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Essential Formal Validity Conditions for Marriage in Singapore

Question 1

(a) What are the 2 essential formal validity conditions that must be present before a marriage can be valid?

(b) What is the status of a marriage that does not have either one or both conditions?

(c) Name any 4 of the 5 conditions of capacity that must be present before a person may contract a marriage.

Question 2

Sue and Peter married in the year 2008 and they have a 7 year-old daughter now. Sue holds aMasters Degree in Business Administration, while Peter is an Engineer by training. However, Sue has been a housewife since their marriage. Peter is the sole breadwinner of the family. Sometime in 2012, Sue found out that Peter was secretly indulging in heavy gambling and had chalked up a huge debt. They had a heated argument. After the quarrel, Peter stormed out of their house. Sue was upset, but she thought that Peter would return home after he had cooled down.

A few months passed, and Peter did not return home. Sue was beginning to feel insecure. She apologised to Peter again and again, but Peter firmly said that he did not want the marriage anymore, and that he could not live with her anymore. Sue was sad, but decided not to pester Peter anymore.

Sue patiently waited for Peter to return home, thinking that he just needed some “space”. Months ran into years, and 4½ years had rolled by. One fine day, Sue received Peter’s Writ for Divorce.

Peter has also stated that he wishes to have custody, care and control of their daughter, as Sue is unemployed and, therefore, unable to provide for the child’s needs. He also refuses to pay any maintenance for Sue, since she is a Masters degree holder.

Sue is very upset and has come to you for your opinion. She has not given up on the marriage. She wants to reconcile with Peter. She has the following questions for you:

(a) Can she refuse to consent to Peter’s application for divorce? She tells you firmly that she has not forsaken Peter at any time, and that it is he who has walked away against her wishes.

(b) Will Sue have to give up custody of their daughter to Peter? She wants to have custody of the child, but she does not mind Peter visiting the child as often as he wants.

(c) Can Peter refuse to pay her any maintenance at all? He cites the fact that she is more highly qualified than he is.

(d) Assume that Sue had lent $100,000 to Peter for his business. Peter lost all of it when his business became a total failure. If Peter now faced bankruptcy, can Sue claim her loan as one of his creditors?

Question 3

Robert and Rebecca are excited about their wedding dinner. They have set the date on 8August 2017. They will hold their customary wedding ceremony then, before they begin living together as man and wife. By then, their new matrimonial home would be ready for them to move into.

On the topic of where the customary wedding would be held, Robert and Rebecca had differing opinions. Robert said that they should hold it in a no-frills hotel, so that they would not need to fork out too much money for the event. However, Rebecca wanted nothing less than a 5-star hotel reception and that would cost a lot of money. Robert became very upset, and thought that his future wife may not be all that suitable for him! He discussed it with his mother, who was also a prudent person.

Yesterday, Robert asked Rebecca to meet him after work. He told her that he feared that they might face differences in opinions throughout their lives, since their differing ideologies and practices were now becoming apparent. He suggested that they call off the wedding, and undo the registration, so that they may find more suitable partners to live with.

Rebecca is angry and devastated. She has been thinking about her current situation and is weighing her options. Assuming that Robert and Rebecca have not started living together as husband and wife yet, and assuming that Rebecca has asked Robert to go through with the marriage and to consummate the marriage, please answer her queries below:

(a) What is the status of her marriage?

  1. It is a valid marriage.
  2. It is a fake marriage.
  3. It is a void marriage.
  4. It is a voidable marriage.

(b) Can Rebecca make any application to the Court for any relief with respect to her marriage?

  1. Yes, she can apply immediately.
  2. No, she must allow 3 years to lapse from the date of marriage.
  3. No, she must undergo at least 3 years of separation first.
  4. She is barred from applying to Court for any relief.
Essential Formal Validity Conditions for Marriage in Singapore

In Singapore marriages are divided into two classes first is Civil Marriage and the second one is Muslim Marriage. All Civil marriages in Singapore are regulated by the Registry of Marriage (ROM) in pursuance of Women’s Charter1961 and all Muslim Marriages in Singapore are regulated by Registry of Muslim Marriage (ROMM) in pursuance of Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA). All important conditions which have to be fulfilled before the marriage are given under the s. 22 of the Women’s Charter 1961. According to this section the first essential element of marriage is related to witnesses. It is important that every marriage which is solemnizing in Singapore must be witnesses by 2 persons. Two persons must be presented at the time of marriage. And the second essential condition is also a very important factor for the valid marriage which is related to free consent. For every marriage solemnized in Singapore free consent is required in order to make a marriage valid. Marriage will not be considered a valid marriage in Singapore until the authority who is solemnizing the marriage has the opinion that parties have given the consent for their marriage.

