Leong Mei Chuan v Chan Teck Hock David

JurisdictionSingapore
JudgeEmily Wilfred
Judgment Date10 April 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGDC 13
Published date19 September 2003
Year2000
Citation[2000] SGDC 13
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)

Judgment

GROUNDS OF DECISION

Background Facts

The petitioner ("wife") and the respondent ("husband") were lawfully married on 21st September 1983 at the Singapore Marriage Registry. They have three (3) children to the marriage namely –

a. C (f) born on 15th November 1985;

b. S (m) born on 18th January 1989; and

c. V, born on 14th July 1990.

2. On 21 November 1997 the wife filed a petition for divorce on the ground of the husband’s unreasonable behaviour and she subsequently filed a supplemental petition on 29th July 1998 on the ground that the marriage had irretrievably broken down in that the husband had committed adultery and she found it intolerable to live with him.

3. The petition was heard on an uncontested basis on 24th September 1998 and a decree nisi was granted on the same day. The issues of custody of the three children, maintenance of the wife and children and division of matrimonial assets were adjourned to a date to be heard in chambers.

4. The ancillary issues came for hearing before me on 4th November, 6th& 17th December 1999 & 20th January 2000 and after reviewing the evidence in the affidavits filed by the husband and the wife and submissions by counsel, I made the following orders on 20th January 2000 -

(1) Petitioner shall have custody, care and control of the three (3) children of the marriage with reasonable access to the Respondent as follows

    (i) overnight access once a month on every second last Friday of the month from Friday 10.30pm to Sunday 5.00pm;

    (ii) first half of the school holidays in June and December with liberty to take the children out of Singapore. In the event the Respondent takes the children out of jurisdiction he shall –

    (a) Provide Petitioner with details of their itinerary, contact numbers, addresses at least 5 days before the children are scheduled to leave Singapore;

    (b) get the children to call Petitioner every 2 days and

    (c) return the children’s passports to Petitioner within 24 hours of their return.

    (iii) alternate public holidays from 2.00pm to 9.00pm;

    (iv) either day before, the day after or on the day of the children’s birthdays for half the day;

    (v) either Christmas day or New Year’s day from 2.00pm to 9.00pm to alternate each year;

    (vi) half a day with all three children on Respondent’s birthday;

    (vii) alternate overnight access during the Chinese New Year Holidays i.e from 9.00am of New Year’s Eve to 1.00pm of the 1st day and in subsequent year overnight access from 1.00pm of 1st day of Chinese New Year to the end of 2nd day at 9.00pm;

    (viii) when the Respondent returns to live in Singapore in February 2000, in addition to the access specified above in (ii) to (vii), he shall have access, in place of (i) as follows:

    (a) every 1st and 3rd weekend of each month from Friday 10.30pm to Sunday 5.00pm; and

    (b) every Wednesday of 2nd and 4th week of each month from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.

2. Respondent shall pay Petitioner a sum of $16,000 per month for the maintenance of three (3) children and wife ($5,000 per child per month and $1,000 for wife per month) with effect from 1st January 2000 and thereafter on the 1st of each month. Payment direct.

3. Respondent shall transfer all his rights, interest and title in the matrimonial home known as [address] ("matrimonial home") upon Petitioner paying him 40% of the net value of the matrimonial home based on the agreed value of $1,850,000 less outstanding loan to the mortgage bank. The Respondent shall refund to his CPF account from his share of the proceeds all monies utilised for the purchase of the matrimonial home together with accrued interest. The said transfer shall take place within 3 months of this order and the Petitioner shall bear the costs of the said Transfer.

4. Respondent shall transfer all his rights, interest and title in the property known as No.1 Blakehurst Drive, Robina Waters Gold Coast to the Petitioner absolutely, within 3 months from this order with no consideration and shall be solely liable for the outstanding mortgage loan secured on the property.

5. The Petitioner shall be entitled to 15% of the Respondent’s Dell stocks namely:

(a) his 111,100 shares purchased from the open market and valued at US$4,575,986.80 as at 4.11.99;

(b) his 10,821 shares bought from the Employee Stock Purchase Plan valued at US$445,695.00 as at 4.11.99;

(c) his gains of Dell shares vested and exercised by Respondent under the Non Statutory Option Agreement Scheme, amounting to US$2,573,328.00 less tax to be paid on such gains (proof of demand of payment from IRAS).

