JudgeYarni Loi
Judgment Date20 April 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 39
CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberDivorce No. 1063 of 2013, HCF/DCA 10 of 2015
Published date30 June 2015
Hearing Date06 January 2015,21 January 2015
Plaintiff CounselMs Low Wee Jee (Lee Bon Leong & Co.)
Defendant CounselMr Roy Yeo (Sterling Law Corporation)
Subject MatterCatch words: Family Law - Ancillaries,Division of assets,Maintenance,Care and Control,Access
Citation[2015] SGFC 39
District Judge Yarni Loi: Introduction

This is my judgment in respect of ancillary orders made in these divorce proceedings between the Plaintiff-wife and Defendant-husband who married on 1 April 2000. Interim Judgment for divorce was granted on 2 September 2013 (on the basis of the Defendant’s unreasonable behaviour) after 13 years of marriage. The Plaintiff is about 36 years of age and the Defendant is 39. They have two young daughters, aged 8 and 5 respectively (collectively, “the Children”).

A brief summary of the orders I made at the hearing of ancillary matters is as follows: In full and final settlement of the division for assets and Plaintiff’s claim for maintenance, the matrimonial flat situated at xxx (“the Matrimonial Flat”) shall be sold in the open market within 6 months of the date of the Final Judgment. Upon sale of the matrimonial flat, the net sale proceeds, after repayment of the outstanding loan and after deducting the costs and expenses of the sale and agent’s commission, shall be divided in the proportion 71% to the Plaintiff and 29% to the Defendant. From their share of the sale proceeds, parties shall refund to their CPF accounts the monies utilised for the purchase of the flat and accrued interest. Parties shall have joint custody of the children with care and control to the Plaintiff and access to the Defendant on the terms ordered. The Defendant shall pay the Plaintiff a monthly sum of $800 for the maintenance of the children with effect from 1 February 2015 and thereafter on the 1st day of each month. (collectively, the “AM Orders”).

The Defendant has appealed against my decision and I now set out my full reasons.

Brief background facts

The Defendant is a xxx who earns between $1,800 to $2,000 per month. The Plaintiff is a xxx who runs her own hair salon. She earns about $3,000 (gross) and $2,862 (net) per month.

According to the Plaintiff, sometime in or around 2009, the Defendant became a habitual drinker. As a result of his drinking problems and refusal to seek help, she left the Matrimonial Flat in late 2009 together with the children. They went to stay with her parents. Subsequently, she was persuaded to return home together with the children. However, in or around October 2012, the Plaintiff suspected the Defendant of having an affair. In or around February 2013, the Plaintiff moved out of the Matrimonial Flat together with the children and moved in with her parents. The Defendant continues to live in the Matrimonial Flat.

Division of assets – the legal principles

Under section 112(1) of the Women’s Charter, the Court has the power to order a division or sale of matrimonial assets as the court thinks just and equitable. Section 112(2) provides that it is the duty of the court to have regard to all the circumstances of the case including the extent of the contributions made by the parties towards acquiring, improving or maintaining the asset; any debt owed or obligation incurred by either party for the joint benefit or for the benefit of any child of the marriage; the needs of the children; the extent of contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family; any agreement between the parties with respect to the ownership and division of the matrimonial assets; any period of rent-free occupation or other benefit enjoyed by one party in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party; and the giving of assistance or support by one party to the other party which aids the other party in the carrying on of his occupation or business.

In exercising its powers, the court is to adopt a broad-brush approach and “it is essential that courts resist the temptation to lapse into a minute scrutiny of the conduct and efforts of both spouses” (NK v NL [2007] 3 SLR (R) 743). In ZO v ZP [2011] 3 SLR 647, the Court of Appeal further emphasized that direct and indirect contributions are to be given due weight and no single factor is determinative of the outcome. The court is also not expected to make an exact calculation of each spouse’s contribution, whether financial or non-financial; and the exercise is to be done “based on feel and the court’s sense of justice in arriving at a just and equitable division.” (Yeo Chong Lin v Tay Ang Choo Nancy [2011] 2 SLR 1157.)

