Lee Siew Choo v Ling Chin Thor

JurisdictionSingapore
JudgeChoo Han Teck J
Judgment Date24 September 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] SGHC 185
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberDivorce Transferred No 2965 of 2012
Year2014
Published date10 October 2014
Hearing Date31 July 2014,14 August 2014
Plaintiff CounselMimi Oh Kim Heoh (Mimi Oh Law Practice)
Defendant CounselWong Chai Kin (Wong Chai Kin)
Subject MatterFamily law,Maintenance,Child,Wife,Matrimonial assets,Division
Citation[2014] SGHC 185
Choo Han Teck J:

This case concerned issues of maintenance of both ex-wife and child, and the division of matrimonial assets. The plaintiff/wife is 56 years old and works as a part-time accounts executive. The defendant/husband is 63 years old and was working as an engineer in China before he retired in 2006. He remains unemployed. The parties married on 30 August 1979. The wife filed for divorce on 18 June 2012. The interim judgment for divorce was granted in the District Court on 10 August 2012 on the ground that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least four years immediately preceding the filing of the writ for divorce under s 95(3)(e) of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353, 2009 Rev Ed). They lived apart since January 2008. Effectively, the marriage lasted for 29 years. The ancillary matters were transferred to the High Court because the matrimonial assets exceed $1.5m.

The parties have two daughters aged 25 and 23. The older daughter is a nurse and still lives with her father at 27 Hazel Park Terrance, (“Hazel Park property”) which was the parties’ matrimonial home. The younger daughter is studying in the National Institute of Education (“NIE”) for a Bachelor of Arts (Education) – Primary on a scholarship awarded by the Ministry of Education. The scholarship pays her tuition fees and gives her an annual allowance (referred to in the scholarship agreement as “stipend”) of $5,000. She started in August 2013 and is expected to graduate in May 2015. The wife’s lawyer said that the younger daughter was also on a scholarship for the diploma in 2011 and 2012. Her monthly scholarship allowance then was $1,600. I note that the academic calendar does not last the whole calendar year, nor does it start in January. The wife seeks lump sum maintenance for the younger daughter only. There is no need for maintenance for the older daughter who has reached maturity and has a job.

I start with the division of the parties’ matrimonial assets. The figures provided were up to 2012 only. The largest matrimonial asset is the Hazel Park property. Its estimated value in 2012, according to the wife, is $1,325,000. The husband’s estimate of the value of the property in 2012 is $1.3m. Now however, the husband says that the property price should be estimated conservatively at $1.2m as the government introduced fiscal measures in 2014 that resulted in a fall in property prices. The parties are in agreement that they are tenants-in-common of the Hazel Park property – the wife holds a 25% share in it; whereas the husband holds the remaining 75% share. The husband says that this mirrors the financial contributions made by them. The wife says that the entirety of the sales proceeds from the en-bloc sale of the previous matrimonial home at 1B Gillman Heights (“Gilman Heights property”) amounting to $844,974.12 was used to finance the purchase of the Hazel Park property. The Hazel Park property was purchased for $805,000 in May 2009. The wife did not adduce any evidence of the financial contributions made by the parties in purchasing the Gilman Heights property. The parties do not co-own other property.

In respect of the Hazel Park property the wife claims that the husband has had sole enjoyment of that property since August 2010 to date. Her counsel submits that this is a factor that should be borne in mind in dividing the matrimonial assets. The husband did not enjoy sole occupation of this property. On the contrary, he lived in it with the older daughter. I am aware that the wife was excluded from the Hazel Park property and that she now lives in a HDB flat in Bukit Merah. Her expenses incurred in respect of alternative accommodation (if any) should be considered, but she has not adduced any evidence of such.

The property in the wife’s name consists of money in bank and CPF accounts, insurance policies, shares and a motor vehicle (Honda). The wife is prepared to pool these assets (except the motor vehicle) with those of the husband for division. She says that the car is due to be scrapped next year and it would be pointless to include it in the matrimonial pool. In any event, she says she paid for it. The value of the assets the wife is prepared to include in the pool of matrimonial assets, according to her, is $687,989.56. The husband says that the wife owns assets worth $997,290.26 (including the Honda). The discrepancy in the figures is due in large part to the wife saying that the following sums of monies should not be included in the pool of matrimonial assets: $208,004.34 (monies belonging to the wife’s mother, Madam Tang Kim Lien); $28,761.16 (savings of the two daughters held in the wife’s POSB account); and the remaining value of the motor vehicle. (a) and (b) should not be included in the pool of matrimonial assets. But there is no basis to exclude (c) from the pool of matrimonial assets. The fact that the motor vehicle is due to be scrapped next year is no basis to exclude it from the pool. It is not disputed that the motor vehicle was purchased during the marriage. It therefore falls within the definition of matrimonial asset under s 112(10) of the Women’s Charter.

