Is an immigration-advantage sham marriage considered valid, and is the ‘spouse’ considered a ‘surviving spouse’ under Intestate Succession Act?


Heart Attack

This involved a dispute about whether the marriage between the deceased, Gian Beng Hwee, and the ‘spouse,’ Meng Xianhui, is valid. The deceased is a Singapore Citizen, and the ‘spouse’ is a citizen of the Republic of China. The ‘spouse’ had 2 sons from the previous marriage. The marriage was solemnised on 20 January 2007. After marriage, the deceased continued to live in the Whampoa flat with his late mother, while the ‘spouse’ lives with her younger son in her sister’s apartment.

The deceased passed away from a heart attack suddenly on 23 December 2017, and the ‘spouse’ turned up at the funeral, claiming that she was the deceased’s wife. However, the deceased’s siblings are shocked as they are unaware of the marriage and did not attend the wedding.

The siblings claimed that the marriage was a marriage of convenience as the deceased was helping the ‘spouse’ obtain the PR status. In addition, they claimed that all the deceased assets should be distributed to his immediate family instead.

However, the ‘spouse’ contends that the marriage is not a sham marriage. She had introduced the deceased to her parents and sons. She then produced several photos of the wedding and argued that the deceased did not inform the family of their marriage because he was embarrassed that he had married a “China lady”. However, she cannot produce any phone records, message correspondence, or photos with the deceased.


Under Section 11A of the Women’s Charter, the definition of a marriage of convenience on or after 1 Oct 2016 is as follows.

(a) the purpose of the marriage is to assist one party to obtain an immigration advantage

(b) there is gratification given, offered, or received as an inducement or reward to the other

party; and

(c) the parties did not intend for the marriage to result in a genuine marital relationship.

In this case, the marriage was registered before 1 Oct 2016. However, it does not follow that the marriage is valid. As such, the deceased’s CPF money and all his other assets will be distributed among his immediate family members according to the prevailing laws, rules, and regulations to the exclusion of the Defendant.

Learning Point

It is crucial to plan for your estate to avoid unnecessary lawsuits or trouble upon your demise.

Making a nomination or a Will ensures that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.

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