Working out HDB ownership after divorce is not always easy, but these general rules can help you determine what comes next.
What happens to your HDB flat after a divorce? It’s a difficult question to answer, as the circumstances of the divorce are a significant factor. While exceptions to the rule do exist (if appeals are made to HDB), there are some general rules that apply.
Determine if the HDB Flat is a Matrimonial Asset
Matrimonial assets are defined under the Women’s Charter as “an asset of any nature acquired during the marriage by one or both parties”. This means that, if you acquired the flat with your spouse after getting married, it has to be divided between you and your spouse.
However, if you (or you and your spouse) acquired the flat before your marriage, then it is only a matrimonial asset if:
- You both lived in it and used it, and raised one or more children in it, and
- Either you or your spouse has substantially improved on the flat, such as with renovations.
For flats that are inherited or given, these are only considered matrimonial assets if the above conditions are met (regardless of whether you received the flat before or during your marriage).
If the flat is determined to not be a matrimonial asset, you can retain the flat and are not required to divide it with your spouse.
Selling the HDB Flat After Divorce
Should the flat be sold off, with the proceeds split between you and your spouse, then it can be done in two ways.
If the divorce happens less than five years after collecting your keys, then your flat has not passed the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP). In this case, the flat must be returned to HDB, which will compensate you based on the assessed market value of the flat.
If the flat is past the MOP, you can sell it on the open market and divide the proceeds.
Either way, the flat must always be disposed of if you meet the following conditions:
- The marriage was not consummated
- The marriage has been legally annulled
- The split is between fiancé and fiancée
There is usually no option for either party to retain the flat under these circumstances. The only exception is if the parents of either party are listed in the original application to buy the flat.
Retaining the HDB Flat After Divorce
There are a number of circumstances under which you can retain HDB ownership after divorce. Note that this means taking over your spouse’s share of the flat, along with the relevant mortgage payments if they are due. You must financially qualify to take on such a home loan.
First, if either party’s parents are named on the original application to buy the flat, that party can retain the flat, along with the relevant responsibilities.
Second, if your child is living with you, you will have the option to retain the flat. However, note that the conditions listed under Disposing of the Flat still apply. For example, you must not be in a fiancé/fiancée situation.
Third, you may take over the flat under the Single Citizen Scheme. Besides the financial fitness to take on the outstanding mortgage, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be a Singapore Citizen
- You must be at least 35 years old
- The flat must be a resale flat, purchased without the CPF Housing Grant for Family
If the flat was a BTO flat, or purchased with the CPF Housing Grant for Family, you can only retain the flat if it is past the five year MOP.
Living Arrangements After the Divorce
In the aftermath of a divorce, you may have some difficulties finding a new home. This could mean having to rent for a while, so be sure to set aside the necessary savings if a divorce is impending.
You should also take into consideration storage costs. If you have to dispose of the flat, you will need a place to keep your remaining items. However, always consult your lawyer before selling off your belongings, as this may affect divorce proceedings.