The wife says that the husband owns monies in bank and CPF accounts, insurance policies and shares amounting to $1,659,068.79, which should form part of the pool of matrimonial assets. The husband disputes this. He says he owns property totalling about half of that - $811,979.72. This is the sum total of what he declares in his written submissions: (1) personal cash in three bank accounts totalling $663,510.93 and (2) monies in his CPF account totalling $148,468.79. The husband says he has made full and frank disclosure, and that if there is any adverse inference to be drawn, it should be against the wife for failing to declare the contents of her safe deposit boxes. The husband states at paragraph 11 of his affidavit dated 25 June 2013 that the wife, in paragraph 9 to her affidavit filed on 4 October 2012 “acknowledged she had safe deposit boxes but failed to declare her assets in [them]”. But there is no reference to any safe deposit box in that paragraph of the wife’s affidavit. I am inclined to believe that the husband has not made full and frank disclosure and has under-declared his assets. First, the husband only disclosed entries on pages 8 to 10 of his POSB Savings Account Book (but not the first seven pages). Second, the husband did not furnish statements from his Hong Leong Finance deposit account even though he admits that he owns this account in his paragraph 7 of his affidavit dated 30 November 2012. I therefore accept the wife’s submission that the value of the husband’s assets to be included the matrimonial pool is $1,659,068.79.

The husband submits that the wife should get not more than a 30% share in the Hazel Park property and at most 35% share in the other assets. The wife submits that assets should be divided equally for the division of matrimonial assets to be just and equitable. Section 112(1) of the Women’s Charter provides that:

The court shall have power, when granting or subsequent to the grant of a judgment of divorce, judicial separation or nullity of marriage, to order the division between the parties of any matrimonial asset or the sale of any such asset and the division between the parties of the proceeds of sale of any such assets in such proportions as the court thinks just and equitable.

Section 112(2) of the Women’s Charter goes on to state a list of non-exhaustive factors that a court should take into account in deciding a just and equitable division.

It is evident that the wife’s financial contributions are less than those of the husband. But this is not surprising given that her pay is lower. Financial and non-financial contributions are equally important in...

To continue reading

Request your trial
15 cases
  • VLW v VLX
    • Singapore
    • Family Court (Singapore)
    • October 15, 2020
    ...bar. Before this court, the Care-Giver sought a liberal interpretation of the High Court’s decision in Lee Siew Choo v Ling Chin Thor [2014] SGHC 185 (“Lee Siew Choo”), which held that the time-bar did not apply to maintenance orders made in the context of ancillary proceedings to divorce. ......
  • UQZ v URA
    • Singapore
    • Family Court (Singapore)
    • January 8, 2019
    ...at this standard of living. For the above reasons, I disallow the additional claim made by the Wife. In Lee Siew Choo v Ling Ching Thor [2014] SGHC 185, it was held that in deciding whether to grant an order for backdated maintenance, the court should have regard to the overall circumstance......
  • TEL v TEM
    • Singapore
    • Family Court (Singapore)
    • June 30, 2015
    ...does not apply to enforcement of child maintenance. This was the position taken by the High Court in Lee Siew Choo v Ling Chin Thor [2014] SGHC 185. In deciding to back-date a maintenance order for the child and ordering a lump-sum payment, the High Court held at para [18] as follows: “Sect......
  • AOB v AOC
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • January 20, 2015
    ...for the children should be backdated to the date of the interim judgment (10 October 2011). In Lee Siew Choo v Ling Chin Thor [2014] SGHC 185, I held the following (at [15]): A backdated order for maintenance ensures that the parent in default pays for the child’s needs right from the outse......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Family Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2014, December 2014
    • December 1, 2014
    ...in the new family justice landscape in Singapore. When equality in division can be justified 16.60 In Lee Siew Choo v Ling Chin Thor[2014] SGHC 185 (Lee Siew Choo), the couple divorced after being married for 29 years. They hadtwo daughters. The largest matrimonial asset and the only proper......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT