Huang Min Min v Yu Chuan Hsian

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeKoh Juat Jong
Judgment Date13 January 2001
Neutral Citation[2001] SGDC 8
Citation[2001] SGDC 8
Published date19 September 2003




1 The parties, Huang and Yu, were married in Taipei, Taiwan on 26 January 1983. Yu came to Singapore in 1989 and took up permanent residence. Huang joined him in 1993. On 15 April 1997, Huang filed a petition for divorce in Singapore based on the unreasonable behaviour of the Yu. Yu took out an action to strike out the petition on the ground that the marriage was dissolved in Taiwan on 6 January 1987. A stay was instead granted on 27 September 1997 pending proceedings in Taiwan concerning the validity of the Taiwanese divorce. On 26 June 2000, the Singapore proceedings were restored upon the application of Huang. On 19 September 2000, the Singapore Court granted the decree nisi to dissolve the marriage. The ancillary matters subsequently came before me for hearing. Huang filed two affidavits (18 October 2000 and 21 October 2000) for the hearing. Oral evidence and further documentary evidence were given by both parties at the hearing. After hearing the parties, I made the following orders:

(a) the custody, care and control of the daughter shall be granted to Huang with access to the Yu every alternate week from Saturday 10am to Sunday 6pm starting from 11 November 2000;

(b) Yu shall inform Huang in advance if he is not exercising any particular access by fax and in any event, if he does not show up by 11 am on any Saturday scheduled for access, the access for that particular weekend shall be aborted;

(c) the child shall be transferred at the Marine Parade Neighbourhood Police Post for the access;

(d) Yu shall surrender his passport and the passport of the daughter to Huang during the access period; the passport of the daughter shall thereafter be kept by Huang and the passport of Yu shall be returned to him when he returns the child to Huang;

(e) the custody, care and control of the son shall be granted to Yu with reasonable access to Huang;

(f) Yu shall pay Huang through her POSB bank account the amount of $500 per month for the maintenance of Huang and $1,000 per month for the maintenance of the daughter with effect from 1 November 2000 and on the first of every month thereafter;

(g) Yu shall pay Huang the amount of $500,000 as her share in the matrimonial assets within nine months of the order; and

(h) Yu shall pay Huang costs for the proceedings fixed at the amount of $1,500 within one month of the order.

2 Huang has appealed against orders (f) and (g) above in respect of maintenance and division of matrimonial assets. Yu has also appealed against these orders and also orders (a) and (h) above in respect of the custody of the daughter and costs.

3 The parties acted in person during the hearing of the ancillary matters. Yu challenged the decree nisi and wanted some time to get documents from his Taiwanese lawyers to support his objection. However, as there was no application made to set aside the decree nisi and the matter was fixed for hearing of the ancillary matters, I took the position that it was not appropriate to raise any objection on the decree nisi at the hearing. I informed Yu that he had to take up the necessary application in respect of his objection. I explained to him that should he take up the application and should the decree nisi be subsequently set aside, any ancillary orders made would as a result be set aside. But the hearing before me should be confined to the issue of ancillary matters. There was no further request for time and the hearing proceeded.

4 It was also pertinent to note that when Yu appeared before me, he was under custody. He had been apprehended in Penang and brought back to Singapore to face the charges of kidnapping. There was at the same time contempt proceedings taken up by Huang against him for breaching the order of court dated 11 December 1998 in OS 5169/98 by failing to return the daughter to Huang after the stipulated access time. Yu disappeared with the son and the daughter after taking the daughter for weekend access on 1 April 2000. The contempt proceedings had not been able to proceed earlier as he could not be found. After he was brought back to Singapore in September 2000, he was ordered to show cause in respect of the breach of court order. He failed to show cause and was was committed to prison for 4 weeks on 27 September 2000. The criminal charges against him were subsequently dropped.

5 On the day of hearing, he was serving his last day of prison term. During the hearing, I advised him to seek legal assistance for the hearing. He confirmed that he had the two affidavits of Huang filed for the ancillary matters hearing. He wanted a copy of the affidavit filed by Huang on 5 June 2000 in respect of the divorce hearing. I extended a copy to him and granted him time to read the affidavit with the assistance of a Mandarin interpreter. He proceeded to give evidence and made submission. The hearing took a day.

