Peh Chui Choo v Kuah Peng Ah

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeG P Selvam J
Judgment Date12 July 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGHC 138
Citation[2000] SGHC 138
Defendant CounselSerene Chan (Tan Lee & Choo)
Plaintiff CounselChua Swee Keng (Chua Swee Keng & Co)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberDivorce Petition No 3160 of 1995
Date12 July 2000
Subject MatterFamily Law,Husband divesting assets and unable to pay,Maintenance,Application by husband for downward variation of order,Whether downward variation should be granted,Wife and children

: This is an application for a downward variation of a maintenance order. The applicant is the husband/respondent. The order was first made by the Subordinate Court in Maintenance Order No 119/96. The amount was $2,800. This order was continued by Lai Siu Chiu J in DP 3160/95. The order was in favour of the petitioner/wife and two younger sons of the marriage. The mother was given custody of the two boys. There were two older twin boys. The husband was given custody of the twins. The husband seeks a reduction of almost 80%, that is from $2,800 to a mere $600.

From February this year, he reduced the payment of maintenance by $2,300.
The petitioner has taken out enforcement proceedings. They are pending in the subordinate courts.

The parties were married in 1977.
By 1993, the respondent had fathered four sons. By that year he had acquired a girl friend whom he later married. That marriage, too, is on the rocks. Before the petition was filed, he ignored his responsibilities to the family in that he failed to provide maintenance for his wife and four children. This impelled the wife to take out a maintenance summons in November 1995. She also filed a divorce petition seeking dissolution of the marriage. The ground she relied on was the husband`s irresponsible behaviour.

In the event, in March 1996 a decree nisi was pronounced.
Ancillary matters were adjourned to chambers. In October 1996, orders were made on ancillary issues. By then the wife had obtained an order for maintenance in the subordinate courts. The ancillary orders gave the wife custody of the two younger sons. Maintenance in the sum of $2,800 for the wife and two younger sons was continued. The respondent was given custody of the twins. There was a financial adjustment in respect of the matrimonial home: No 830 Mountbatten Road. The matrimonial home was sold in October 1997 for $1,710,000. After deducting what was due to the bank, some $22,000 in respect of commission, legal charges and other incidentals the petitioner received about $420,000. The respondent, however, received some $700,000. About $233,000 out of that amount was refunded to his CPF account. Being interested to what he did with that money, I expected to find the answer in his bank statements but without avail.

I now turn to a very important matter.
The respondent at the time of divorce was a substantial shareholder and director of a family company - Bok Soon Hardware Engineering Pte Ltd. The documents placed before me showed that in November 1998 he transferred 1,693 shares in Bok Soon Hardware to his brother. The consideration stated in the transfer form was $186,230. That was at $110 per share. I noticed that the stamp duty paid on that lot was $5,945.60. It was patent that the consideration stated in the transfer form was not a genuine representation of the value of the shares. I therefore asked for the company secretary to attend before the court. The company secretary did so. He tendered evidence and established that the net asset value of the shares was $1,755.89 per share. On that basis the true value of the shares was $2,972,721.77.

I further asked for the respondent`s sister to attend before the court and provide information.
She did so. According to her, the respondent`s father was unhappy about the divorce. In consequence he wanted the shares to be transferred and the respondent did so. The respondent gave them free. However, it was their intention not to leave the respondent with nothing. So goods were given to him in return.

The documents before the court showed that the respondent in July 1998 set up a company called Bok Soon Metal (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
The object of this company was to do the same business as Bok Soon Hardware. After Bok Soon Metal was set up, it received goods with invoice value of over $850,000. The invoices were addressed to the respondent and Bok Soon Metal. Bok Soon Metal has not paid for the goods. Further, in the accounts of Bok Soon Metal for the year ending 30 September 1999, the respondent was owed $740,141 by his company. This was in respect of the goods supplied by Bok Soon Hardware. The respondent receives goods without having to pay for them.

Before I consider the application of the respondent, one other factor must be mentioned.
In February 1999 he married the woman who came into his life before the divorce contributing to the breakup of the marriage with the petitioner.

Now I turn to the application before me.
It was filed on 16 December 1999 seeking reduction of the maintenance from $2,800 to a mere $600 for three souls. The application was premised on the following assertions: he was forced to divest his shares in Bok Soon Hardware. The consideration of $186,280 stated in the transfer form was not given to him in cash but in the form of goods. His company, Bok Soon Metal, was insolvent. His free assets which excluded the HDB flat, the moneys in CPF and the money owed by Bok Soon Metal were worth very little. He then gave expression to his grief by these wailing words: `As my take-home pay is only $1,758, there is no way for me to pay maintenance to the petitioner in the sum of $2,800. For the past months, I have been digging into my savings to pay the petitioner as well as borrowing from banks and my present wife. In order to help me, my present wife has been lending one part of her salary and even had to pawn her jewellery to help me. My savings are now depleted and I cannot keep borrowing.`

It should be remembered that the petitioner in November 1995 filed a complaint against the respondent for failing to maintain the petitioner and the two younger children of the marriage.
The maintenance sum of $2,800 was originally determined by the court after a long fray and by agreement was continued by the divorce court. It...

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5 cases
  • TIA v TIB
    • Singapore
    • Family Court (Singapore)
    • 30 October 2015
    ...(Toh Eng Foong v Chew Cheng Moi, Divorce Petition No. 2181 of 1997, District Court (unreported), and Peh Chui Choo v Kuah Peng Ah [2000] 4 SLR 110). Further, it should be emphasised that the change relied upon by the applicant must be an event or circumstances that is new and which occurred......
  • TJP v TJQ
    • Singapore
    • Family Court (Singapore)
    • 20 November 2015
    ...(Toh Eng Foong v Chew Cheng Moi, Divorce Petition No. 2181 of 1997, District Court (unreported), and Peh Chui Choo v Kuah Peng Ah [2000] 4 SLR 110). Further, it should be emphasised that the change relied upon by the applicant must be an event or circumstances that is new and which occurred......
  • Chia Puay Hoong v Ng Hoon Teik
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 8 March 2002 the Court in this regard (on "adverse inferences see Yow Mee Lan v Chen Kai Buan [2000] 4 SLR 466 and Peh Chui Choo v Kuah Peng Ah [2000] 4 SLR 110. She claimed to be earning $2 346 per month after deducting costs and expenses needed to run her property agency business (CPH-5 of C1, a le......
  • TEQ v TER
    • Singapore
    • Family Court (Singapore)
    • 14 September 2015
    ...appeal [2014] 4 SLR 559 at paragraph 23. 2 [1989] 1 SLR(R) 426. 3 Divorce Petition No 2181 of 1997, District Court (unreported) 4 [2000] 4 SLR 110. 5 Page 10 of Wife’s Bundle of Documents (marked 6 Prasenjit K Basu v Viniti Vaish (m.w.) [2003] SGDC 303 at paragraph 34. 7 Ibid, at paragraph ......
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