CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeSuzanne Chin
Judgment Date30 April 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 50
Citation[2015] SGFC 50
Docket NumberDivorce Court Petition No. 5925 of 2013
Hearing Date23 October 2014,18 December 2014,07 January 2015
Plaintiff CounselMr Yeo Soon Keong (Quahe Woo & Palmer LLC)
Defendant CounselMr Ong Meng Hwa William (Alpha Law LLC)
Subject MatterCatch Words: Divorce Ancillary Matters Division of Matrimonial Assets Care and Control Access Maintenance of Child
Published date03 June 2015
District Judge Suzanne Chin: Introduction

This was the plaintiff husband’s (“Husband”) appeal against my orders on the division of matrimonial property, care and control of and access to the 2 children to the marriage and maintenance for the children.


The parties were married on 26 January 2005 and there are 2 sons from the marriage, aged 9 and 4. The Husband was at the time of the hearing 50 years old and worked as a xx in a xxx company. The defendant wife (“the Wife”) was 37 years old and works as a xxx.

The Husband filed for divorce on the 5 September 2013 after 8 years of marriage to the Wife on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour of the Wife. The Wife filed a defence and counterclaim pleading that the Husband had behaved in such a way that she cannot reasonably be expected to live with him. Interim Judgement was granted on 19th May 2014 on the basis that both the claim and counterclaim and the ancillary matters fell to be determined at a hearing before me.

Orders relating to the division of matrimonial property, custody, care and control of and access to the 2 children of the marriage and maintenance for the wife and children were made as follows: Custody, care and control and access By consent there shall be joint custody of H and S. Care and control H and S shall be granted to the Defendant with reasonable access to the Plaintiff. Division of matrimonial property In full and final settlement of all issues relating to the division of property, that the Plaintiff shall retain right, title and interest in the matrimonial property known as and situated at xxx provided that, within three (3) months from the date of Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final, the Plaintiff shall pay to the Defendant a sum of $83,500. The Defendant and the children shall be allowed to remain at the matrimonial flat for 6 months from the date of Final Judgement. If the Plaintiff does not pay to the Defendant the sum of $83,500 within three (3) months of the date of the Final Judgement, then the matrimonial flat situated at xxx shall be sold on the open market within nine (9) months of the date of Final Judgement and the net sale proceeds, after repayment of the outstanding mortgage and interest, costs and expenses relating to the sale including agent’s commission, shall be divided in the proportion of 72% to the Plaintiff and 28% to the Defendant. From their shares of the sale proceeds, where relevant, the parties shall refund to their respective CPF accounts, all monies utilized for the purchase of the matrimonial flat together with accrued interest. There shall be joint conduct of sale of the matrimonial flat. The Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Family Justice Courts shall be empowered to execute and sign all necessary documents relating to matters contained in this order on behalf of either party should either party fail to do so within seven (7) days of written request being made to the party. Each party shall retain his or her own assets that are in their respective sole names. Maintenance of Wife and children The Defendant shall provide a monthly maintenance of $550 for each of the children of the marriage and the said sum shall be remitted to the Defendant’s Bank account on the first day of every month from the 1 November 2014. The Defendant shall provide a nominal monthly maintenance of $1.00 to the Plaintiff. Liberty to apply.

The Husband being dissatisfied with my decision filed a notice of appeal on 13 March 2015 2014 against the orders relating to the care and control of and access to the children, division of the matrimonial home and maintenance for the children. I now set forth the reasons for my decision.

Care and Control and Access

Both parties sought care and control of the 2 children. The Wife submitted that she had been the main caregiver of the 2 children since they were born with assistance from her mother from 2011. She saw to their needs attending school activities and taking them to the doctor. It was her position that if care and control of the children were granted to her, she would continue with the current arrangements and her mother would continue to help take care of the children while she was at work.

The Husband challenged the Wife’s position and also sought care and control of the children. While he admitted that his working hours were longer than those of the Wife and he had less time to take care of the children, he claimed to take the children out whenever he had time. It was his position that if he were to be granted care and control of the children, he would employ a full time maid to take care of the children as his mother had recently passed away so he had no immediate family who could help take care of the children. He also argued that if care and control were to be granted to him, the children would have a roof over their heads as he had the matrimonial flat while it was unlikely that the Wife would ever be able to purchase a flat.

Section 3 of the Guardianship of Infants Act (Cap 122) states that:

“Where in any proceedings before any court, the custody or upbringing of an infant or administration of any property belonging to or held in trust for an infant or the application of the income thereof is in question, the court, in deciding that question, shall regard the welfare of the infant as the first and paramount consideration and save insofar as such welfare otherwise requires, the father of an infant shall not be deemed to have any right superior to that of the mother in respect of such custody, administration or application nor shall the mother be deemed to have any claim superior to that of the father.”

In the case of Soon Peck Wah v Woon Che Chye [1997] 3 SLR (R) 430 the Court of Appeal stated that the guiding principle in proceedings before any court with regards to the custody or upbringing of a child was that the welfare of the child was the first and paramount consideration. The Court cited Rayden and Jackson’s Law and Practice in Divorce and Family Matters (Butterworths, 16th Ed, 1991) as follows:

“The word ‘welfare’ must be taken in its widest sense. It has been said that the welfare of the child is not to be measured by money only nor by physical comfort only; the moral and religious welfare of the child must be considered as well as his physical well-being; nor can the ties of affection be disregarded. The rights and wishes of parents must be assessed and weighed in their bearing on the welfare of the child in conjunction with all other factors relative to that issue. The question before the judge is not what the essential justice of the case requires but what the best interests of the child required.”

When a marriage breaks down, it is always difficult and disruptive for the children of the marriage. The court’s goal is to consider in the backdrop of this fracture, what would be the best arrangement for the children. I accepted that the Wife had been the children’s main caregiver through the years and as the children are relatively young, I was of the view that it would be in their best interests to continue to live with their mother. While the Wife is working, they will have their maternal grandmother to turn to and this is an arrangement that has been in place in recent years. I am of the view that this option would provide the children with continuity and stability in their lives and would be less disruptive to them than adjusting to a newly hired maid who...

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