CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeColin Tan
Judgment Date10 July 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 95
Citation[2015] SGFC 95
Docket NumberDivorce Suit No 4205 of 2013
Hearing Date04 March 2015,06 March 2015,26 February 2015,08 April 2015
Plaintiff CounselMr Teo Jin Huang &Ms Wong Shu Yu (M/s WongPartnership LLC)
Defendant CounselMr Amarjit Singh (M/s Gloria James-Civetta & Co)
Subject MatterFamily law,matrimonial assets,division
Published date01 September 2015
District Judge Colin Tan: Introduction

The Plaintiff and the Defendant were married in 1978 and they had 2 children. The Plaintiff wife commenced divorce proceedings in April 2013 on the basis that the Defendant husband had behaved in such a way that she could not reasonably be expected to live with him, and Interim Judgment was granted in January 2014.

After hearing both counsel and considering the affidavits and submissions, I made the following orders in respect of the ancillary matters: The parties’ matrimonial flat is to be sold on the open market within 9 months of the date of the Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final and the net sale proceeds are to be divided between the parties in the proportion of 88% to the Plaintiff wife and 12% to the Defendant husband. Neither party is to have any further claim against the other party in respect of assets held in the parties’ individual names. There is no order for maintenance for the Plaintiff.

In respect of costs, I ordered that the Defendant was to pay to the Plaintiff $4,500 as costs for the Interim Judgment stage and $4,500 as costs for the ancillary matters.

The Defendant husband has appealed against my orders in respect of division of the matrimonial flat and costs and I therefore set out herein the grounds of my decision in respect of those matters.

Matrimonial assets

According to the parties’ Affidavits of Assets and Means, apart from the parties’ matrimonial flat, which was worth about $460,0001, the parties’ assets were as follows: Defendant husband’s assets

i. Bank accounts $3,119
ii. Insurance policies $33,000
iii. CPF monies $29,988
iv. Jewellery $6,500
TOTAL $72,607
Plaintiff wife’s assets
i. Singapore bank accounts $46,108
ii. Singapore joint bank accounts $11,7962
iii. Insurance policies $144,355
iv. CPF monies $57,104
v. Jewellery $7,5003
TOTAL $266,863

It therefore appeared that, in respect of the matrimonial assets other than the parties’ matrimonial flat, the assets held by the Plaintiff wife constituted about 79% of the pool of matrimonial assets while the assets held by the Defendant husband constituted about 21% of the pool of matrimonial assets.

The parties’ positions

The parties’ positions in respect of the division of the matrimonial flat were set out as follows in the written submissions filed by counsel: the Plaintiff wife, who had paid about 80% of the purchase price of the flat, wanted the flat to be sold and the sale proceeds paid to her or, alternatively, to have the flat transferred to her; and the Defendant husband, on the other hand, wanted the flat to be transferred to him and he offered to pay the Plaintiff wife 30% of the value of the flat or, alternatively, to have the flat sold and to then have 70% of the sale proceeds paid to him, and, in addition, he wanted the matrimonial assets (79% of which were held by the Plaintiff wife) to be divided such that he would get half of these assets.

Financial contributions of the parties

The main financial contributions claimed by the Plaintiff wife were as follows: that she had effectively been the sole breadwinner of the family from 1998 onwards as the Defendant had only worked erratically since 1998; that the Defendant withdrew large amounts from the parties’ joint accounts and spent these monies on gambling; that she had contributed about 80% of the purchase price of the matrimonial flat; that she had paid for the renovation of the matrimonial flat, for household expenses such as groceries, utility bills, telephone bills and property tax, and for the 2 children’s daily expenses and education costs; and that from 2010 until January 2013 (when she moved out of the matrimonial home), she had been giving the Defendant $400 per month for his own use.

The Plaintiff wife also claimed that the Defendant husband had, over the years, been “siphoning” off monies from the parties’ joint account for his own use, to the point where there was only $557 left in the account.

