Macfarlane Lyle George v Maweikere Maria Luana & Another

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeSuriakumari d/o Sidambaram
Judgment Date21 June 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGDC 25
Citation[2000] SGDC 25
Published date19 September 2003



A. The Facts

1. The Petitioner, an Indonesian citizen, and the Respondent, a British citizen, were married on 9 November 1987 at the Civil Registration Office in Jakarta, Indonesia. They have 2 daughters from this marriage, namely, C, born on 23 August 1987 and P born on 23 June 1990. Both parties had lived in Singapore since 1993. At present, the Petitioner continues to live in Singapore on a long term pass. The Respondent had commenced working in Kuala Lumpur in 1999 and has been residing there with the Co-Respondent and his 2 children born to the Co-Respondent.

2. The Decree Nisi was granted on 6 August 1999 based on the ground that the marriage had irretrievably broken down due to the Respondent’s adultery. The ancillary issues of custody, access, maintenance, division of the matrimonial property and costs were adjourned to be heard in chambers. The hearing of these issues came up for hearing before me on 23 March 2000, 5 April 2000 and 15 April 2000. Prior to the hearing before me, there had been various interlocutory applications and orders made between the parties in this case, such as maintenance orders for the maintenance of the Petitioner and the 2 children, worldwide injunction prohibiting the Respondent from disposing of his assets, order in respect of the manner of the disposal of the CPF monies if withdrawn by the Respondent, and order restraining the Respondent from withdrawing or transferring the children from their present school or from taking the children out of jurisdiction without the Petitioner's consent.

3. After having heard the submissions of counsel for both the Petitioner and the Respondent in the ancillary matters, I made the following orders, namely:

(1) Petitioner to be granted custody , care and control of the 2 children of the marriage, namely :

(a) C (female) born on 23.8.87 and

(b) P (female) born on 23.6.90.

(2) During the time, the children are with the Petitioner, the Petitioner is to be with and spend her time with the children save for exigencies.

(3) Respondent to have reasonable access to the 2 children

(a) during weekends from 7 pm on Fridays to 2 pm on Sundays;

(b) during the 1st half of all the school holidays of both children and

(c) on alternate Christmas days from 1 pm on Christmas Eve to 3 pm on 26


Paragraph (c) is to take effect from Christmas 2001.

The Respondent is to give the Petitioner 2 days notice in advance if he

is unable to come for any of the access periods.

(4) The Respondent to pay Petitioner maintenance in the sum of $2500 for the Petitioner and the 2 children and also pay a further sum of $1395 comprising as follows :

    (a) PUB Bills $400,

    (b) Residential telephone $200

    (c) Maid’s salary $300

    (d) Foreign worker’s levy $345

    (e) Internet $50

    (f) Newspapers $30

    (g) Cable vision $70.

The Petitioner to be responsible for any amount in excess of the figures set out above.

(5) In addition, the Respondent is to (a) pay for the rental of the house where the Petitioner and the children reside in the sum of $2800; (b) pay for the medical and dental expenses of the Petitioner and the 2 children; (c) purchase 1 return air ticket to Indonesia for the Petitioner and the 2 children each year; and (d) pay for the school fees of the 2 children.

(6) The Petitioner is to provide a written monthly account of her expenses on the children to the Respondent when the Respondent comes for access to the children on the last week of each month’

(7) The Maintenance Order in paragraphs 4,5 & 6 of this order to take effect from 1.5.2000 except that the rental of the premises in paragraph 5 to take effect after the expiry of the existing tenancy agreement.

(8) The matrimonial assets being the monies in the following :

    (a) Barclays Bank Clampham Junction,

    (b) Respondent’s CPF account

    (c) Universal Retirement Fund

    (d) Laurentian Life Assurance

    (e) National Australian Bank

    (f) Lloyds TSB

    (g) Standard Chartered Jersey

    (h) Coates Brothers Pension Scheme

    (i) Domino UK Pension Scheme

be divided between the Petitioner & the Respondent in the proportion of 35% to the Petitioner and 65% to the Respondent.

(9) Liberty to parties to apply.

(10) Costs to be agreed or taxed.

4. The Respondent being dissatisfied only with the decision in respect of the custody and access to the 2 children and maintenance for the 2 children and the Petitioner, appeals against those orders. This grounds of decision will therefore only address these issues raised by the Respondent in his appeal.

