Sheila Mukhtar Kaur v Shan@Sohanlal Giri s/o Piyarelal

CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeShobha G. Nair
Judgment Date14 January 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 7
Citation[2015] SGFC 7
Publication Date20 January 2015
Docket NumberD3784/2012
Plaintiff CounselMs Jinny Tan (M/s Wee, Tay & Lim LLP)
Defendant CounselMr Naidu Devadas (M/s Metropolitan Law Corporation)
SubjectFamily Law,long marriage - sole custody of teenage child,division of matrimonial assets- lack of frank disclosure- maintenance for spouse and children
District Judge Shobha G Nair:

This is an appeal filed by the defendant (husband) against all orders on ancillary matters to the divorce suit instituted by the plaintiff (wife). For ease of reference, the orders are reproduced below: The wife shall have sole custody, care and control of the son of the marriage with reasonable access to the husband/father. The husband shall be at liberty to arrange for access which may include overnight access directly with his son. The husband shall transfer/sell his interest, title and rights in the matrimonial home at Block 233 Simei Street 4 #04-158 Singapore to the wife without any consideration. This shall take place within 3 months of this Order. The Registrar of the Family Justice Courts shall be empowered to sign on all documents to effect such a sale/transfer in the event the husband refuses to do so. All other assets in the sole names of parties shall be retained in the names of the respective parties. All maintenance obligations under the subsisting orders shall cease upon the transfer of the matrimonial home to the sole name of the wife save that the polytechnic fees of both children shall be paid by the defendant until such time the children obtain their diplomas. All arrears in maintenance shall be paid by 15th November 2014. The NTUC Education Policy bearing no: 64800961 in the husband’s name shall be transferred to the daughter. The beneficiary of the plaintiff’s AIA Insurance Policy bearing no: 514096377 shall be changed from the husband to the children, Sharmane and Devinn.

Facts

Parties were married for about 24 years prior to the wife filing for divorce on the unreasonable behaviour of the husband. They have a daughter who had just turned 21 years of age at the time of the hearing and a son who is 18 years of age. Both were pursuing diplomas at local polytechnics and hope to pursue degree courses or in the son’s case, training to pilot commercial aircraft. An interim judgment granting the divorce writ was issued in July 2013.

The couple purchased their matrimonial flat at Block 233 Simei Street 4 #04-158 in 1989 (Simei flat). The couple subsequently rented a terrace house at Upper Changi Road (Upper Changi house) and leased the Simei home to tenants at $3 000 per month.1 The rental income from the Simei home was kept by the husband. It was the husband’s contention that the original intention was to use the rent from the Simei flat to offset the higher rent for the Upper Changi house.

There were difficulties between the wife and husband which included violent exchanges which eventually led the wife and children to move out of the Upper Changi house in March 2013 and into another rented condominium. At the time of the hearing however, I was given to understand that she and the children were living at the husband’s brother’s family home.

The husband sub-let the Upper Changi home for $2 100 per month. This was revealed only after the wife alleged that he was not forthright with information to the Court. The rental income from the sub-lease was also kept by him.

Care and Control of the Children

As the daughter had turned 21 by the time the hearing took place, there was no need for any care orders to be made for her. The son, being 18 however, required an order to be in place although in my view he was in a position to articulate his own thoughts on care arrangements and may soon no longer have any need for formal orders with national service commitments around the corner. Regardless, the wife sought sole custody of the son while the husband sought a joint custody order and a split care and control arrangement.

The need for joint parenting is always respected by the Court save in clear cases where such an order would hinder decision-making in material ways and was not as a result of or in itself, in the best interests of the child.

The husband through his counsel requested that the Court speak to the son as the husband said he was confident the son would speak up for him, especially on how much he had contributed to his upbringing and was the parent who would be able to continue with such care.2 Although I did not desire that the children choose between parents, I granted the request. I was inclined to hear from them on the family dynamics and how best they thought the family would benefit if care were split between the parents. Although the daughter was 21, I felt that a proper understanding could only be garnered if I spoke to both and the fact that they were both still in school, made this prudent.

When the children attended before me, both expressed individually and at different times that their father had told them that their mother wanted them present and went on...

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