ASF v ASG

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeWong Keen Onn
Judgment Date06 July 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] SGDC 221
Citation[2011] SGDC 221
Hearing Date23 February 2011,07 April 2011,04 May 2011
Published date13 July 2011
Docket NumberDivorce Suit No 1017 of 2009
Plaintiff CounselPratap Kishan (M/s Kishan & V Surai Partnership)
Defendant CounselB Uthayachandran (M/s Essex LLC)
District Judge Wong Keen Onn: Introduction

This is an appeal instituted by the Plaintiff wife (hereinafter referred to as the “wife” or “Plaintiff”) in respect of the ancillary orders made on 4 May 2011.

The parties were married on 5 June 1996. They have one daughter, aged 14 years, from the union1.On 4 March 2009, the wife filed for a divorce based on the husband’s unreasonable behaviour. On 25 August 2009, Interim Judgment dissolving the marriage was granted and the ancillary matters concerning custody, care and control of the child of the marriage, division of the matrimonial home and maintenance of the wife and child were adjourned to be heard in Chambers.

The ancillary matters came for hearing before me, and I made the following orders: Custody The Plaintiff ASF and Defendant ASG shall have joint custody of the dependant child of the marriage, namely N, with care and control to the Plaintiff wife and with the following access to the Defendant: Alternate Sundays from 9am to 6pm starting from the second Sunday from the date of this Order and the venue of the handover shall be at xxx. School holiday access: half of the school holidays with the Defendant. Public holiday access: alternate public holiday with the Defendant starting from the second public holiday from the date of this Order except that for Deepavali public holiday, Defendant shall have access for half-day. Matrimonial Flat The Defendant ASG shall transfer (other than by way of sale) all his rights title and interest in the matrimonial flat at Apt Blk xxx to the Plaintiff ASF with no Central Provident Fund refunds to the Defendant’s CPF account within six (6) months from the date of the grant of the final judgment. The Defendant shall vacate the premises upon the transfer of the flat to the Plaintiff. The Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Subordinate Courts under Section 45 of the Subordinate Courts Act (Cap 321) is empowered to execute, sign, or indorse all necessary documents relating to the matters contained in this Order on behalf of either party should either party fail to do so within fourteen (14) days of written request being made to the party. All obligations to effect a transfer of the property shall be on the Defendant and not on the Board. Other Matrimonial Assets Parties shall retain their other assets in their own names and shall have no further claim against each other. Maintenance The Defendant ASG shall contribute a sum of $700.00 per month to the Plaintiff ASF as monthly maintenance for the Plaintiff with effect from 15 May 2011 and thereafter on the 15th day of each subsequent month. The maintenance sum shall be reduced to $500.00 per month with effect from 15 November 2011 and thereafter on the 15th day of each subsequent month. The Defendant ASG shall contribute the sum of $500.00 per month to the Plaintiff ASF for monthly maintenance for the dependant child of the marriage, namely N with effect from 15 May 2011 and thereafter on the 15th day of each subsequent month. All payments to be made into the Plaintiff’s POSB savings account number xxx. There shall be at liberty to apply Costs As agreed between the parties, no order as to costs

The Defendant husband has appealed against my decision on the division of the matrimonial flat and maintenance for the wife. He wants to have a share in the matrimonial flat in addition to a refund of his CPF monies utilised for the flat and that there be no order as to maintenance for the wife. I now set out herein the grounds for my decision.

Issue of the division of the matrimonial flat

I will first deal with the matrimonial flat. The matrimonial flat at xxx is a 4 room HDB flat owned by the husband and wife as joint tenants. It was purchased on 1 June 1997 for a price of $298,000.002. Parties agreed that the outstanding HDB mortgage loan is $61,130.68 as at 24 May 20103 ought to be used for division of the asset. I agree as this cut-off date was also used for valuation of the flat and the CPF contributions. I accepted that the flat was worth $271,000.00 as parties did not dispute this figure. This was the last transacted price for a similar HDB flat in that area in March 20104.