Background of the marriage

6 Parties commencing living with each other in 1976. They got married only on 26 January 1983. Huang gave birth to their son on 5 December 1983. In 1987, there was a purported divorce agreement made between them and the divorce was registered with the relevant government authority in Taiwan. In 1989, Yu came to work in Singapore. The son followed him to Singapore. Parties were purportedly remarried on 19 March 1992 in Taiwan. The daughter was born on 6 May 1992. In 1993, Huang and the daughter came to Singapore to join Yu and the son. In July 1997, Huang left the matrimonial home with the daughter. The son continued to stay with Yu. In September 1997, Yu took the daughter away from Huang and refused to disclose to Huang the whereabouts of the daughter. Huang found the daughter in June 1998 and brought her back. In October 1998, she applied to court under OS5169/98 for the custody of the daughter. On 11 December 1998, status quo was ordered and Yu was granted access to the daughter every Saturday from 4 pm to Sunday 2 pm.

Custody of Children

7 The son was 16 years old and the daughter, 8 years old, at the time of hearing. Huang wanted joint custody of the son with care and control to Yu but sole custody, care and control of the daughter. Yu wanted sole custody of both children.

8 Yu said that in the divorce agreement in 1987, they had agreed that the son would stay with each of them for half a year. Huang breached the agreement and took the son for 1 years. She ill-treated him. The son became very sick and was very thin. Yu was then assigned by his company to Singapore. Yu brought his son to Singapore. He sent the son to hospital and nursed him back to health.

9 Huang denied that she had ill-treated the son or that the son was sickly. She said that she did not request Yu to bring the son to Singapore. Instead, Yu lied to her that he wanted to bring the son to Singapore for a summer vacation and she let the son go with him. However, she admitted that the relationship between her and her son was not good. She blamed it on Yu and said that Yu had been influencing the son negatively.

10 There was an incident in 1997 when she had a tussle with the son and the Police was called. Yu was not in Singapore on that occasion. Huang said that the son refused to let the daughter go out. Huang told the son that it was for her, as the mother, to decide and not for him to decide. The son defied her and wanted to punish the daughter by asking her to kneel down. The daughter refused and cried. Huang carried the daughter and the son insisted she put the daughter down. He pushed her and she knocked her head against the refrigerator. She then called the Police. The Police came and while they were investigating, the son had an asthma attack and the matter was dropped thereafter.

11 Yu also said that during his father’s funeral in December 1998, Huang came to the wake and stared at the son. The son thereafter coughed and had to be sent to hospital. Huang denied that she stared at the son. She said that the son was not feeling well that day.

12 Huang also mentioned that when the police officers were in Penang to apprehend Yu and to bring back the daughter, the son hid the daughter upon the instruction of Yu. Huang was concerned that the son was no longer law-abiding and she would like joint custody to bring him back to the correct track.

13 According to Yu, there was nothing wrong with the son. He had good results in school. He passed his grade 5 piano examination and was doing well.

14 Whatever the cause of the difficult relationship between Huang and the son, it was obvious to me that she could not handle him. He was already 16 years of age. Given the extremely acrimonious relationship between Yu and Huang, it was not practical to award joint custody. The parties would not be able to co-operate in the interest of the son. I therefore did not upset the status quo and allowed Yu to have the sole custody, care and control of the son with reasonable access to Huang.

15 In respect of the daughter, she was living with Huang most of the time. In 1993, she brought her from Taiwan to Singapore to live with Huang and the son. She was granted the custody of the daughter in the custody proceedings under OS 5169/98. The child was attending Mountbatten School in Singapore before she was taken by Yu to Penang. In Penang, the daughter was taken care of by a nanny when Yu went to work. She attended two schools: an international school in the morning and the Taiwan Overseas Chinese School in the afternoon. Yu said that in the short period of half a year in Penang, the daughter has picked up English with English accent.

16 Huang said that she was a more understanding parent and would take into account the views and interests of the child while Yu was authoritative and restrictive. She said that Yu refused to let the daughter go to any friend’s house or engage in activities of her interest, such as Taekwondo. She also said that attending two schools were too taxing for the child. Yu on...

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