TDM v TDN

CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeSowaran Singh
Judgment Date05 June 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 77
Citation[2015] SGFC 77
Docket NumberDivorce Petition No.508 of 2013, SUM 983 of 2015
Publication Date15 August 2015
Plaintiff CounselMr. Alfred Dodwell/Ms. Chua Sihui, Dominique (M/s Dodwell & Co LLC)
Defendant CounselMs. Thian Wen Yi/Ms. Carrie Gill (Harry Elias Partnership LLP)
Subject"Family Law,ancillary proceedings,division of matrimonial assets."
District Judge Sowaran Singh: Background

The parties married in November 1991 in New York. The Plaintiff (wife/mother) was described1 as being a 50 year old architect (US citizen) and the Defendant (husband/father) as being a 55 year old architect (Singapore citizen) with both having tertiary qualifications. They have 2 daughters who are 19+and 15+ years old2. The wife filed for a divorce on the 29 January 2013 and subsequently the husband filed a Defence and Counterclaim. Interim Judgment (IJ) was granted on the 16 December 2013 on account of each other’s unreasonable behaviour. The ancillaries were adjourned to Chambers and were heard on the 15 May 2015. After hearing submissions the court rendered its decision on the same day. On the 29 May 2015 husband filed an appeal against a part of the court’s decision namely that the parties shall retain all their own assets. The court will deal with this issue.

It is also to be noted that in addition, SUM 983/2015 which had been filed on the 30 March 2015 by the wife was also heard together on the same day. This was an application by her to file a 5th affidavit for the reasons given in her supporting affidavit. At the hearing, the husband informed the court that he had no objections to the wife’s 5th affidavit3 being admitted by the court except for the issue of costs. Accordingly the court granted the wife’s application and accepted her 5th affidavit.

The Parties Positions in Brief 4

The wife owned a fully paid up property (the “home”) in her sole name which she had bought in February 2010 from monies which she said were received as a “gift’ from one Sxxx (S). She claimed that it was not a matrimonial asset and therefore, not liable for division as they had agreed to live separate lives in May 2009 and communicated solely for the sake of their children. The husband whilst agreeing that the wife paid for it solely claimed that he had helped in the renovations/decoration/payment of certain bills which were in his name5and that it was a matrimonial home as he too lived in it until November 2012 when he left the home. His position was that it was bought by the wife using her CPF funds and income earned whilst working with Sxxx Bxxx (SH). He pointed out that the wife’s position was inconsistent. Initially she claimed that she used her own income to purchase it. Subsequently she said it was from the cash gifts from S. She did not tender any proof of these gifts until she filed her 4th affidavit. He submitted that her claim that it was a gift was an afterthought. He asked for a fair division of the home. In his submissions he asked that their assets be divided equally6.

The parties had other assets as well which the husband asked to be divided fairly. The wife wanted that each party keep what they had in their own names. In his submissions he asked that their assets be divided equally7.On maintenance, the wife asked for a sum of $1,000 backdated to May 2009 as the husband had failed to maintain her since then. For their 2 children she wanted the husband to bear 50% of their monthly expenses of $17,000 as he had a well-paying job. The husband was prepared to offer a sum of $2,000 as maintenance for the children as he could only afford this sum. For the wife he proposed no maintenance as she was self-sufficient and in a vastly superior position that he was. According to him, the wife had also re-married a Mr Axxx Sxxx in New Zealand on the 20/21 December 2013.The parties were agreed on joint custody of the children with care and control to the wife and reasonable access to the husband. The husband wanted the access to be specified8.

The wife’s written submissions were marked as exhibit A, her bundle of authorities as A1 and her bundle of documents as A2. The husband’s written submissions were marked as exhibit B, his bundle of authorities as B1 and his bundle of documents as B2. The parties also tendered a table showing their assets (marked as exhibit T) and a summary of this table (marked as exhibit S).There were several other documents the parties tendered at the hearing and these were also duly marked.

The Table of the Parties Positions (exhibits T & S)

The parties submitted a table (marked as exhibit T) in which they summarised their respective positions on the major issues as well as a summary of this table (marked as exhibit S).