The main financial contributions claimed by the Defendant husband were as follows: that he had paid $33,500 towards the renovation of the matrimonial flat between 1979 and 1980; that had deposited large sums of money into the parties’ joint accounts and that these were used for the family’s daily expenses; that, in 2009, he had lottery winnings of $20,000 which were deposited into the parties’ joint account although he subsequently used these monies to “make 5 bets of under $2,000 each” which apparently resulted in a loss; and that he had paid for the parties’ daughter’s university fees.

The Plaintiff, however, raised the following matters to challenge the Defendant’s claims: she pointed out that the purchase price of the matrimonial home in 1980 was $27,000 and that it was “incredulous” that renovation and furniture would have cost more than the price of the flat; she also pointed out that if the parties had over $30,000 more to spend at that time, they would have bought a larger flat instead of their current flat; and the parties’ daughter had stated in her affidavit that the Defendant did not pay for her university fees and she also pointed out that the Defendant was not working at the time that she was in university and that her fees were paid from the parties’ joint account which contained monies earned by the Plaintiff.

I also noted that the Defendant appeared to contradict himself in respect of his claims as he claimed in his 1st affidavit that he paid $33,500 towards the renovation in 1979 to 1980 but, in his 2nd affidavit, he claimed that the $33,500 came from monies he received in 1981, i.e. 1 to 2 years after the money had allegedly been spent.

In addition, based on the Defendant’s statements in his 1st affidavit, he appeared to be willing to make claims that, at best, were inaccurate, and, at worst, were simply untrue. I reached this view based on the following: The Defendant had stated the following in his 1st affidavit: that his last drawn gross monthly income was $2,200 as set out in his letter of employment dated 6th September 1999; that his last employer was xxx Pte Ltd; and that he worked for xxx Pte Ltd from 6th September 1999 “for some 2 years until the company wound up”. The Defendant also stated the following in his 2nd affidavit: that he had exhibited documents reflecting his employment history at pages 26 to 27 of his 1st affidavit; and that he had continued to be employed by xxx Pte Ltd for “about 2 years until the company eventually wound up in 2001” and that, after that, he “was not successful in obtaining any proper paying jobs”. The issue of the Defendant’s employment was an important one as it related to the matters concerning income and financial contributions towards the marriage and matrimonial assets. The letter of employment exhibited by the Defendant was incomplete and the portion exhibited did not specify a start date for his job, which was described as “Asst Logistic Manager”. However, since the letter was dated 6th September 1999 and there was no evidence to suggest a later start date, I was prepared to accept that the Defendant either started working on 6th September 1999 or soon thereafter. The next document exhibited by the Defendant was a set of e-mails4. These e-mails were dated 17th July 2000 and were apparently from an organisation called xxx Singapore. These e-mails stated that a “Temp Shipping Assistant” named “Mr xxx” had been told to stop working with them as he “could not fulfil the requirements of the job considering the high rate he asked for”. Although the Defendant did not provide an explanation of these e-mails, he did state in his 2nd affidavit that these documents related to his employment and therefore he was presumably the person who was terminated on or before 17th July 2000. The letter of employment and e-mails exhibited by the Defendant showed the following: the name of the company in the letter of employment appeared to be different from the name of the company in the e-mails; the job title in the letter of employment (Asst Logistic Manager) was different from the job title in the e-mails (Temp Shipping Assistant); the earliest that the Defendant could have commenced work, based on his own statements in his affidavits and the letter of employment, was 6th September 1999; and even assuming that, despite the difference in company name and job title, the e-mails and letter of employment related to the same company, the Defendant only worked there from 6th September 1999 until 17th July 2000, i.e. about 10 months and not 2 years as claimed by the Defendant in his affidavits. Lastly, the Defendant had stated in both his 1st and 2nd affidavits that he had worked for 2 years for xxx Pte Ltd until the company was wound up. In his 2nd affidavit, he even specified that this company had been wound up in 2001. A search of the Directory of Registered Entitles on the ACRA web site showed that xxx Pte Ltd was a live company. While this could potentially have cast serious doubt on the Defendant’s claim, I did not take this ACRA search into account...

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