Lee Inn Beng v Lim Soo Hwee (m.w.)

CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeLee Li Choon
Judgment Date01 September 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 110
Citation[2015] SGFC 110
Docket NumberDivorce No. 2422 of 2014
Hearing Date10 June 2015,22 June 2015
Plaintiff CounselMs Wong Soo Chih (Ho Wong Law Practice LLC)
Defendant CounselMs Loh Wai Mooi and Ms Ho Shiao Hong (Bih Li & Lee LLP)
Subject MatterCatchwords: Family Law,division of matrimonial assets,Family Law,maintenance for children
Published date16 September 2015
District Judge Lee Li Choon: Introduction

This is an appeal filed by the Plaintiff-husband against part of my decision given on 22 June 2015 on ancillary matters subsequent to a divorce. The husband’s appeal is against my decision on the children’s maintenance, the division of matrimonial assets as well as the lump sum maintenance I have ordered in favour of the wife.

The Plaintiff-husband and the Defendant-wife were married in Singapore on 29 October 1992. This is a marriage that lasted 23 years. There are two children from the marriage, a daughter who just turned 21 years old and a son who is 20 years old. The husband filed for divorce and the wife responded with her counterclaim. Interim Judgment dissolving the marriage on the ground that each party has behaved in such a way that the other party cannot reasonably be expected to live with that party was granted on 1 July 2014.


At the time of the hearing on the ancillary matters, the 21-year old daughter was pursuing her undergraduate studies at the National University of Singapore and the 20-year old son was serving full time national service. The husband is 50+ years old and he works as a Director, APAC at Elsevier (S) Pte Ltd. The wife is 54+ years old and she is a self-employed person working as a remisier at CIMB Securities (Singapore) Pte Ltd.

The parties in this case own a fully paid up HDB executive flat at Hougang which has an estimated value of $600K. Presently, the two children and the wife are living in this flat, as the husband had left the matrimonial home in November 2013 when the marriage broke down.

In addition to the HDB executive flat, parties in this case own a number of other assets, the details of which I will provide in the portion of my judgment on division of matrimonial assets between the parties.

Maintenance for the children Wife has care and control of children

On the issue of care and control that is relevant to the issue of the children’s maintenance in that it has to be ascertained as to who would be bearing the financial responsibility of seeing to the children’s housing and accommodation needs, the husband stated in his Statement of Claim and Proposed Parenting Plan that the wife should have care and control of the children as in his own words, “he wishes to minimize the disruption to the children’s lives as they already have had to deal with the parents’ divorce” and “further, he (the husband) would need to find a place to rent in the future and is uncertain of the suitability of the environment and location of his residence.”

As the fact is that the children have been living with the mother, and the husband himself wanted minimal change to the children’s lives, I therefore took the position that for these reasons, the wife should continue to have care and control of the children. Thus, the issue of maintenance has to be considered in that context.

Parties’ income

The husband is a Director at Elsevier (Singapore) Pte Ltd and draws a monthly salary of $13,838.31 (his monthly take home income is about $12,837.31). This amount does not include his bonus which the wife says is rather substantial given that he received a bonus of S$26,562.24 in March 2014. The husband has also recently set up a company, IconPOS (S) Pte Ltd which provides integration services. According to the husband, this business was set up in preparation for the eventuality of a retrenchment from his employment. The company has a paid up capital of $40,000 and the OCBC Statement of Account for this company from August 2014 to October 2014 shows an average monthly balance of only $36,286.41. Thus, the company is presently not profitable.

The wife works as a self-employed remisier at CIMB Securities (Singapore) Pte Ltd and her income is not fixed. Her average income from January 2014 to July 2014 is about $2,411 after deducting medisave contribution. She said in her affidavit that due to the many regulatory measures that have been introduced recently, her income as a remisier has been adversely affected and she believed that her income would not improve in the foreseeable future.

In addition, the wife was also diagnosed with diabetes in 2009. She incurs about $345 in medical expenses every month and foresees a rise in medical expenses in the future in light of her medical condition. Being self-employed, she has no medical benefits. On the whole, given her age, her medical condition and working experience, her future employment prospects and income capacity is not as good as the husband’s.

