TDQ v TDR

CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeYarni Loi
Judgment Date29 May 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 72
Citation[2015] SGFC 72
Docket NumberDivorce No. 4996 of 2012 G, Summons No. 11013 of 2014, Summons No. 15997 of 2014, HCF/DCA No. 75/2015, HCF/DCA No. 76/2015
Publication Date06 November 2015
Plaintiff CounselMr Peh Chong Yew (Advent Law Corporation)
Defendant CounselMs Linda Ong (Engelin Teh & Partners)
SubjectFamily Law-Consent Order-Variation-Specifying time to do an act-Penal notice
District Judge Yarni Loi: Introduction

This is my judgment in respect of orders made in Summons No. 11013/14 which was taken out by the Defendant-wife (“Defendant’s Application”) and cross-Summons No. 15997/14 which was taken out by the Plaintiff-husband (“Plaintiff’s Application”). Both applications were filed in respect of a Consent Interim Judgment dated 5 August 2013 which parties entered into after reaching a global settlement on divorce and ancillary matters (“Consent Order”).

In the Defendant’s Application, the Defendant sought various orders to either vary the terms of the Consent Order and/or specify a time for the Plaintiff to perform certain acts which he was obliged to perform under the Consent Order, but which he had failed to perform. In the Plaintiff’s Application, he essentially sought to vary the terms of the Consent Order. The Defendant asserted that the Plaintiff’s Application amounted to an attempt to delay his obligations under the Consent Order and/or otherwise renege from the terms agreed by the parties.

After hearing parties, I allowed most of the prayers in the Defendant’s Application and substantively dismissed the Plaintiff’s Application. I also ordered costs in favour of the Defendant in the sum of $5000 and reasonable disbursements.

I now give my full reasons.

Brief background facts

The Plaintiff and the Defendant met in Secondary School and married on 18 September 2002 when they were both 24 years old. They have a young daughter who was born on 5 November 2004 and is 10 years old (“their Child”).

The Defendant started working in 2000 after graduating from university but stopped working in mid-2004 a few months before giving birth to their Child to stay at home and look after her. The Plaintiff comes from a wealthy family and works in his family’s company business, xxx Pte Ltd, which supplies xxx gas to commercial and residential properties. His family owns xxx, the second largest taxi operator in Singapore.

The marriage became strained sometime in or around 2006. The Plaintiff failed to return to their matrimonial home regularly, but instead moved in to live with his own parents. In or around October 2007, in an attempt to save the marriage, the Defendant and their Child also moved in to live with the Plaintiff’s parents. The Plaintiff and Defendant lived in the same room in his parents’ home until early 2008 when the Plaintiff moved out of his parents’ home, although he would return as and when he pleased. The Defendant started to suspect that he was having an affair.

The Defendant and their Child continued to live with the Plaintiff’s parents until 2010 when they moved into a rented apartment in order to be near their Child’s intended primary school. The Plaintiff agreed to pay the rental for the apartment.

In or around October 2012, without informing the Defendant, the Plaintiff commenced divorce proceedings. The Defendant only discovered that the Plaintiff had commenced proceedings when she received his lawyer’s letter dated 18 January 2013 regarding a Status Conference scheduled in the Family Court. She promptly engaged her own lawyers who accepted service of process on her behalf on 29 January 2013. Upon receiving the papers, she came to realize that the Plaintiff had filed for divorce on the grounds of 4 years’ separation.

The Defendant engaged a private investigator (“PI”) to carry out surveillance on the Plaintiff. According to the PI’s report, the Plaintiff appeared to be having an affair with two different PRC women. The Plaintiff was living with a Chinese national, xxx (“CY”), at an apartment in Flora Road with their two sons aged 5 years old and 6 months, as well as a domestic maid. The Plaintiff was also seen behaving intimately with a different woman, another Chinese national, who was residing at Emerald Park.

The Defendant filed a Defence and Counterclaim against the Plaintiff on the grounds that the marriage had broken down as a result of the Plaintiff’s adultery and unreasonable behaviour.

The Consent Order

After the Defendant filed her Counterclaim, the Plaintiff was eager to resolve matters on an uncontested basis and his lawyers sent various proposals to the Defendant’s former lawyers, proposing settlement. As a single mother who was now responsible for their Child, the Defendant agreed to consider a global settlement, even though she was very angry and aggrieved with the Plaintiff’s betrayal and wanted her day in Court. She took her family’s advice to calm down and try to resolve matters for the sake of their Child. She wanted to secure a financial settlement which would ensure that their Child would be well looked after.

