Ong Chen Leng v Tan Sau Poo

CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin J
Judgment Date23 July 1993
Neutral Citation[1993] SGCA 53
Citation[1993] SGCA 53
Subject MatterMaintenance,Inference to be drawn,Women,Family Law,Failure of husband to make full disclosure of property and income,Failure to make full disclosure of property and income,Assets acquired during marriage,Wife,principle,s 106 Charter (Cap 353),Husband cohabiting with another,r 40 Matrimonial Proceedings Rules,Matrimonial assets,s 108(1) & (2) Charter (Cap 353),Quantification of maintenance,s 106(3) & (4)Charter (Cap 353),Division,favour,Purchase of matrimonial home in joint names of husband and wife,Clean break,Lump sum payment,Presumption of advancement/right of survivorship in wife
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselAshok Kan Chugani (Ong Goh & Chugani)
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 110 of 1992
Date23 July 1993
Defendant CounselLoo Choon Chiaw and Wee Woon Hong (Loo & Partners)

Cur Adv Vult

The appellant, Ong Chen Leng (the husband) appeals against the ancillary orders made on 24 July 1992 in Divorce Petition No 1203 of 1991. The ancillary orders made were as follows:

(1) the respondent (the husband) do transfer to the petitioner (the wife) all his interest in the matrimonial property at 27 Taman Serasi #04-27, Singapore 1025 (Lot 420-3-D, Town Subdivision 25 registered under Subsidiary Strata Certificate of Title Volume 16, Folio 120) free from encumbrances, in particular that the respondent do discharge the mortgage in favour of the Overseas Union Bank Ltd registered against the said matrimonial property as number I/18144D and the charge in favour of the Central Provident Fund Board registered against the said matrimonial property as number A/44949, within ninety (90) days from the date thereof;

(2) the respondent do pay to the petitioner a lump sum of $80,000 such sum to be paid by equal quarterly instalments of $10,000 each with effect from 1 August 1992;

(3) the respondent do pay to the petitioner $1,500 being costs of and incidental to the petitioner`s application for reliefs in respect of the ancillary matters relating to her divorce petition; and

(4) the parties to have liberty to apply.

The husband married Tan Sau Poo (the wife) at the Registry of Marriages, Singapore on 9 January 1968. At the date of their marriage the wife had already borne of the husband, on 14 July 1967, twin daughters, Sharon and Karen Ong. A third child, a son, Roland Ong Beng Teck, was born on 25 October 1969. At the date of the presentation of the petition for divorce by the wife on 3 April 1991, all three children were sui juris. The twin daughters now live with the wife and the son now lives with the husband but during their infancy all three children lived with and were brought up by the wife and, as will be seen later, were largely supported financially by the husband.

At the start of the marriage the husband worked as a door to door salesman selling electrical and household appliances. Their first matrimonial home was a small kampong house at Lorong Marsiling where they lived with the husband`s parents and his grandmother. The wife worked periodically as a hairdresser until about 1969 after which she devoted herself entirely to looking after the infant children and carrying out household duties.

In those early days there were many stresses on the marriage. Living with the husband`s parents and his grandmother, the long hours the husband had to work as a door to door salesman to support his wife and infant children and the shortage of means which could sustain but a threadbare existence were mainly responsible for this. However, by sheer dint of hard work the husband had sufficient funds in his Central Provident Fund (`CPF`) account to enable him to purchase a Housing and Development Board flat at Queen`s Road in 1974, which he purchased solely in his own name and into which they moved. Although the husband was now financially better off it did not do anything to repair the strained relations with his wife even though they now formed their own family unit, separate from his parents and grandmother.

In about 1976 the husband left the matrimonial home at Queen`s Road to cohabit with one Ng Hui Sim, named in the divorce petition as the co-respondent whom he had befriended in about 1973. Initially they cohabited at a flat in Gilstead Road, then from 1979 at an apartment at Emerald Hill Road and from January 1984, in a house at Wan Tho Avenue. The husband continues to cohabit with the said Ng Hui Sim to this day.

Although the husband left the matrimonial house at Queen`s Road in about 1976, it is not disputed by the wife that the husband bore all outgoings and expenses in respect of the Queen`s Road flat and provided the wife with maintenance for herself and the children in the range of $1,200 to $1,500 per month. This was reduced to a sum of between $1,000 to $800 per month when the twin daughters started working. It was further reduced to $600 per month when the son started working. For a brief period before the presentation of the divorce petition the maintenance payments stopped but, by agreement between the respective solicitors, were resumed in March 1991 at $400 per month. It is also not disputed by the wife that the husband regularly visited the children, three to four times a week, stayed overnight sometimes, drove the children to school often and during the school vacations took the wife and the children for holidays to such places as Cameron Highlands, Penang, Brunei and even Hong Kong. It is not contended by either that this in any way amounted to a resumption of cohabitation between the husband and the wife. On the other hand, the wife complains that the maintenance payments throughout were insufficient for herself and the children and that she had to supplement the maintenance payments by taking on baby-sitting work which brought her an additional income, initially, of $200 per month which later increased to $400 per month and to $650 per month.

In 1982 the husband set up his own business. He incorporated a company called Family Circle Pte Ltd (`Family Circle`) in Singapore which had a Malaysian subsidiary. Both businesses failed. However, Family Circle and the Malaysian subsidiary were not put into liquidation and exist to this day as dormant companies. The husband then incorporated another company called Duskin Pte Ltd (`Duskin`) through which he conducted and continues to this day to conduct a successful business dealing in electrical and household appliances.

In 1985 the husband sold the Queen`s Road flat which he had purchased in 1974 and which it will be remembered was registered in his sole name and which was the matrimonial home from 1974 onwards. It is contended by him and not denied by the wife that she did not contribute financially towards the purchase of the Queen`s Road flat. The...

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