  • There are some marriage rules in Women’s Charter 1961 of Singapore which have to be fulfilled by parties in order to make a marriage valid. As we previously discussed two essential conditions for a valid marriage the first condition was related to two witnesses of the marriage. At least two witnesses have to be presented at the time of marriage. And the second one is related to free consent which also a very important factor. Both conditions are essential for the valid Marriage. In absence of either of the valid condition of marriage, the marriage in Singapore will become automatically void.
  • The provisions related to marriage which are given under Women’s Charter 1961of Singapore contains some conditions which are related to capacity which need to be fulfilled by the parties  before contract a marriage   these essential conditions of capacity are as follow:

(i) The first important condition is related to the age of majority in order to make a marriage valid. Both parties of the Marriage must be 21 years old or above.

(ii) Both parties of the marriage should not be below the age of 18 years.

(iii) In the case of a minor, the previous consent in writing of a suitable person which is referred to second schedule and permission of a high court must be given if either of the party of the Marriage is minor.

(iv) Both parties of the marriage should not be already married under any provision of law, custom or religion to any person other than a party to the upcoming marriage.

  • Marriage is a bond of husband and wife. According to s. 46 ofWomen’s Charter 1961, it is the duty of husband and wife to collaborate with each other and protect their marriage. As per s. 46(4) of Women’s Charter 1961, husband and wife will have same conjugal rights (Family Justice Courts, 2017; Kum, 2010).

 Further s. 98 of Women’s Charter 1961 provides the relief to the defendant in the case of divorce that if the defendant proves any point which is stated under s. 95(3) of Women’s Charter 1961 then the defendant will be considered as plaintiff and the plaintiff will be considered as a defendant and such defendant (considering plaintiff ) will be entitled to the relief which is given under s. 98 of Women's Charter 1961 and in this case desertion has done by Peter which comes under s. 95(3) of the above said Act Hence Rita will get the relief under this provision.

  • Custody of children in the case of divorce is a very controversial topic. The rules related to children custody are defined under Guardianship of Infants Act 1934. All The rules related to children’s custody prevail on every person of Singapore no matter such person is Muslim or non-Muslim. In Singapore, it is very common in divorce cases when child custody is given to the mother of the child. It is the very difficult thing for a father of the child in Singapore to take the full custody of the child.  In this case, where Peter father of child mentioned that mother of the child Sue is unemployed so she cannot provide the proper care to child hence, he wants the custody of the child but there is a provision under s. 68 ofWomen’s Charter 1961. As per this section it will be the duty of the parent to maintain the children even if the child is in other person’s custody and also there are so many factors which are considered by the court at the time of the decision of children’s custody. The main factor which affects the decision related to children’s custody is the prime caregiver of the child during his/her initial year who is a mother in most of the cases.

Further, there is a provision under s. 4 of Guardianship Infant Act 1934 which is in favor of mother of a child that mother will have powers to report to the court about any habit or matter related to father which will affect the child and future of a child  in a detrimental way. And in this case, Peter father of the child has a bad habit related to gambling which is definitely not good for the child’s future hence mother of the child can have the custody even if she (mother of the child) is unemployed.

  • According to s. 114 of Women’s Charter 1961 if the court is of the opinion that the wife is qualified enough  to earn or has the capacity to Earn so as to maintain that standard of living which was enjoyed by her during the period of marriage the court while granting the maintains will pay regard to the above circumstances. And in this case, it will be the discretion of the court whether Sue is entitled to the maintenance from her husband or not. Peter cannot refuse to give the maintenance to his wife.
  • According to s. 53 of Women’s Charter 1961 if wife credits money or property owned by her to her husband for the business or trade and if the husband becomes bankrupt due to the failure of his business. In that circumstance, Wife will automatically become a creditor of his husband and she can claim the whole amount from his husband as a creditor. But she can claim her amount after all creditors of her husband. And in this case, if property or money owned by Sue is given to peter (husband of Sue) then Sue has right to claim her money. She will be considered as a creditor of her husband.