The Plaintiff wife’s position

In her first affidavit of assets and means filed on 10 June 2010 (1st AOM), the wife claimed she had paid an initial down payment of $40,000.00 as she and the Defendant borrowed that sum of $40,000 from her brother Mr S. She had repaid the entire sum singlehandedly5. To support this, she exhibited a letter of agreement she had signed with her brother on 10 April 20076. Besides the down payment, she and the Defendant each used a sum of $248 per month from their respective CPF funds to pay for the monthly mortgage payment7. Her contribution towards the acquisition of the flat using CPF funds was $114,290.00 as at 4 June 20108. She also claimed she paid a sum of $3,600.00 towards the renovation of the flat. In summary, she claimed she had made a direct financial contribution of $157,890.00 towards the acquisition of the flat. As for her indirect contributions, she claimed she was a working mother since the birth of their only daughter from 1997 until 2006. Thereafter, she decided to be a homemaker to spend more time with the daughter who was growing up. She said that she had resigned to become a housewife with the Defendant’s knowledge due to reasons and circumstances which she had mentioned to the Defendant. She contributed to the household expenses by paying for household bills through deductions from her bank account. Although they hired a maid, she was the one who attended to all her daughter’s needs whereas the Defendant would not bother with this but had spent time going out for drinks with his friends and having “illicit relationships”9.

The wife asked the Court to transfer the Defendant’s rights, title and interest in the matrimonial home without any consideration and without any refund of any CPF monies used by the husband’s to purchase the flat. This would be in exchange for not claiming on his other CPF monies, any gratuity monies from his employers (xxx) or any of his assets. However, if the Court was not minded to do so, she asked for the flat to be sold on the open market and the net sales, after reimbursing both the CPF monies utilised for the purchase with accrued interest, repayment of the outstanding mortgage loan and costs and expenses of sale , be given to her absolutely. In addition, she would then want a share from the husband’s CPF monies and gratuity sums and other assets in order to start a new life with her daughter10.

The Defendant husband’s position

The husband’s position was as follows: He stated that the matrimonial flat is now worth $271,000.00 and the outstanding mortgage loan was $61,130.68. As for his direct contributions to the flat, he claimed he had contributed a capital payment of $78,300 from his CPF funds and additional sums of $5,150.22 from his CPF funds and cash of $115.15 towards the conveyance, stamp and other administration fees. According to him, the wife‘s initial down payments were $74,700.00 of CPF monies and $37,000 cash (which was part of the $40,000 loan from the wife’s brother). Each of them had contributed $248 per month from their respective CPF accounts. Initially he claimed he had taken out a $24,000 renovation loan from Citibank towards the renovation of the matrimonial flat11. When the wife disputed this (saying it was only $7,000.00) and had challenged him to produce documentary proof to the contrary, he then corrected himself and said that renovation loan was $11,000.00 and he paid another sum of $6,000 in cash12. He added he had purchased all the furniture and electrical fittings amounting to $12,000.00. He did not produce any documents in support of this in his 2nd and 3rd affidavits of assets and means13. The husband was given a further opportunity by the Court at the hearing to produce documentary evidence of such a loan but he could not do so14. He acknowledged that the wife did additional renovations to the house in October 2004 when he was away for nearly 2 months in xxx for military training. However, he claimed he reimbursed the Plaintiff the sum of $3,600 afterwards15. This was denied by the wife. He contended that his indirect contributions were in the form an equal sharing of the expenses and outgoings of the matrimonial flat and ensuring that all the necessary needs are taken care of. He had also paid the other household expenses such as food, utilities, and maid salary and levy16. The husband wanted the flat to be transferred to him with refund of the wife’s CPF monies utilised with interest and that he will bear the loss in the depreciation of the value of the flat.17 The husband claimed that the wife was financially better off than him as she had a higher CPF balance in her Ordinary, Medisave and Special accounts and therefore the division ought to be in his favour. He did not dispute that under his current employment with the xxx, he would earn a gratuity on his completion of his service with his employer in a few years’ time. No figure on this expected gratuity was given by the husband but it was said it was in the region of nearly $100,00018. The husband argued that this payment was entirely within the discretion of the xxx and would not have accrued, that the wife played no part in the acquisition of this gratuity and so it did not form part of the matrimonial assets. He also said that he would be using this to clear his debts with GE Money and DBS Bank. These were for outstanding sums of $59,519.11 and $57,844.94 as at February 2009 and December 2008 for loans taken for vehicles xxx and xxx. He admitted these monies were not used for the benefit of the family but were for his friend F to purchase the 2 cars in his name even though he (husband) could not drive19.

Decision on the issue of the Matrimonial Flat

In assessing the...

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