required three years' separation (which is part of the reason for the divorce), must we provide proof to show that we are separated? What is the purpose of a deed of separation? How do I apply for it?

A WHEN you say the divorce papers are being processed, do you mean that you or your husband have already filed for divorce?

If so, then once the interim judgment is granted, meaning that your divorce is granted, the court will deal with the question of what should be done with your HDB flat.

I assume this is a matrimonial flat in both your names. If both of you have already agreed on the sale, then the court's assistance can be sought on the issue of the proportion of division.

If you intend to sell the flat now, before the divorce is granted, HDB will issue the net sale proceeds in both your names. Ensure that you both agree on how much each is to get. For more information on your rights, consult a lawyer.

To answer your second query, you can choose to stop your monthly CPF deductions. However, there will be a cash top-up required for the instalments. Who will pay for this? Unpaid instalments will attract late interest charges. Since divorce proceedings have already started, let the current arrangement continue until the flat is sold.

As for your third query, a deed of separation is one way to show you have both been separated for three years.

You can get a lawyer to draft the deed and ask your husband to sign it. Even if you do not have a deed, you can still file for divorce based on three years' separation, provided the other party signs a consent agreeing that you have both lived separately for three years.

Tan Shin Yi
Harry Elias Partnership

Advice provided in this column is not meant as a substitute for comprehensive professional advice. E-mail questions to [email protected]