CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeYarni Loi
Judgment Date24 February 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 17
Citation[2015] SGFC 17
Published date01 April 2015
Hearing Date16 January 2015,25 November 2014
Docket NumberDivorce No. 3007 of 2013, HCF/DCA 5/2015
Plaintiff CounselMr Richard Sam (M/s Sam & Associates)
Defendant CounselMr R. Shiever/ Mr Ho Thiam Huat (M/s John Tay & Co)
Subject MatterCatchwords: Family Law,Ancillaries,Maintenance - former wife
District Judge Yarni Loi : Introduction

This judgment deals with ancillary matters flowing from divorce proceedings between the Plaintiff-wife and Defendant-husband.

By consent, parties agreed to split custody of their children, with the Plaintiff having custody, care and control of their 12 year old daughter and the Defendant having custody, care and control of their 14 year old son; with reasonable access to the non-custodial parent. The Defendant also agreed to be fully responsible for the maintenance of their son in his custody. Parties were however unable to agree on the remaining issues involving division of assets and maintenance to be paid by the Defendant to the Plaintiff for herself and their daughter. On 13 January 2015, I ordered that: the matrimonial flat, comprising a 5-room HDB flat at xxx (“Matrimonial Flat”), be sold and divided in the proportion 44% to the Plaintiff and 56% to the Defendant, with parties to retain the assets in their respective sole names. the Defendant shall pay the Plaintiff a monthly sum of $850 for the maintenance of their daughter, as well as 60% of her school excursion trips, overseas trips and enrichment courses; and the Defendant shall pay the Plaintiff nominal maintenance of $1 per month commencing with effect from 1 February 2015 (“Nominal Maintenance Order”). (collectively, “the AM Orders”).

It is only against the Nominal Maintenance Order that the Plaintiff has filed her Notice of Appeal, and in respect of which I now set out my full reasons.


The Plaintiff is 36 and the Defendant is 39. They married on 17 July 1998 and at the time when Interim Judgment was obtained on 11 September 2013, had been married for about 15 years. Their son is 15 and their daughter is 12. Their son has a medical hearing condition known as Central Auditory Processing disorder. Further, sometime in or around 2005, he was diagnosed with speech and language developmental delay and over the years, has had to undergo various therapy sessions and consultations.

The Defendant is a xxx with xxx. Prior to that, he was xxx with the xxx of the xxx where he was employed for about 14 years until 21 May 2012 when he joined XXX.

The Plaintiff is an xxx working at XXX. When they got married, the Plaintiff was working as a xxx in a bank. She resigned sometime in February 1999 after she became pregnant with their son who was born in November 1999. She resumed full-time work as an xxx with the XXX from November 2000 until September 2002. After the birth of their daughter in August 2002, she converted to part-time work. She subsequently became a full time housewife from December 2003 to December 2009. She then resumed part-time work at a supermarket for several months from January 2010 to April 2010. Since September 2010, she has been working at XXX.

During the marriage, the Defendant was, for the large part, the main breadwinner and the family relied on his income to pay for household expenses, furniture and home improvements. The Plaintiff on the other hand performed most of the household chores. She was also the main care-giver for the children, especially in their early years.

Parties used to operate a joint bank account into which the Defendant’s salary was credited. However, the Defendant closed this account on or about 3 April 2012. According to the Defendant, he asked the Plaintiff to contribute to the family’s expenses to ease the financial burden on him since she was gainfully employed and had a stable job at that time, but she refused. Hence, he decided to close the said account.

Thereafter, in or around May 2012, the Plaintiff filed an application against the Defendant for maintenance in MSS 1847 of 2012 (“the MSS Application”). Parties eventually entered into a Consent Maintenance Order (“Consent MO”) under which the Defendant agreed to pay the Plaintiff, with effect from 28 June 2012, the following sums: the sum of $1,700 per month: $725 for their son; $725 for their daughter (inclusive of $230 student care fee per month); and $250 for the Plaintiff; 2/3rds of the cost of therapy sessions for the son; 100% of the home telephone bills, internet bills, utilities, S&C charges, property tax and cable bills; and 80% of the school/ student care excursion trips, overseas trips and enrichment courses.

