Jaya Latchmee d/o Krishnasamy Maniam v Vijaya Kumaran Krishnan
|Koh Juat Jong
|07 February 2001
| SGDC 38
|19 September 2003
|District Court (Singapore)
GROUNDS OF DECISION
1 The parties were married on 2 April 1983. They had two daughters, aged 14 and 12 at the time of hearing. The petition based on the unreasonable behaviour of the husband was uncontested and the decree nisi was granted on 4 January 2000. The ancillary matters came before me for hearing on 27 November 2000 and the following orders were made:
(a) custody, care and control of the 2 children shall be granted to the wife with access to the husband from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday at the Tampines West Neighbourhood Police Post (NPP) or any other NPP to be mutually agreed and
(i) the access shall be exercised at the NPP and the wife or a relative of the wife may remain outside the Police Post during the access period
(ii) from 1 March 2001, the access may be unsupervised but the children shall be transferred at the NPP;
(b) the children shall not be brought out of Singapore by either party without leave of Court or the written consent of the other party;
(c) the husband shall not visit the children at school or at anywhere else outside the access hours;
(d) the wife shall not conduct any business from the residence of the children;
(e) by consent, the husband shall pay the wife the amount of $800 per month for the maintenance of the 2 children on the first of every month into the wife's bank account;
(f) the husband shall transfer his interest, title and share in the matrimonial flat to the wife upon the wife reimbursing the husband's CPF account of all monies utilised for the flat with accrued interest;
(g) the husband shall pay the wife the nominal maintenance of $1 per month;
(h) no orders on any other assets;
(i) the husband shall pay the wife the costs for the hearing of the ancillary matters fixed at $1,500;
(j) liberty to apply.
The husband has appealed against the orders in respect of custody, access, maintenance for the children and division of property.
Custody and Access of Children
2 The two children were girls. The wife had been their main caregiver throughout the years. She was a parent volunteer in the children’s school and a concerned parent who constantly monitored and supervised the daughters’ schoolwork. On 15 July 1998, there was a personal protection order issued by consent of parties against the husband in favour of the wife. The husband was also ordered to attend mandatory counselling. On 21 May 1999, there was another consent order under which the husband was excluded from the master bedroom and the bedroom of the daughters for the period of one year. The husband was a Malaysian with no relative in Singapore.
3 On 11 September 2000, the following interim orders were made by court:
(a) the wife shall have the interim custody, care and control of the children;
(b) the children shall remain in Singapore and shall attend schools in Singapore;
(c) the children shall not be brought out of Singapore without leave of court;
(d) the husband shall have supervised access to the children on Sundays from 10 am to 12 noon at the police post.
The orders arose from applications by both parties for interim custody of the children. The husband had discovered that the children were absent from school after the commencement of the second term of school in end June 2000 and it transpired that the wife had brought the children to India and enrolled them in a boarding school in India. The wife said that she brought the children to India for a holiday but the children fell in love with the international school there and wanted to stay there. The children were brought back to Singapore upon the direction of the court. The elder child filed an affidavit indicating that she would like to remain in the international boarding school in India. She complained about the father’s violence and the embarrassment he caused her by telling her friends and teacher all sort of stories about her family. She did not want to stay with her father and she indicated her strong preference to go back to her school in India.
4 The husband conceded in his affidavit that there was a distance between the children and him. He said that he could not spend much time with them as he had two jobs and that when he was at home, there were often quarrels between his wife and him. He acknowledged the feelings of the elder daughter towards him as stated in her affidavit. However, he attributed that to the fact that she was traumatised by the quarrels and the acrimonious divorce proceedings between his wife and him and that the wife had been discouraging the children from bring close to him. He said that he found out that the wife was a social escort and as a result, there were many quarrels between parties. He said that she conducted her business from home and frequently went out at night, leaving the children at home. He did not contest the application for the personal protection order as he was hoping that they could reconcile. He did not contest the application for the domestic exclusion order as by then, he was numb and resigned. He said that his mother would be able to assist him to look after the children. He also said that the wife had the intention of leaving Singapore to go to Australia.
5 The wife denied that she was a social escort. She said however that she set up an escort agency in 1998 but she never conducted any business from home. She also denied that she had alienated the children from him.
6 In the report of 1 September 2000 by Dr Brian Yeo, a psychiatrist, he stated the following after interviewing both parties and the children :
"Recognising that the children would like to be with their mother, an ideal solution would be to re-establish schooling, if the children are agreeable, in Singapore but with measures to ensure that (the husband) does not repeat his visits to the school. A gradual approach can then be initiated for (the husband) to allow supervised access initially to the children. Measures should be in place to monitor his interactions with the children and to ensure that (the wife) does not conduct her social escort business from home."
7 During the hearing, the wife’s counsel indicated that the study of the children abroad was no longer an issue as the wife had agreed with the interim order that the children should not be brought out of Singapore without leave of the court or the consent of the husband. The husband’s counsel also indicated that he was not objecting to the wife having custody, care and control of the children.
8 Under the circumstances, I adopted the agreed position of both parties that the wife should have the custody, care and control of the children.
9 As to access, because of the feelings of the children against him, I felt that supervised access should continue for a while. However, the children were not too young and there should be a schedule for access to be unsupervised after a period. According to the report of Dr Brian Yeo dated 20 November 2000, the husband had been attending the counselling sessions with him regularly to cope with the departure of the children and to improve his parenting skills. Dr Yeo also opined that if the children were willing, the husband should be allowed unsupervised access to re-establish the parental bonding. I allowed unsupervised access only from 1 March 2001 to give the children time to prepare themselves to be with their father alone and outside the precinct of the police post. The period was also to allow the conduct of both parties to be monitored. If there are incidents during the period before 1 March 2001 during the supervised access which call for a review of the access order, it should no doubt be done. When there are evidence that the parental bonding between the husband and the children has been well-established, the husband may apply for a longer access period.
10 I also shared the view of Dr Yeo that in the interest of the children, there ought to be some measures restricting the visit of the husband to the school of the children and the conduct of the escort business by the wife from home. I thus made the relevant restricting orders accordingly.
Division of Matrimonial Assets
11 In 1988, an HDB flat at Toh Yi Drive was bought in the sole name of the wife. According to both parties in the affidavit, the husband was not eligible then to own the flat. The wife was a clerk working with the HDB then.
12 The Toh Yi flat was bought at the price of about $75,000. It was financed 100% by the wife’s staff loan from the HDB. The monthly instalments were paid from the wife’s CPF. A renovation loan was also taken by the wife to pay for the renovation. The flat was sold in 1993 at the price of $190,000 and the net cash proceeds amounted to $88,000.
13 The wife said that she paid for the entire flat, including the renovation and that the husband made no contribution towards the acquisition of the flat. The husband said that he also contributed $5,000 towards the renovation of the flat by borrowing from a friend. But no further details were given. The husband also disputed that he made no other contribution to the flat. He said that he contributed his entire salary of about $1,000 a month towards the expenses of the family. He would give his entire salary to the wife who would in turn give him...
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