JudgeSuzanne Chin
Judgment Date22 May 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 61
CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberDivorce Suit No: 1412/2013
Published date26 August 2015
Hearing Date26 March 2015,04 December 2014
Plaintiff CounselMs Yvonne Sweeney (M/s Gloria James-Civetta & Co)
Defendant CounselMr Lee Teck Hai (M/s Lee T H & Partners)
Subject MatterCatchwords: custody,care and control,welfare of child,maintenance,children,access,social welfare report
Citation[2015] SGFC 61
District Judge Suzanne Chin: Background

The parties were married on 21 August 2006 and there are 2 children to the marriage, a daughter aged 7 years and a son aged 5 years.

The plaintiff wife (“the Wife”) commenced divorce proceedings on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour and the defendant husband (“the Husband”) filed a counterclaim citing unreasonable behaviour on the part of the Wife. The Interim Judgement was granted on 27 January 2014 on the Counterclaim. This was a marriage which lasted for 7 years.

The Ancillary Orders

The ancillary matters first came for hearing before me on 4 December 2015. During the hearing, counsel indicated to the court that the parties had consented to joint custody of the 2 children and accordingly I recorded a consent order. As the parties were unable to agree to care and control and access for the 2 children, counsel for the Wife requested that a child representative be appointed. After I drew counsel’s attention to the fact that a child representative might not be appropriate given the ages of the children, the Wife’s counsel made a request for a Custody Evaluation Report (“CER”). This was not objected to by the Husband’s counsel. Taking into account the ages of the children, I found that a Social Welfare Report (“SWR”) would be more appropriate and accordingly I ordered that a Social Welfare Report be prepared.

The parties came before me for a second time on 26 March 2015 and during the hearing, the parties were able to reach an agreement on the division of matrimonial property and I accordingly recorded a consent order for this. The remaining issues to be determined by the court related to the care and control of, access to and maintenance for the 2 children and maintenance for the Wife.

After hearing from the parties and considering their affidavits as well as taking into consideration the findings of the SWR prepared by the Counselling Psychologist for centre, for Psychotherapy, I made the following orders on 26 March 2015: By consent, it is ordered that in full and final settlement of all issues relating to the division of matrimonial assets: that the Plaintiff's rights, interest and share in the matrimonial property known as and situated at xxx which is in the joint names of the Plaintiff and the Defendant, shall be transferred to the Defendant within three (3) months from the date of Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final upon the Defendant paying to the Plaintiff a sum of equivalent to 35% of the value of the matrimonial property. The Plaintiff shall be responsible for refunding into her CPF account all the monies utilized for the purchase of the flat together with accrued interest. The Defendant is to bear the costs and expenses of the transfer. This Order is made subject to the Central Provident Fund Act (Cap. 36) ("CPF Act") and the subsidiary legislation made thereunder made in respect of the Member's CPF moneys, property, investments. The Board shall give effect to the terms of this order in accordance with the provisions of the CPF Act and the subsidiary legislation made thereunder. The Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Family Justice Courts under section 31 of the Family Justice Act (Act 27 of 2014) is empowered to execute, sign or indorse 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. That each party shall retain his or her own other assets that are in their respective sole names. By consent there shall be joint custody of xxx and xxx. Sole care and control of the 2 children shall be granted to the Defendant with liberal access to the Plaintiff. No order as to maintenance for the 2 children. No order as to maintenance for the Plaintiff. Liberty to apply.

Notice of Appeal

The Wife filed an appeal on 7 April 2014 against my orders relating to care and control of, access to and maintenance for the 2 children. I set out my reasons below.

Care and Control

Both parties were quick to say that how they were the better parent citing reasons why the other parent was not suited to have care and control of the children and why it would be in the children’s interests if care and control were granted to each of them. I noted that in matters of this nature, it is not uncommon for parties to highlight or even exaggerate their contributions and involvement in the care and control of the children while downplaying the efforts of the opposing party.

The Wife claimed to have all along been the primary care giver to the 2 children since their birth and contended that she made all necessary arrangements to have the family’s domestic helper assist in looking after the children when she was unavailable. She submitted that she was the party providing all emotional and moral support to the children and she worked hard to provide the best environment she could to the children. In contrast she contended that the...

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