Ong Been Yan v Chia Kok Wei

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeEmily Wilfred
Judgment Date20 March 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGDC 11
Citation[2000] SGDC 11
Published date19 September 2003



Background Facts

The petitioner ("wife") and the respondent ("husband") were lawfully married on 9th January 1982 at the Singapore Marriage Registry. They have two (2) children to the marriage namely –

a. J (f) born on 7th March 1983;and

b. R (m) born on 2nd May 1985.

2 On 23rd October 1998, the wife filed a petition for divorce on the ground that the marriage had irretrievably broken down in that the husband and wife had lived apart for a continuous period of at least three (3) years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition, namely since 23rd August 1995 and the husband consented to a decree being granted.

3 The petition was heard on an uncontested basis on 17th December 1998 and a decree nisi was granted on the same day. The issues of custody of the two children, maintenance of the wife and children and division of matrimonial assets were adjourned to be heard in chambers.

4 The ancillary issues came for hearing before me on 3rd January 2000 and after reviewing the evidence in the affidavits filed by the husband and the wife and submissions by counsel, I reserved my judgment and made the following orders on 6th January 2000 -

(1) Custody, care and control of the two children be granted to the Petitioner with reasonable access to the Respondent;

(2) The matrimonial home at [address] be sold in the open market within three (3) months from 6 January 2000 and after deducting:

(a) the outstanding mortgage loan on the property;

(b) the refund of the parties’ CPF monies to their respective CPF accounts together with the accrued interest; and

(c) all expenses and costs incidental to the sale.

(3) The Respondent shall pay the Petitioner a monthly maintenance for two (2) children as follows :-

(a) S$1,500 per month from 1st January 2000 to the time of the sale of the property; and

(b) thereafter S$1,000.00 a month.

(4) The Respondent shall pay the Petitioner a sum of S$100.00 a month for her maintenance from 1st January 2000.

The Respondent, being dissatisfied, has appealed against my orders on maintenance for the wife and children and the division of the matrimonial home

Matrimonial Property

5 After the marriage in 1982, the couple lived with the husband’s father at 43 Wan Tho Avenue and in 1987 they lived in rented flat at Bukit Panjang until the they moved into their purchased HDB flat at Blk 128, Bishan Street 12, # 22-235 (" Bishan flat"). The wife contributed $58,757.19 and the husband $43,219.58 towards the purchase of the flat. The husband claimed that he had spent $35,000 to renovate the flat but he was unable to substantiate it. Although the wife disputed the amount, she admitted that he did carry out some renovation works in the flat as he was a renovation contractor at the relevant time. Both parties contributed towards the household expenses. Hence I concluded that both parties contributed equally towards the purchase and enhancement of the Bishan flat.

6 The Bishan flat was sold on 17 November 1991 for S$223,000.00. The husband had, in para. 11 of page 5 of his affidavit dated16th Jul 1999 ("1st affidavit") accounted for the proceeds of sale. A sum of S$76,463.50 was used to pay the 10% deposit and legal fees for the purchase of the second matrimonial home known as [address] ("matrimonial property") on 15th January 1992. The property was purchased from the husband’s late mother’s estate for S$530,000. The husband claimed that the property was sold to him and the Petitioner at a discount because the real value of the property was S$800,000. He instructed M/s Jones Lang LaSalle to do a valuation of the property for the relevant period based on sales in that area at the relevant time and old photographs of the house. The valuers confirmed that the purchase price was about S$800,000 (see "CKW 5" of husband’s 1st affidavit). The wife disputed that and she relied on a valuation report by Knight Frank, Cheong Hock Chye & Baillien dated 26th April 1988 (closer to date of purchase and actual inspection of the property) to show that they bought the property at market rate. The property was then valued at S$470,000 ("OBY 3" of wife’s affidavit dated 30th July 1999). The estate also received offers between S$500,000 and S$560,000. Hence she was of the view that the sale price of $530,000 was a competitive market price. In view of the fact that the property was purchased on 15th January 1992, four (4) years after the 1st valuation of $470,000, I accepted the fact that the property was sold to the parties at a discount.

7 The husband claimed that he paid a sum of $278,641.83 to renovate the house as it was in a dilapidated state. He had produced receipts to substantiate his claim. The wife disputed the receipts as she was of the view that they were merely quotations. However I accepted the evidence as I was of the view that it was not possible for the husband to adduce such evidence as the renovations took place a long time ago. Furthermore, the wife agreed that the house was not in a habitable state when they bought it. The husband did not disputed the fact that the wife had paid a sum of $10,000 towards the renovation. It was also not disputed that the wife paid the property tax on the house since they moved in . The wife’s payment of property tax for the year 1996 and...

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