In the meantime, in or around July/August 2013, the Plaintiff lodged a police report against their son, allegedly because he had stolen monies from her. The Plaintiff asserts that their son started stealing from her since 2008. As she was unable to teach her son that theft was wrong, she resorted to caning him which the Defendant was not in agreement with. Matters came to a head in or around 2013 when she finally reported him to the police for theft. The police issued the boy with a stern warning in lieu of prosecution, and placed him under the Youth Guidance Program at a Family Service Centre for a period of 6 months.

It is apparent that the Plaintiff has difficulty taking care of their son. According to the Defendant, there is conflict between mother and son and the Plaintiff has always been averse to their son. To avoid further conflict, father and son eventually left the Matrimonial Flat on 23 February 2014; and they now reside with the Defendant’s aunt. While the Plaintiff denies that there is any conflict over their son, it is undisputed that the Defendant and their son did leave the Matrimonial Flat in February 2014. By consent, parties now have split custody of the children which, as the Defendant observes, is neither the norm nor ideal.

Meanwhile in or around June 2013, the Plaintiff commenced these divorce proceedings against the Defendant and Interim Judgment was obtained on 11 September 2013. When the ancillary matters eventually came on for hearing before me, I assessed that the matrimonial asset pool has a total value of about $659,732 comprising: (a) net value of the Matrimonial Flat of about $343,868; (b) assets in Plaintiff’s name totalling about $98,563; and (c) assets in Defendant’s name totalling about $217,301.

After carefully considering all the circumstances of the case, including parties’ direct and indirect contributions, I decided it would be fair and equitable that the tool pool of assets be divided in the proportion 38% to the Plaintiff and 62% to the Defendant. This would translate to 44% of the net sale proceeds of the Matrimonial Flat to the Plaintiff, who would also retain the assets in her sole name.

On the issue of maintenance, the Plaintiff sought monthly maintenance of $500 for herself and $925 for their daughter. She also sought 80% of the daughter’s school excursion trips, overseas trips and enrichment courses; and 100% of all home telephone bills, internet bills, utilities, S&C charges, property tax and cable bills. While the Defendant was prepared to contribute towards their daughter’s maintenance, he contended that there should be no maintenance for the Plaintiff.

In the event, I ordered that the Defendant pay $850 for the maintenance of their daughter (which includes the daughter’s share of reasonable household utilities and expenses) and 60% of their daughter’s school or student care excursion trips, overseas trips and enrichment courses.

I also considered it just and fair to make the Nominal Maintenance Order; and this is the order that the Plaintiff has appealed against.

The legal position on maintenance of a former wife

The court has the power to award maintenance in divorce proceedings pursuant to section 113 of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353, Revised Edition 2009). Section 114 further provides that in determining the amount of any maintenance to be paid by a man to his wife or former wife, the court shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case including the following matters:

114.- (1) In determining the amount of any maintenance to be paid by a man to his wife or former wife, the court shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case including the following matters: the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future; the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future; the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage; the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage; any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage; the contributions made by each of the parties to the marriage to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family; and in the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to either of the parties to the marriage of any benefit (for example, a pension) which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage that party will lose the chance of acquiring.

(2) In exercising its powers under this section, the court shall endeavour so to place the parties, so far as it is practicable and, having regard to their conduct, just to do so, in the financial position in which they would have been if the marriage had not broken down and each had properly discharged his or her financial obligations and responsibilities towards the other.

The Court of Appeal in Foo Ah Yan v Chiam Heng Chow [2012] SGCA 15 explained that section 114 of the Women's Charter sets out a non-exhaustive list of factors to be considered when ordering maintenance after the dissolution of the marriage and lays down the guiding principle of financial preservation which requires the wife to be maintained at a standard commensurate with the standard of living she had enjoyed during the marriage, to the extent that is reasonable. The CA made it clear...

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