Therefore, as regards maintenance for the children, based on the facts as described in the above, the husband would have to shoulder the brunt of it as he had been throughout the marriage. It is not disputed that the husband contributed $7,000 per month for family expenses from May 2011 to February 2013. In February 2013, that amount was reduced to $5,500 as the husband said he needed funds for his new business venture. In paragraph 7(g) of the husband’s Statement of Claim and paragraph 3(c) of the Proposed Parenting Plan, the husband himself proposed to provide monthly maintenance of $2,000 for each child until they complete their tertiary education. The wife asked for $2,000 for each child and that in addition, the husband should provide for the children’s education expenses, including hostel fees. It is not disputed that the husband is presently paying for the elder daughter’s tertiary education expenses.

On the whole, I am of the view that the husband should continue to pay for the 2 children’s educational expenses up till their first degree. Section 69(5)(c) of the Women’s Charter, Cap 353, provides for the court’s power to make such orders in relation to the daughter who is now above 21 years old and for the son, to extend the effect of such court orders to after the son has attained the age of 21 years.

In addition to their tertiary school fees, I am of the view that the amount of $2000 for each child proposed by the husband is a reasonable one in light of his present income capacity. As the children are old enough to manage their own finances, I am of the view that a portion should be paid to them directly and so, I ordered for half of this monthly sum to be paid to each of the two children directly. As for the other half, I am of the view that the amount should be given to the wife as the children’s share of the household expenses in light of the fact that they are living with the mother. The wife would have to pay for all the necessary outgoings such as utilities, internet charges, conservancy charges, town council fees, property tax and other property-related expenses. As the children are living with her, the wife should be provided with a sum that represents their share of the household expenses which the wife will have to bear.

The above therefore explains my order that the husband shall pay $1000 per month to each child directly as the child’s maintenance and the total sum of $2,000 per month to the wife as the children’s maintenance. In total, the amount ordered by me for the husband to bear as the children’s maintenance is $4000 per month plus the educational expenses of the children until each graduates with the first degree.

Division of matrimonial assets

The pool of matrimonial assets amenable to division will first have to be determined.

Parties’ joint assets

For assets in joint names, parties have a fully paid up HDB executive flat that has an estimated value of $600,000. In addition, there is a POSB joint account which is amenable to division. For this joint POSB account, it is not disputed that the wife had transferred monies ($51,321.15) from this account to a DBS account (“Account 509”) which is an account the wife opened in December 2013 after the husband had allegedly stopped transferring housekeeping money into parties’ POSB joint account. For the purpose of determining the assets liable for division, the amount of money taken out by the wife from the POSB joint account is put back as a joint asset in the pool of matrimonial assets to be considered for division. All in all, other than the HDB executive flat, the assets in joint names including shares and balances in bank accounts amount to $496,640.

Wife’s assets

As for assets in the wife’s sole name, the wife has about $145,068.57 in her CPF account and shares, insurance policies, and savings all amounting to a total of $662,404.15 inclusive of her CPF monies. For this lot of assets, the wife did not include certain jewellery items kept in a safe deposit box with Bank of China as these were gift items to her for the wedding and gift items to the children. I see no reason to include these as they are clearly gifts and not matrimonial assets.

Husband’s assets

As for the husband, he has about $350,942.69 in his CPF account and he has other assets in the form of savings and shares. In his final affidavit, he declared the value of all of the assets in his sole name, including a loan of $50,000 to his sister which he has voluntarily included as an asset liable for division in the pool, to be $758,076.86. The wife alleged that there were monies in the husband’s possession that the husband has not been able to give an account for. Excluding these assets that are allegedly not accounted for, the wife’s computation of the husband’s assets comes up to $882,164.45. The wife’s tabulated amount included the amount of savings in 3 POSB joint accounts in the joint names of the husband and the children individually. These 3 POSB joint accounts have a total balance of $78,146.55. The husband had refused to include the savings in the 3 POSB joint accounts (one held jointly with the daughter and two held...

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