  • Maintenance is defined under s. 80 ofwomen’s charter 1961. As per this Section

maintenance means an order which is given by the court under part VIII to either of the party to give monthly payments to incapacitated party in the form of alimony or is the duty of the husband to give maintenance to his wife throughout life but for that court will consider some important aspects at the time of decision related to maintenance  which are given under s. 114 of Women’s Charter 1961 include wife’s financial Nasserites, salary, earning capability and all financial circumstances which are important, apart from that, the court will consider contribution by the  husband and wife for the family’s welfare, previous living standard of the wife and last important element  behavior of the husband and wife. It will be the desecration of the court whether the wife is entitled to maintenance or not or if yes how much amount she will get from the husband. Maintenance order if approved will terminate only in the case of death or remarriage.

According to s. 13 ofWills Act 1838 every Will prepared in Singapore will get revoked automatically after the marriage of the person who prepared the Will. Every person after marriage needs to update the will in order to remain validity of a will otherwise the Will becomes automatically invalid after the marriage of such person. The other important factor is that this law will only prevail on that person who has solemnized their marriage in Singapore and In this case, Will prepared by Rita will be considered invalid because after marriage Rita did not update the will. Rita and Francois solemnized their marriage on 14 February in Singapore hence rules which are given under s. 13 of Wills Act 1838 will be applied to Rita and Francois’s marriage.

  • Properties held by Rita will be distributed amongst the family member according to Intestate Succession Act 1967of Singapore as there was no valid Will at time of Rita’s death and previous Will was revoked as Rita did not update the Will after the marriage. At the time of the death, she owned several properties which include CPF monies, her apartment in Singapore, her bank accounts in France and Singapore, fixed deposits and insurance policies. At the time of the death, Rita chose her parents as the beneficiary for CPF monies. According to the s. 15(1c) Central Provident Fund Act 1953 beneficiaries chosen by Rita will get the equal share in CPF monies. Rita also brought condominium apartment in Singapore. She made Francois as her joint tenant to the apartment. As per the rule of joint tenancy, both parties  have hundred percent undivided right over the property joint tenants own at the death of the one party, the rule of survivorship comes to play another party will be entitled to such property. Hence Rita’s husband Francois will get the whole apartment. The Same rule will be applied on the joint account of Rita and her husband. All the money of her joint account will be given to her husband at the time of Rita’s death.

Further according to s. 7 of Intestate Succession Act 1967 of Singapore.

 All money from all of her bank accounts and fixed deposits in Singapore  and amount of her insurance policies possess by Rita will be distributed in equal proportion between her husband and parents, Rita’s parents will divide equally the fifty percent of the share (Family Justice Courts, 2017).

  • If at the time of Rita’s death she had an issue her properties would have been distributed differently from the previous situation.  As per the nomination made by Rita, the CPF monies would have been distributed only to Rita’s parents and the child would not have got any share in the CPF monies. Condominium apartment owned by Rita and her husband, Francois, after her death, would have devolved to her husband according to the rule of survivorship in joint tenancy. According to the rule of survivorship, the interest of a joint tenant dissolves at the time of his or her death and the other person who is the co-owner to the joint tenant property gets the whole of the property. Even heirs of the deceased joint tenant will not be entitled to a share in the property. The Same rule of survivorship in joint tenancy will be applied to all joint account of Rita and her husband and will be given to Rita’s husband. Her child will not get any share in Rita and her husband’s joint bank account. At last according to s. 7 of theIntestate Succession Act 1967 Rita had an issue then the money from all of her bank accounts and fixed deposits in Singapore and the amount of her life insurance policy would have been distributed to her child and her husband only.  In that case, parents of Rita will not get any share in her property due to the invalidity of the will as she did not update her will after her marriage.

























Family Justice Courts. (2017). Report of the Family Law Review Working Group: Recommendations for Guardianship Reform in Singapore. Retrieved from

Central Provident Fund Act, 1953 section 15(1c)

Central Provident Fund Board. (2017). CPF withdrawals on other grounds. Retrieved from

Family Justice Courts. (2015). Children’s rules. Retrieved from

Family Justice Courts. (2017). Maintenance. Retrieved from

Guardianship of Infants Act 1934 s. 4

High Commission of the Republic of Singapore. (n.d.). Marriage matters. Retrieved from

Intestate Succession Act 1967 s. 7

Kum, M. (2010). The law in Singapore on rights and responsibilities in marital agreements. Sydney Law Review, 32, 258.

Ministry of Law. (2016). Dealing with the deceased’s estate ( assets). Retrieved from

Registry of Marriages. (n.d.). Marriage rules. Retrieved from

Women’s Charter 1961 ss. 22, 46, 46(4), 53, 68, 80, 95, 98, 114,

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