Chia Geok Siang v Tan Guat Eng

JudgeSee Kee Oon
Judgment Date14 January 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGDC 3
Published date19 September 2003
Citation[2000] SGDC 3
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)




1. The appellant husband is the respondent in the divorce proceedings. The wife petitioned for divorce on 30 June 1998 on the ground of the husband’s unreasonable behaviour. The husband filed an answer and cross-petition but subsequently withdrew them. A decree nisi was granted on 4 March 1999 in respect of the wife’s petition, which was not contested

2. The husband and wife are now 34 and 36 years old respectively. They registered their marriage on 8 January 1988. There are two male children to the marriage, B, born on 28 October 1990, and G, born on 27 November 1998. The wife left the matrimonial home with the elder son in 1998 to stay with her mother. She subsequently gave birth to the younger son.

The ancillary matters

3. The hearing in respect of the ancillary matters was concerned with the issues of custody, maintenance for the two children, and division of the matrimonial assets, in particular the matrimonial flat at [address] (‘the Gangsa Road flat’). The wife was also seeking an order for the husband to bear the costs of the divorce and ancillaries.

i Custody, care and control

4. The wife sought to have custody, care and control of both children. The children were both living with her since she left the Gangsa Road flat. They were both still young. She maintained that the husband had never looked after the children and had also admitted to beating the elder child. Moreover, the husband’s initial proposal was merely to have custody of one child, who would be cared for by his mother in any event.

5. Although counsel for the husband intimated that he had instructions to ask for custody of both children, there were hardly any grounds set out by the husband to demonstrate how the children’s best interests would be served if they were to be placed under his custody. In the first place, he had originally only asked to have custody of only one child. He did not say why it would be necessary to split up the two children.

6. In any event, counsel for the husband intimated that he would leave it to the court to decide on the issue of custody. In my opinion, the husband’s somewhat half-hearted attempt to obtain custody reflected the degree of care and concern he had for his children. It was unlikely that it would be in their best interests to place them under his custody. I accordingly ordered that the wife was to have custody, care and control of both children, with reasonable access to be given to the husband.

ii. Maintenance

7. The wife was not seeking maintenance for herself. She was working as a sales supervisor, earning about $1,500 net a month. The husband claimed to be working as a lorry driver. He produced a letter from his employer, Seng Thong Disposal Sevice (see husband’s affidavit of 8 October 1999) stating that his basic salary was only $1,000 per month. In that letter, it was also stated that his employment commenced from 1 September 1999. Curiously, in an earlier affidavit filed on 7 May 1999, he had said then that he was employed by ‘M/s Singa Thong Disposal Specialist’ earning $1,200 per month (see paragraph 16). He proposed to pay maintenance for the elder and younger child at $300 and $50 per month respectively.

8. The wife had furnished a detailed list of her own expenses, as well as the children’s expenses, in her affidavit of 7 September 1999. She estimated that her own expenses would come to $903, while those of her children would amount to nearly $2,000. In my view, the total amount of close to $3,000 was clearly inflated. Moreover, the wife was in a position to defray these expenses as she had a regular income. I considered that the children would be adequately provided for with a contribution of $600 by way of maintenance (ie. $300 per child) from the husband.

9. I felt that the amount of maintenance ordered was within the husband’s means. He was previously earning around $1,800 per month as a bus-driver with Trans-Island Bus Services Ltd (TIBS). This was stated in his income tax statement for the year ending December 1998, exhibited in his affidavit of 8 October 1999. For some undisclosed reason, he chose to switch to a lower-paying job in 1999 with Seng Thong Disposal Service. He has also not exhibited any statement of bonus payments, overtime benefits etc, despite a direction from the court on 23 September 1999 requiring him to do so. I felt it was thus appropriate to draw an adverse inference against him.

iii. Matrimonial assets

10. The Gangsa Road flat was purchased in July 1996 for $132,582.46. The same year, the parties sold their former matrimonial flat at Block 150 Petir Road #06-102 Singapore (‘the Petir Road flat’) for $188,000. They had purchased the Petir Road flat in 1988 for $46,000. That flat was paid for using $47,023.61 and $11,993.96 (both sums including accrued interest) from the wife’s and husband’s CPF accounts respectively, in addition to an initial cash outlay of $200. Their respective financial contributions therefore stood in the broad proportion of 80:20.

11. The Gangsa Road flat was then purchased with the reimbursement of the CPF accounts upon the sale from the Petir Road flat. $23,940 and $2,642.46 respectively were drawn from the wife’s and husband’s CPF accounts. In addition, the parties applied for a mortgage loan from the HDB amounting to $106,000. The monthly instalments...

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