(a) Custody and Access

5. The 2 children of the marriage are 12 and 9 years of age respectively. They have all along been living with the Petitioner and have been in her sole physical custody, care and control since the separation of the parties. Both children are schooling in Singapore at the Tanglin Trust School.

6. On 2 March 2000, at the hearing of an appeal by the Respondent against an order disallowing him to cross examine the Petitioner on her affidavits, the learned Judicial Commissioner Chan Seng Onn had made no order on the appeal and directed that the District Judge hearing the ancillary issues shall personally interview the 2 children as well as the Petitioner, Respondent and Co-Respondent in these proceedings to determine as to which parent would serve the welfare of the children best.

7. In addition, at the request of the counsel, the Family Court had ordered a Social Welfare Report for the court's consideration as to which parent would be in a better position to serve the best interest of the children.

8. Thus, I carefully scrutinized the contents of the Social Welfare Report put up by the Ministry of Community Development. Further, pursuant to the order of the learned Judicial Commissioner, I conducted a meticulous and separate interviews with each of the 2 children, the Petitioner, the Respondent and the Co-Respondent in order to determine which parent would serve the welfare of the children best.

9. The Petitioner is a full time housewife residing in Singapore and the Respondent is a Regional Business Development Manager, Asia Pacific Region with Akzo Nobel Inks Asia Pacific of Manchester UK, who works and resides with the Co-Respondent and their 2 young children in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

10. If the Respondent is granted custody of the 2 children, the Respondent would immediately take them away to Malaysia, and out of the jurisdiction of the Singapore courts. In fact, the Respondent had clearly stated that he ultimately wants the children to be residents of UK and will be bringing them there. In reality, it would mean that the children would not have any constant contact or access to the Petitioner since the Petitioner, unlike the Respondent, does not have the means or opportunity to travel frequently to have regular access to the children in Malaysia and the UK.

11. It is undisputed that the Respondent has a son born out of his previous marriage who lives in Belgium and a daughter born out of his previous cohabitation. Based on the evidence before the court, the Respondent never kept constant contact with the son of the previous marriage and, in fact, not at all with the daughter born out of previous cohabitation in April 1987 and who lives in Trinidad. The Respondent admitted that he never maintained the daughter in Trinidad and never claimed that he was still in touch with the daughter. In fact, he admitted having "abandoned" his daughter. As for the son from the Respondent's first marriage, although the Respondent claimed that he had kept in touch with the son regularly through letters, e-mail and over the telephone, there is no evidence adduced of any of these regular contacts apart from one letter written by the son on 29 December 1999. This letter was adduced in court by the Respondent only in his 8th affidavit. Despite the Petitioner's Counsel's submissions that the letter of 29 December 1999, was procured by the Respondent at the eleventh hour solely for the purposes of these proceedings, the Respondent failed to produce to the court any other document of his constant contact with his son. According to the Petitioner, the only reason the Respondent is contesting custody, care and control of the 2 daughters is because he does not want to pay any maintenance for them and that the Respondent himself had indicated this to her.

12. The Respondent claimed that Chad a weight problem and that he could encourage her to do more exercise and be careful with her diet. He also claimed that he could help the children with their homework. He further claimed that he could afford extra lessons, and bring the children out for outdoor activities. He added that he would enjoy financial benefits from his employment if he were granted the custody of the children and that the costs of living in Malaysia was lower to raise the children.

13. However, it is undisputed that the Respondent is working and travels frequently in his job. According to the Petitioner since 1993, the Respondent had been travelling overseas for about more than a week every month in his employment. This would mean that the children would be ultimately left in the care of the Co-Respondent during the better part of the day when the Respondent is at work and during the whole of the periods that the Respondent is away from the country. It is highly doubtful that the Co-Respondent, who has 2 very young children, aged about 1 year and about 3 months of her own to take care of, would have the time or energy to cater to the needs of these growing up girls. There was also some indication that the Co-Respondent, a degree holder, has intentions to work. This would mean that the children would be left by themselves or to be looked after by the maid.

14. The Petitioner does not want her daughters to be brought up by the Respondent, Co-Respondent or the maid. She wants to look after them herself. The Petitioner, a...

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