Lim Choon Lai v Chew Kim Heng

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeHamidah Bte Ibrahim
Judgment Date22 September 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGDC 41
Citation[2000] SGDC 41
Published date19 September 2003



1. The parties were married on the 11/12/1970 at the Singapore marriage registry. Their 2 children are both adults. The marriage was dissolved on 20/04/99 on the wife’s petition and the husband’s cross-petition that the marriage broke irretrievably because of unreasonable conduct on the part of the other. The issues of the division of matrimonial assets and maintenance for the wife were adjourned to be heard in chambers.

2. These were heard before me and on the 19/07/2000, I made the following orders:-

    1) That the matrimonial property known as No.83, Namly Avenue, Singapore is to be sold in the open market within 6 months from today and the proceeds of sale, less expenses connected to sale, to be divided equally between the parties.

    2) That the Petitioner is to be given the 1st option to be exercised within 1 month, to purchase the Respondent’s share.

    3) No order as to maintenance.

    4) No order as to costs.

    The wife has now appealed against the above orders.

3. Although the parties were married in 1970, they had been living together since December, 1962. The wife was then an 18 year old student and according to the husband he provided her with food and lodging up to 1970 i.e. for a period of 8 years. The wife then went on to continue her studies at the university until she graduated in 1968. At the time of their marriage the wife was employed as a school teacher while the husband was a clerk. He had started working since June, 1958.

4. In 1979, the parties bought the subject matrimonial property, a 2 storey semi-detached house at No. 83, Namly Avenue. The total purchase price inclusive of costs and renovations amounted to $229,000. This is undisputed between the parties. To finance the purchase of the house, the parties then borrowed a sum of $90,000 from their employers (both were working in the civil service) to be paid at the rate of $633 per month. This, they did, in equal amounts of $316.50 per person.

5. With regard to the balance sum of $139,000, both the wife and the husband have conflicting versions as to the extent of their respective contributions. The husband said that he had paid $125,000. However, the wife claimed that the husband only contributed $22,768.82 and therefore she had contributed $107,047.00.

6. However, when I examined the figures further, I found that both the wife and husband were not able to substantiate their claims. Firstly, the wife claimed that inclusive in the amount of $107,047.00 is a sum of $30,273.00 which she received from the sale of their previous matrimonial flat at Holland road. The sale was in 1979/1980. Since the said flat had been paid solely using her CPF funds, she took the view that the proceeds of sale of $30,273 which she then used to pay for 83, Namly Avenue should be attributed entirely to her. The wife’s claim that she had used $30,273 towards the purchase price was demonstrated to be a lie by the husband. It would appear that only a sum of $6,995.97 was received as the nett proceeds from the sale of the Holland road flat and not the sum of $30,273 as alleged by the wife. When questioned, counsel for the wife could not offer any explanation. As for the sum of $6,995.97, I did not agree that the wife should be given sole credit. Although she had used her CPF monies to pay for the flat, the husband’s contributions for renovations and household expenses cannot be ignored. Since the sale took place 20 years ago, it would be futile to go into a minute examination of their exact contributions. Suffice for me to conclude that they should be entitled to the profit of the Holland road flat in equal shares.

7. Since only $6,955.97 came from the sale of the Holland Road flat and as the wife claimed that she paid $107,047 it would appear that the wife had amassed and saved from her salary the incredible sum of $100,000. This would have been from her salary as a school teacher from 1968 onwards. She has exhibited her income tax notices of assessment from 1971 to 1980 which shows that she has a total income of $116,885. If the wife claimed that she saved $100,000 for this 10 year period, there is...

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