A court may adjust or exempt the distribution amount of the remaining property of a couple only if it is obviously unfair to equally distribute the balance of such property when either of the couple fiddles around, is habitually wasteful, has made no contribution to the property or has not collaborated for its accumulation (Taiwan)

2018.9.28
Emily Chueh

The Supreme Court rendered the 107-Ta9-Shang-1649 Civil Decision of September 28, 2018 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that a court may adjust or exempt the distribution amount of the remaining property of a couple only if it is obviously unfair to equally distribute the balance of such property when either of the couple fiddles around, is habitually wasteful, has made no contribution to the property or has not collaborated for its accumulation.

In this case, the Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that the parties had not agreed on the their system of property after they got married.  Since they subsequently agreed to a divorce, the Plaintiff filed a complaint to seek payment from the distribution of the remaining property by the Defendant.  After the original decision was rendered, neither party was satisfied, and each appealed separately.

According to this Decision, Article 1030-1, Paragraph 2 of the Civil Code provides that if it is obviously unfair to equally distribute the remaining property pursuant to Paragraph 1 of the same article, the court may adjust or exempt the amount of such distribution.  Although the legislative objective is to have the couple equally receive the assets accumulated by them in the course of their marriage when they cannot agree to the distribution of property at the end of their marriage in order to fulfill the principle of equal rights and equality between men and women.  However, if there is no justified basis for participating in the distribution of the remaining property when either of the couple fiddles around or is habitually wasteful without contribution to, or collaboration efforts for, the accumulation or increase of property, such party certainly should not be allowed to sit idle and enjoy the fruit of the other party’s labor and receive benefits he/she does not deserve.  The court may adjust or exempt the distribution amount pursuant to Paragraph 2 of the same article only when it is obviously unfair to equally distribute the balance of the remaining property between the spouses under such circumstances in order to be fair.

It was further pointed out in this Decision that the original decision had elected to deduct the NT$1.5 million paid by the Plaintiff after the divorce of the parties without exploring in detail the connection between this sum and the distribution of the remaining property of the parties and had deducted a gambling debt of NT$0.8 million before confirming if the debt was paid by the Plaintiff before or after the divorce.  Since the original decision was rash and impetuous, it was reversed and remanded.