Easier asset division after a split

DIVORCED couples will soon find it easier to divide their matrimonial assets in a “smooth and equitable” manner, thanks to changes to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme.

From Oct 1, an ex-spouse no longer has to wait for her husband to turn 55 and be eligible to withdraw his CPF. These rules, passed under the CPF (Amendment) Bill in Parliament yesterday, now allow the immediate transfer of CPF monies to the ex-spouse’s CPF account, so long as the latter is a citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident.

There is also no need for the member to set aside the prevailing minimum sum and Medisave minimum sum first before distributing the rest to his ex-spouse.

Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen said the aim was to “facilitate the division of matrimonial assets under the Women’s Charter, provided there is no leakage from the CPF system”.

The House also approved changes to allow family members to support one another financially, including raising the top-up limit to the prevailing minimum sum. Previously, this was pegged to the individual recipient’s minimum sum level, which would have been much lower.

Another change involving divorced couples will allow for the immediate transfer of a property to the former spouse. Currently, when a member uses his CPF to buy property and a court orders the ownership to be transferred to the ex-spouse, the member must return, in cash, to the CPF account whatever amount is due to it. With the change, this is no longer necessary.

Instead, a charge will be placed on the amount of money used to buy the house, such that if the ex-spouse sells the house later, that money will be refunded to the member’s account.

And to help more Singaporeans have enough for old age, members will be allowed to transfer funds from their ordinary account to their grandparents’ retirement account, if both parties meet the top-up criteria. Previously, they could only do so using cash. Top-ups will also be allowed to spouses and siblings under-55 using CPF or cash from January.

Members of Parliament welcomed the changes, but asked for more public education measures. Agreeing that the changes were complex, Dr Ng said simple cartoons would be used to convey messages and more roadshows would be organised. He will also deliver a ministerial statement in Parliament on Sept 17.

Source : Today – 28 Aug 2007

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