A structured approach is not inconsistent with the broad-brush approach and in ATT v ATS [2012] 2 SLR 859 at [15], the Court of Appeal summarised the steps that a court should take when ordering a division. These steps have been usefully summarised by the High Court in ARL v ARM [2015] SGHC 61 at [12], as follows: first, delineate what exactly constitutes the pool of matrimonial assets; second, assess the value of the pool so that the court’s deliberation can be made with reference to a working quantum; third, consider all the circumstances of the case, including but not limited to the factors listed in s 112(2) of the WC, particularly the direct financial contributions as well as the indirect financial contributions of each party, and thereby determine what is the just and equitable proportion; and finally, ascertain the most expedient means of executing the division in that proportion.

I turn now to the facts of the present case.

Matrimonial Pool

By the time ancillaries came on for hearing before me, the total pool of matrimonial assets had a combined net value of approximately $534,858, with the following breakdown:

No. Description Value (S$)
Matrimonial Flat
1 Net value of Matrimonial Flat 410,000 (Agreed value) -72,634.80 (Agreed outstanding loan) =337,365.12
Assets in Plaintiff’s name
2 CPF 67,481.93
3 Bank Accounts 1,911.39
4 Insurance Policies 6,623.64
Sub-total 76,016.96
Assets (disclosed) in Defendant’s name
5 CPF 50,474.46
6 Bank Accounts 814.67
7 Motorcycles 17,837
8 Insurance Policies 52,350
Sub-total 121,476
Total 534,858

Apart from the assets described above, I agree with the Plaintiff that the Defendant has not been full and frank in his disclosure. In flagrant breach of a Court Order dated 15 May 2014, he refused and failed to give discovery of the bank statements and balances in his xxx Savings Account, as well as a xxx Account No. xxx (“Undisclosed Account”). In fact, the Plaintiff discovered the Undisclosed Account fortuitously. On 31 October 2014, when she returned to the Matrimonial Flat, she happened to chance upon the Defendant’s xxx Bank transaction receipt dated 16 October 2014 showing a funds transfer from a bank account which the Defendant had disclosed (namely, xxx Savings Account xxx) to the Undisclosed Account.

In the circumstances, I am satisfied that an adverse inference against the Defendant should be drawn as the Defendant has not been forthcoming in making full and frank disclosure with regards to his bank accounts.

Direct contributions

Towards the Matrimonial Flat, I assess the Plaintiff’s contributions to be about 53.2% and the Defendant’s contributions about 46.8%. The calculation is as follows:

Description Plaintiff Defendant
CPF – Principal 50,526.27 42,114.33
Renovations 19,158.68 19,158.68
Total 69,684.95 (53.2%) 61,273.01 (46.8%)

Towards the entire total pool, the Plaintiff’s direct financial contributions were about 48%, while the Defendant’s contributions were around 52%, with the calculation as follows:

Description Plaintiff Defendant
Matrimonial Flat 53.2% of net value = 179,478.18 46.8% of net value = 157,886.82
Other assets 76,016.96 121,476
Total 255,495.14 (48%) 279,362.82 (52%)
Indirect contributions

The Plaintiff, who worked throughout the marriage, made both financial and non-financial indirect contributions. She contributed equally to parties’ joint bank account; and the monies were used to pay household expenses, children’s expenses (including their childcare fees and after-school student care fees) and other family needs. When the children were born, the Defendant did not pay for any of the check-ups and hospitalization fees. He told her that she had to pay such costs herself. When the Defendant was jobless for a few months, she paid for all the household expenses and did not ask him for reimbursement. On top of that, she gave him pocket money and paid for his motorcycle instalments. Apart from helping him out financially, she also took care of the Defendant and shopped for his clothes, undies, socks, and washed and ironed his laundry.

The Plaintiff also performed household chores, such as cleaning, cooking and ironing. As they did not have a maid, she had to juggle her career and housework - she did the housework every alternate day and ironing once a week. The Plaintiff was also the main-caregiver of the children, with the help of her own mother. The Plaintiff would get the children ready for school in the morning before going to work. After school, the Plaintiff’s mother would fetch the children back to her own home and feed them and shower them. When the Plaintiff finished work, she would pick the children from her mother’s place and bring them home with her. Upon reaching home, she would prepare milk for the children before putting them to sleep. On her off days, she took care of the children herself and would usually cook for the Defendant and the children. When the children fell sick, she brought them to the doctor and cared for them. Once, when their younger daughter was hospitalised for a few days for a stomach infection, she stayed in the hospital to take care of her whilst the Defendant would only visit for a short while very day.


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