JudgeLee Li Choon
Judgment Date10 April 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 32
CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberDivorce No. 4690 of 2013
Published date21 May 2015
Hearing Date28 January 2015,17 February 2015,26 November 2014
Plaintiff CounselP/C: Mr Gurdaib Singh s/o Pala Singh (Gurdaib, Cheong & Partners)
Defendant CounselD/C: Ms Anuradha d/o Krishan Chand Sharma (Winchester Law LLC)
Subject MatterCatchwords: Family Law,division of matrimonial assets,Family Law,maintenance for wife,maintenance for child
Citation[2015] SGFC 32
District Judge Lee Li Choon: Introduction

This is an appeal against my decision given on 17 February 2015 on ancillary matters subsequent to a divorce. The Plaintiff-husband and the Defendant-wife were married in Singapore on 25 February 1989. There are 2 children of the marriage: the elder son is already a 22-year old adult and the younger boy is still a minor at 16 years old. The husband filed his writ of divorce on 20 September 2013 based on the ground that the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of 4 years preceding the writ for divorce. Interim Judgment pronouncing the dissolution of the marriage on the ground filed by the husband was granted on 21 January 2014.

The order that I gave on ancillary matters is as follows:

1. The matrimonial flat situated at (address) shall be sold in the open market within 6 months of the Final Judgment and the sale proceeds shall be utilised towards the repayment of the outstanding loan, a full refund to both parties’ CPF accounts, CPF monies utilised towards the acquisition of the said flat including accrued interest as well as payment towards costs and expenses of sale. Thereafter, the net sale proceeds shall be paid to the Defendant. In addition, the Plaintiff shall transfer the amount of $30K from his CPF account to the Defendant’s CPF account.

2. The Defendant is given the first option to buy over the Plaintiff’s share in the matrimonial flat. The Defendant shall give a written notice to the Plaintiff within 2 months of the Final Judgment of her intention to exercise this option, if she intends to do so. If the Defendant chose to exercise this option, the Plaintiff shall transfer his share, title and interests in the said matrimonial flat to the Defendant in consideration for a partial refund of $119,000 into the Plaintiff’s CPF account by the Defendant.

3. The Registrar of the Family Justice Courts under section 31 of the Family Justice Act is empowered to execute, sign or indorse all necessary documents relating to matters contained in this Order on behalf of either party failing to do so within 7 days of written request being made to the party.

4. There shall be no maintenance for the Defendant.

5. Both parties shall have joint custody with care and control of the younger son to the Defendant. The Plaintiff shall have reasonable access which is to be arranged directly between the Plaintiff and the younger son.

6. The Plaintiff shall pay to the Defendant a monthly maintenance of $400 per month as maintenance for the younger son on the 1st day of each month with effect from 1 March 2015. In addition, the Plaintiff shall solely pay for the balance of the tertiary school fees for the younger son that is not supported by any financial assistance scheme.

7. The Plaintiff shall bear half of the older son’s hospitalisation expenses which may be paid out of his Medisave account. For the cash component of such expenses, the Plaintiff shall pay to the Defendant within 7 days of production of receipt or invoice.

8. The Plaintiff shall sign the Deed of Release pertaining to the insurance policies taken out by the Defendant to change the beneficiary to the two sons. The Registrar of the Family Justice Courts shall be empowered to sign all necessary documents to effect this change in the event that the Plaintiff fails to do so after 7 days’ written notice to the Plaintiff.

9. No order as to costs.

My Decision

This is a marriage of 25 years up to the Interim Judgment. As the ground for the divorce was based on separation of at least 4 years, it is a marriage that lasted about 21 years or so prior to the parties’ separation.

Both parties gave a rather sketchy account of the family’s circumstances in the course of the marriage. It would appear that the parties lived at the husband’s sister’s home together with the husband’s brother’s family when the children were younger till they moved out in 1995 to their present matrimonial home. The wife appeared to have been working throughout the marriage. The children were looked after by the husband’s sister until the family moved out to their own home in 1995.

However, what is clear about the parties’ present circumstances is that both are earning an income of less than $2000 each. The adult son suffers from a severe skin condition called Hidradenitis. In June 2013, he was admitted to hospital for a period of about 5 months. The wife gave some details concerning his care needs in her first affidavit for ancillary relief. As this is not disputed by the husband, I will take the wife’s affidavit on the face of it and accept that the medical condition of the adult son is a disabling one that deteriorates over time as there was allusion to him needing physical assistance for bathing and use of the toilet. At the hearing, I was informed by the wife’s counsel that he had become completely bedridden.

On just and equitable division of matrimonial assets

I will first deal with the issue of the division of matrimonial assets. Parties’ main assets comprise their 4-room HDB matrimonial flat at Circuit Road and their CPF monies. Parties have insurance policies but they are mainly life insurance policies with only a surrender value upon surrender, except for one endowment policy in the joint names of the husband and the adult son with a surrender value of $6,547.50 as at February 2014. As such, for the purposes of the division of matrimonial assets, I will not divide the insurance policies based on their surrender value. On their CPF monies, the wife has a little more than the husband (the wife has a total of $75,464.53 and the husband has a total of $64,193.54). As their CPF monies are not far apart in quantum, I will also not divide their CPF monies. In the main, I will focus on the main asset which is the parties’ HDB flat. Counsel for the wife provided the estimated value of the HDB flat as $500,000. The husband in his affidavit has quantified the estimated value to be $390,000. As no supporting evidence has been filed to enable me to pick one party’s value over the other’s, for the purpose of determining a just and equitable value, I have decided to use the estimated value provided by the wife. There was an outstanding loan of $25,525.71 as at August 2014. It would appear that the ongoing servicing of the mortgage loan came mainly from the husband’s CPF monies at $463 a month.

Section 112(1) of the Women’s Charter states that the Court shall have power, when granting or subsequent to the grant of a judgment of divorce to order the division between the parties of matrimonial asset or the sale of any such asset in such proportions as the court thinks just and equitable. The matters to be taken into consideration in arriving at a “just and equitable” division are in section 112(2) as well as those in section 114(1) in so far as they are relevant.

Parties’ financial resources

Of the factors in section 114(1), 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; and the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future are also relevant for consideration (see s114(1)(a) and (b)).

On financial resources, the...

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