6. There shall be no division of Dell stocks in the Non-Statutory Stock Option Agreements which have yet to be vested in the Respondent.

7. Each party is to retain all other assets in his/her own name.

8. That CSV Holdings Pte Ltd be would up and the Petitioner and Respondent shall be liable for its debts and expenses of winding up in the proportion of 70-30% in favour of the Petitioner.

9. That the Orders of Court dated 21 August 1998 and 10th March 1999 injuncting Respondent’s assets be discharged; and

10. Costs to the Petitioner to be taxed or agreed.

11. Liberty to apply.

12. Leave granted to extract Decree Nisi Absolute out of time.

Both parties, being dissatisfied, had appealed against my orders on custody, maintenance for the wife and children and the division of the matrimonial assets.

Custody of the children

5. At the hearing of the ancillary matters, there was no existing order made on the custody, care and control of the three children. They were residing with the Petitioner at the matrimonial home. The husband made several applications regarding access culminating in two Orders of Court dated 5th August 1998 and 16th April 1999 which set out in detail his stipulated time of access. The husband had asked for joint custody of the children with care and control to the wife which I declined to make and gave the wife sole custody, care and control of the children. In his Notice of Appeal, the Respondent prayed that the custody order be varied in that the he should be consulted and his consent obtained on issues of the children’s education and religion. I adopted the reasoning in Ho Quee Neo Helen v. Lim Pui Hong [1974] 2 MLJ 51 at pg 52 & 53 where the Court held that joint custody should be granted only in cases where "the parents have the capacity to co-operate in caring for the welfare of the child". There had been umpteen applications for access since 1997 and the parties had resorted to communicating with each other through their lawyers on every small issue concerning the children. It can be gleaned through their numerous affidavits that their relationship was highly contentious and acrimonious. I could not foresee the parents cooperating with each other on the education and religion of the children. Furthermore I was of the view that children were old enough to voice their own views on such matters and if the wife was to force her views on the children, they could inform their father who could then make the necessary application to court. The husband has a strong bond with the eldest daughter who is sixteen years old but his relationship with the son is somewhat strained as he is very close to his mother. Although the wife professed to be a Christian, she had never insisted that the children attend her "cell " group meetings /activities. The husband has been and is a free thinker and had never objected to the children’s being involved in the Christian faith. I see no reason why status quo should not be maintained. With regard to education, the children are already attending schools. In all fairness, the husband has not accused the wife of being incapable of raising the children. In fact he consented to her having care and control of them. I was of the view that it would be detrimental to the welfare of the children if I made an order that the husband’s consent be obtained on matters of religion and education in view of their acrimonious relationship.

Matrimonial Assets

Applicable law

6. The applicable law governing division of matrimonial assets is Section 112 of the Women ‘s Charter (Amendment) Act 1996 which came into force on 1st May 1997. Under section 112, all assets acquired by the parties during the marriage constitute matrimonial assets falling for division. I took into consideration the factors laid down in section 112 of the Woman’s Charter. The section confers the court with wide discretionary powers to make a just and equitable division of the matrimonial assets. The court’s task would be to translate the contribution made by a spouse to a sum that fairly represented her/his share in the matrimonial assets. This undoubtedly was a difficult task and not a pure exercise in arithmetic that would yield some degree of exactitude and certainty. The court had to adopt a ‘broad brush’ approach after giving serious consideration to the factors laid down in Section 112(2) and Section 113.

7. The matrimonial assets of the parties consists of several bank accounts of the husband and wife, stocks and shares , insurance policies, CPF monies, cars and club memberships, the matrimonial home at [address], the property known as No. 1 Blakehurst Drive Australia and the Dell stocks and monies in the Salomon Smith Barney account (see pages 44 to 49 of the Respondent’s submission dated 3th November 1999. The wife asked for the division of-

(1) the matrimonial home ;

(2) the property at No.1 Blakehurst Drive, Robina Waters, Gold Coast, Australia; and

(3) Dell stocks and monies in the Salomon Smith Barney account.

I made the following orders -

(1) Respondent...

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