Kwok Wai Leng v Chan Sooi Hong

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeTan Lee Meng J
Judgment Date22 March 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] SGHC 58
Citation[2004] SGHC 58
Defendant CounselTan Yew Cheng (Leong Partnership)
Plaintiff CounselSeenivasan Lalita (Virginia Quek, Lalita and Partners)
Published date29 March 2004
Docket NumberDivorce Petition No 600186 of 2002 of 2003, Summons in Chambers No 650177 of 2004)
Date22 March 2004
Subject MatterFamily Law,Section 112 Women's Charter (Cap 353, 1997 Rev Ed),Whether relative financial positions of parties properly considered,Maintenance,Wife,Division,Matrimonial assets,Whether division of matrimonial property just and equitable,Section 114(1) Women's Charter (Cap 353, 1997 Rev Ed)

22 March 2004

Tan Lee Meng J:

1 The petitioner, Mdm Kwok Wai Leng, and the respondent, Mr Chan Sooi Hong, who were both dissatisfied with the decision of District Judge Hoo Sheau Peng with respect to the payment of maintenance and the division of their matrimonial home following their divorce, appealed against her decision. I dismissed both the appeals and now give my reasons for having done so.


2 Mdm Kwok and Mr Chan, who are both 64 years old, were married in June 1966. In the following year, their son, Ka Chi, was born. Mr Chan was then working in a bank and Mdm Kwok was a homemaker. In May 1969, they purchased a three-room Housing and Development Board flat in their joint names for $7,800. This flat, their matrimonial home and main asset, is at Block 152 Mei Ling Street, #06-06, Singapore 140152.

3 The marriage turned sour by 1981. By then, both parties lived in separate bedrooms. According to Mr Chan, Mdm Kwok did not cook or look after the family and he had to do housework and take care of their son. This was corroborated to some extent by their son, Ka Chi. Mdm Kwok denied these allegations.

4 After more than two decades of de facto separation, Mdm Kwok decided in the autumn of their lives to end her marriage to Mr Chan on the ground that they had separated since 1981. On 6 August 2002, a decree nisi to dissolve the marriage was granted. The district judge, who dealt with the ancillary matters, made the following orders:

(a) The husband is to pay $200 per month as maintenance for the wife with effect from 15 September 2003 and thereafter on the 15th day of each month.

(b) At the option of the husband to be exercised within six months of the order, the wife is to transfer or sell her right, title and interest in the matrimonial property at Block 152 Mei Ling Street, #06-06, Singapore 140152 to the husband and/or nominee, upon the husband paying the wife 35% of the valuation price of the property. From the payment, the wife is to refund to her Central Provident Fund (“CPF”) account the moneys withdrawn for the purchase of the flat, plus interest. The husband is to bear the costs and expenses of the transfer of the property.

(c) Should the husband not be able to effect the transfer as set out above, the property is to be sold in the open market within ten months of the order, with the net sale proceeds, after payment of the costs and expenses of sale, to be divided in the proportion of 35% to the wife and 65% to the husband. Each party is to refund to his or her CPF accounts the moneys used to purchase the flat and the accrued interest.

5 Both Mdm Kwok and Mr Chan appealed against the decision of the district judge. Mdm Kwok contended that she was entitled to more than $200 for monthly maintenance and that she ought to have been given an 80% share of the matrimonial home. On the other hand, Mr Chan took the view that his former wife was not entitled to any maintenance and that she ought to have been awarded a smaller share of the matrimonial home.


6 When considering whether or not the district judge’s order for maintenance ought to altered in any way, account must be taken of s 114(1) of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353, 1997 Rev Ed), which provides as follows:

In determining the amount of any maintenance to be paid by a man to his wife or former wife, the court shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case including the following matters:

(a) the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(b) the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(c) the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;

(d) the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;

(e) any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;

(f) the contributions made by each of the parties to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family; ...

7 Mr Chan, who is presently a taxi driver, said that he earns around $800 per month. Mdm Kwok, who claimed to have been unemployed for the last five years, asked for a monthly maintenance of $500.

8 The district judge, who carefully considered the parties’ respective financial positions, noted that while both parties had alleged in their affidavits that the other had undisclosed assets, these were bare and unsubstantiated assertions. She accepted that Mdm Kwok’s monthly expenses were around $600 per month and noted that the latter received $250 per month from an annuity. She did not believe that Mdm Kwok had been unemployed during the last five years. The district judge took into account the amount that Mdm Kwok earned or could earn by working as well as the money from the annuity and concluded that the latter ought to receive a monthly maintenance of $200 from her former husband.

9 Mr Chan’s counsel, Ms Seenivasan Lalita, pointed out that her client was already 64 years old and that...

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3 cases
  • Wan Lai Cheng v Quek Seow Kee
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 14 January 2011
    ...LLC) for the defendant. Chen Siew Hwee v Low Kee Guan [2006] 4 SLR (R) 605; [2006] 4 SLR 605 (refd) Kwok Wai Leng v Chan Sooi Hong [2004] 2 SLR (R) 386; [2004] 2 SLR 386 (refd) Lee Puey Hwa v Tay Cheow Seng [1991] 2 SLR (R) 196; [1991] SLR 198 (refd) Ong Chen Leng v Tan Sau Poo [1993] 2 SLR......
  • Wan Lai Cheng v Quek Seow Kee
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 14 January 2011
    ...wife 35% of the matrimonial property paid for by the husband in a 23-year marriage with 3 children. In Kwok Wai Leng v Chan Sooi Hong [2004] 2 SLR(R) 386, a wife was awarded 35% of the matrimonial flat in a 37-year marriage during which the wife’s contribution towards the acquisition amount......
  • Kuek Hoon Eng (m.w.) v Chew Keng Min
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 6 August 2004
    ...contributions to the acquisition and maintenance of matrimonial assets is itself not an exact science. In Kwok Wai Leng v Chan Sooi Hong [2004] SGHC 58, the marriage in question lasted as long as that in the present case, 37 years. However, there was evidence by the parties’ son in Kwok Wai......

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