A Singaporean Woman’s Rights under the Women’s Charter

Last updated on October 19, 2017

What are the rights of a Singaporean woman under the Women’s Charter?
  1. The wife shall have the right to use her own surname and name separately.
  2. The husband and the wife shall have equal rights in the running of the family home.
  3. A married woman can own her own property. Her property is not necessarily her husband’s.
  4. A wife is not liable for her husband’s debt.
  5. Housekeeping allowance given by the husband to the wife shall be treated as belonging to both parties in equal shares, unless there are exceptional agreements proving otherwise.
  6. In the event that the wife loans money to her husband for his business, and the husband becomes bankrupt, the wife can reclaim the loan as a creditor, but remains last in priority after other creditors.
  7. Gifts given by the husband to the wife may be treated as attempts to defraud creditors, and may be claimed by creditors, if the husband becomes bankrupt.
  8. Under section 68 of the Women’s Charter, parents have a duty to maintain their children.
  9. Under section 69 of the Women’s Charter, any married woman whose husband fails to provide her reasonable maintenance may apply for her maintenance of either a monthly allowance or a lump sum to the Court.
  10. Divorce cannot be filed within 3 years of a marriage and can only be for the sole reason that marriage has irretrievably broken down. The Court would accept the following as grounds for divorce:
    1. One party has committed adultery;
    2. One party has behaved in a way that the other cannot be reasonably expected to continue living with him or her;
    3. One party has deserted the other for at least 2 years;
    4. The parties have separated for at least 3 years, and the defendant consents to divorce
    5. The parties have separated for at least 4 years, and whether the defendant has consented to the divorce is irrelevant
  11. Judicial separation can also be filed, allowing both parties to stop cohabiting, for the above mentioned reasons.
  12. The court can order for the division of matrimonial assets upon divorce.
  13. The court can order a man to pay maintenance to his wife upon divorce, separation or annulment of marriage.
  14. Pimping (living on the earnings of a prostitute), as well as the trafficking of women and girls, are all offences under the Women’s Charter, in addition to other acts.