SUM 983/2015

The wife’s application in the above summons to be allowed to file a 5th affidavit was allowed after the husband informed the court that he had no objections to it. The proposed affidavit was attached to her affidavit filed in support of her application. A copy of her proposed affidavit had been made available to the husband on the 7 April 2015. This affidavit related to the following matters: - the bank transfer documents relating to the transfer of the various sums of money(total: $8,43 million) from S to her which had already been exhibited in her previous affidavit(at Tab 1) and the receipt of these sums into her own bank account(Tab 2). - documents to show the use of her CPF monies for the purchase of the home and the valuation report (Tabs 3 & 4) and the sums standing in her CPF accounts as at 13 February 2015 (Tab 17). - an email stating the value of her car which she had bought with the monies she received (Tab 5). - details of several bank accounts (including those not disclosed previously) with a total sum of $2,676,000 (Tabs 6 -Tab 10) as well as details of other bank accounts that were inactive/closed (Tabs 11- Tab 25). - an email showing the current value of her Axxx Club membership (Tab 16). - details of her “updated and accurate” personal expenses of $8,287.49 as the sums in her earlier affidavits “had been mistakenly inflated as the wrong figures were used in the calculation” (at pages 10-13). - details of their daughters’ “updated and accurate” expenses of $21,329 as the sums in her earlier affidavits were “similarly mistakenly inflated as the wrong figures were used in the relevant calculation” (at pages 13-18). She asked that the husband bear half of these expenses namely the sum of $10,600.She also exhibited the girl’s emails on the frequency of their meetings with the husband (Tab 24). - her position on the ancillary matters that is: no division of assets with each party retaining what they had; the husband to pay her $1,000 monthly as maintenance as well as $10,600 for their daughters with effect from May 2009; joint custody of the girls with care and control to her and liberal access to the husband at least beyond a 500 metres radius from the home.

The Parties Submissions in Brief Husband’s Submissions in Brief

In his written submissions the husband provided a chronology of the parties’ job history going back to the time when they got married in New York in 1991.They had relocated to Singapore permanently in 1995. In 1996 they opened a joint account from which the rent was paid. The home was purchased for $3,750,000 on the 25 February 2012 which was the completion date. The Option was exercised on the 22 January 2012. It was registered in the wife’s sole name and she paid for it fully9. He claimed that their arrangement was for him to pay fully for the “bulk of the family’s expenses over the years” while the wife would “save her income” thus enable her “to accumulate funds for the acquisition of the home10. He said that the sums from S were received by the wife into her DBS account No. 065-80214-x but the monies for the purchase of the home came from another of her DBS account No. 109-000275-x. The wife had not shown that the monies were transferred from one account into the other and in fact she had not exhibited any document for the earlier account at all. He submitted that the letter written by S dated 12 July 2010 was hearsay evidence as S had not affirmed any affidavit. It was clear he submitted that the monies received by the wife constituted income earned when she was working as an architect for SH and it was not a “cash gift”.

He submitted that even if the monies were a cash gift, the home was matrimonial property as they had resided therein and hence liable to a division11. The wife’s position was very inconsistent as initially she said she had “acquired” it “using her own income12 and subsequently she changed her tune and claimed that it were “cash gifts fromS. She only exhibited proof of these gifts in her 4th affidavit and not in the earlier ones. Her claim, he submitted was an afterthought. She had admitted she started working for SH as a freelance as an Architect Consultant around June 2009 and stopped working at the end of 2012. When he had asked for the source of the large deposits into her DBS account in 2012 and 2013 she had replied that:

“I was freelancing for Mr Sxxx during this period of time. The monies the Defendant is referring to consisted of cash gifts received by me from Mr Sxxx.”

It was, he submitted monies paid to her for “professional advice” rendered in her capacity as a consultant architect to SH. As she had also used some $94,000 from her CPF funds for the purchase of the home hence not all the money were a “gift”. Even if the sums were a “gift” he submitted (at pages 26-27) that they no longer retained this character since the monies were used for the family – to purchase the home and for the family’s expenses.

He also took issue with the wife’s claim that they had separated in 2009 as the wife had admitted that she tried to be supportive of him after he was retrenched from his job in May 2009. Moreover, he had made contributions to the home as was borne out by the renovation invoices dating back to 2010 which the wife had exhibited13. He also liaised with the contractors and...

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