Ooi Florence v Ng Aik Aaron

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeHamidah Bte Ibrahim
Judgment Date21 June 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGDC 24
Citation[2000] SGDC 24
Published date19 September 2003



1. The parties were married on the 4th January,1985 at the Singapore Registry of Marriages. They have 2 children, a daughter, aged 10 and a son, aged 7.

2. The Petitioner (wife) was granted on the 22nd of November, 1998 a decree nisi dissolving her marriage on the ground that the marriage had irretrievably broken down in that the parties have been living apart for a period of 3 years and the Respondent (husband) consents to a decree being granted. At the same time, with the agreement of the parties, joint custody of the 2 children was granted to the both of them but with care and control to the wife. Orders as to access, normal as well as during the school holidays, were also provided in the decree nisi. The rest of the ancillaries i.e the questions of maintenance for the wife/children and the division of matrimonial assets were adjourned to chambers.

3. These were heard before me on the 18th of April,2000. After hearing the parties , I made the following orders:-

1) The Sum of $500,000 to be given to the Petitioner being her share of all matrimonial assets and as lump sum maintenance for her.

2) Respondent is ordered to pay $1,500 per month as maintenance for the 2 children only with effect from 1/04/2000 and thereafter on the 1st of each month.

3) Payment into a bank account to be designated by the Petitioner.

4) Liberty to apply.

5) No order as to costs.

4. The wife is now appealing against the above orders.

5. After their marriage on the 4th January,1985 the parties went through a Chinese customary marriage and thereafter lived together as man and wife. Their 2 children were born on 21/12/1989 and 4/2/1993. The husband, who was then in the Armed Forces, was subsequently seconded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was sent to Japan in October, 1993. The wife visited him for about a month in April, 1994. When the husband returned in October,1994, the parties started living separate lives although under the same roof. Subsequently, in November 1997 the wife left to stay with her mother but the children remained in the matrimonial home with their father. Eventually the wife took the children with her and since June 1999 they have been living with her at her mother’s home.

6. I will deal firstly with the division of the matrimonial assets. This comprises the matrimonial home known as No-61, Jalan Tua Kong, a 2 storey semi-detached house. This property had been sold for $1.5 million on the 9/12/99. The only outstanding issue left was as to the division of the proceeds of sale. I was informed that a sum of $771,355.89 representing the nett proceeds is being held by the husband’s solicitors as stakeholders pending the determination of the ancillaries. As a sum of $376,706.80 had been refunded into his CPF account, after the sale, I was of the view that in actuality there was a sum of $1,148,062.69 to be distributed ($771,355.89 plus $376,706.80) between the parties because the sum refunded into the husband’s CPF account should also be taken into account.

7. The history of the purchase of the said matrimonial property is undisputed. Sometime in 1984 the parties bought the property jointly for the sum of $680,000. The husband took a loan of $350,000 from his mother, used $44,000 of his own savings, CPF funds of $40,700 and borrowed $245,300 from Credit POSB in order to finance the said purchase. In addition to these payments, he also borrowed $50,000 from his then employers (SAF) to pay for the renovations. While the wife alleged that she had spent $6,000 as renovations in 1989, I find this hard to believe as no documentary evidence was adduced by her. Furthermore, since the wife said that she borrowed this sum from her mother, she could have easily obtained an affidavit from her mother to support her claim. In any event, the amount even if true, is insignificant and negligible compared to his contributions.

8. The wife therefore did not make any financial contribution towards the purchase of the matrimonial home. The husband paid for all the loans that were taken out in order to purchase the property. With regard to the loan from Credit POSB, he had been using his monthly CPF contributions towards redeeming the outstanding mortgage. Prior to the sale, he had also been making payments to his mother in settlement of the loan amounting to $13,500 and the balance of $336,500 was paid up in one sum only after the completion of the sale. In this regard, it is pertinent that although the wife had jointly with the husband executed a deed acknowledging the debt to his mother and agreed to settle it in monthly instalments, she did not make any effort to settle the debt and only the husband had made some payments to his mother. It was therefore clear that the wife regarded it as the husband’s sole responsibility to pay for the matrimonial home.

9. While the wife could not deny that there was no direct financial contributions on her part, she naturally made the argument that she was entitled to a share of the sale proceeds because of her indirect contributions. This was a marriage which lasted for about 13 years. However, in terms of being husband and wife, they separated in April, 1994, some 9 years after they lived together.

10. The wife said that throughout the marriage she had played a significant role as the primary caregiver of the 2 children and as a homemaker and as such had made substantial contributions towards the welfare of the family. It was agreed between her and the husband that she would stay home to devote her time and energies in looking after the children. She also did all the usual household chores like cleaning, cooking, marketing, sending the children to school etc. However, a maid was employed to assist her with the household chores and to do the gardening. The wife also added that she had contributed towards the household expenses as well as that of the children and bought furniture, fittings for the matrimonial home. She therefore submitted that based on her substantial contributions made towards the welfare of the family, the entire sum of $771,355.89 should be given to her as her share of the matrimonial assets and as lump sum maintenance for herself.

11. The husband, to his credit, agreed that the wife should be entitled to a portion of the nett proceeds of sale. He was prepared, according to him, after taking into account the needs of the 2 children and with a view to...

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