The Defendant’s uncle met up with the Plaintiff on several occasions, on her behalf, to discuss settlement. Separately, the Plaintiff and Defendant also attended mediation at the Child Focused Resolution Centre (“CFRC”) with their counsel on 3 June 2013, 25 June 2013 and 15 July 2013 with a view to reaching a global settlement. The Defendant’s main concerns were: division of a HDB Flat at xxx (“the HDB Flat”) which is held jointly by parties; division of a property at xxx (“the Cadence Light Property”) held in the Defendant’s sole name; division of other assets, including their cars; maintenance for the Defendant; maintenance for their Child; and her fear that the Plaintiff would only provide for his 2 sons with his mistress; and her concern that he should set aside a portion of his wealth for their Child’s long term benefit.

According to the Defendant, during the negotiation process (where both sides were ably represented by counsel), the Plaintiff (through his solicitors) applied pressure on the Defendant to settle. He would impose urgent deadlines for her to meet and threaten that if she did not agree to his terms by the deadlines he set, he would call off the deal. Hence, for example, on 24 July 2013, his solicitors sent an email to the Defendant’s solicitors at 12.26pm stating that she had to agree to the terms of the draft Consent Order by 3pm that same day and attend before a Duty Registrar by 3pm to record the terms of their agreement, otherwise “the settlement terms shall be called off.”

Parties eventually reached a global agreement and filed the draft Consent Order on 25 July 2013. As part of their agreement, the Defendant was granted leave to withdraw her Defence and Counterclaim so that the divorce could proceed on an uncontested basis. The Plaintiff’s solicitors also attended before the Duty Registrar to obtain an urgent date for the Interim Judgment to be obtained. In the event, the Consent Order was obtained on 5 August 2013 and Final Judgment on 6 November 2013 (“FJ”).

According to the Defendant, the reason the Plaintiff wanted a settlement so badly was because he was facing time pressure regarding immigration issues relating to his illegitimate sons with CY. He was in a hurry to divorce the Defendant so that he could marry his mistress, CY, and legitimize his illegitimate sons. The Defendant contended that now that the Plaintiff had achieved his objective of obtaining IJ swiftly in August 2013 and FJ three months later, he wished to disavow the Consent Order.

Paragraph 3 of the Consent Order contains the terms relating to ancillary matters, as follows: Child issues The Defendant shall have sole custody, care and control of their Child, with liberal access to the Plaintiff but subject to the child’s school schedule and extra-curricular classes and provided that such access shall only take place in the presence of the Plaintiff and his family members but no other third party. HDB Flat The HDB flat at xxx (“the HDB Flat”) shall be transferred (otherwise than by way of sale) to the Defendant in her sole name with no CPF refunds to be made to the Plaintiff’s CPF account. The Plaintiff shall pay for all costs and disbursements of the transfer. This transfer to the Defendant is to be free from encumbrances and free from any claims or interest whatsoever from the Plaintiff and/or any third party. In view of the Plaintiff’s request to be given time to pay off the outstanding mortgage, the Defendant agrees that the Plaintiff shall be allowed to continue to pay the monthly instalments to service the loan taken on this flat until the loan is fully paid instead of insisting that the Plaintiff is to pay off the outstanding loan by way of lump sum payment to the bank at the time of the transfer. The Plaintiff shall be solely responsible for repayment of the current loan and mortgage in respect of the HDB flat and shall do all that is necessary to ensure that he will be responsible for the financing of the HDB flat after the transfer. If the Defendant should sell the flat before the loan has been fully paid, the Plaintiff shall pay off the whole of the outstanding loan and discharge the mortgage (and bear the costs and disbursements thereof) on the HDB flat upon completion of the sale. The Defendant shall be entitled to the whole of the sale proceeds of the HDB flat and the Plaintiff shall have no claim on the sale proceeds, or any part thereof, whatsoever. The Plaintiff shall take out a mortgage insurance policy in respect of the HDB flat on terms acceptable to the Defendant and shall take all necessary steps to ensure that the Defendant is the sole beneficiary of any insurance payout arising from this mortgage insurance policy. The Plaintiff shall be entitled to continue to pay for the existing mortgage insurance policy in respect of the HDB Flat if the terms of the existing policy are acceptable to the Defendant. For the avoidance of doubt, the Plaintiff shall not have any rights, title or interest in the HDB flat after the said transfer despite continuing to make payment of the mortgage payments in respect of the HDB flat. Cadence Light Property The Defendant shall retain the property known as xxx (“Cadence Light Property”) in her sole...

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