JudgeSuzanne Chin
Judgment Date27 August 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 107
Citation[2015] SGFC 107
CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
Published date05 September 2015
Docket NumberDivorce Petition No. 403 of 2013
Plaintiff CounselMs Seenivasan Lalita (Virginia Quek Lalita & Partners)
Defendant CounselTDZ - Defendant-in-Person
Subject MatterCatch Words: Family Law Division of matrimonial assets Custody Access Maintenance
Hearing Date02 July 2015,04 June 2015
District Judge Suzanne Chin:

The Plaintiff wife (“the Wife”) filed for divorce on 22 January 2013 after close to 16 years of marriage to the Defendant husband (“the Husband”) on the grounds of four years separation. The Interim judgement was granted on 11 June 2013 and the ancillary matters fell to be determined before me on 4 June 2015. On 2 July 2015, having considered all of the evidence and submissions, I made certain orders relating to custody, care and control and access to the child of the marriage, maintenance for the Wife and child and division of matrimonial property. For ease of reference, the orders are reproduced below: The Plaintiff shall be awarded sole custody of the child. By consent, care and control of the child shall be granted to the Plaintiff. There shall be no access by the Defendant to the child. In full and final settlement of all issues relating to the division of property and maintenance for the child: that the Defendant’s rights, interests and share in the matrimonial property known as and situated at xxx which is in the joint names of the Plaintiff and Defendant, shall be transferred to the Plaintiff within three (3) months from the date of Certificate of Making the Interim Judgement Final without any consideration being paid to the Defendant. The Plaintiff 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. The Defendant shall pay to the Plaintiff a sum of $1.00 as monthly maintenance for the P with effect from 1 March 2015 and thereafter on the 1st day of each month. All maintenance amounts referred to above shall be paid into the Plaintiff’s POSB bank account no xxx.

The Husband has appealed against the orders made in relation to the custody, access and child maintenance as well as the division of matrimonial property. I now set forth the reasons for my decision on these issues.


The parties were married on 19 May 1997. The Husband is 43 years old and is a xxx while the Wife is 42 years old and works as an xxx. There is one child to the marriage who is now 14 years of age. The Wife filed for divorce on 22 Jan 2013 and Interim Judgement was granted on 11 June 2013.

After the marriage, the parties purchased the matrimonial flat at xxx and resided together. In December 2003, when the child was only 2 years old, the Husband left the matrimonial flat. Since his departure, the Husband has not seen the daughter save for one occasion 7-8 years ago when he bumped into the daughter at Lucky Plaza by chance. As such, for the last 12 years, the Wife has remained in the matrimonial flat with the child and has singlehandedly raised the child.

Custody of and access to the Child

There was no dispute on the issue of care and control of the child as both parties agreed that the Wife should continue to have care and control of the child. At the hearing, I recorded a consent order granting care and control of the child to the Wife. The key dispute centred on the custody of and access to the child.

The Wife is asking that she be granted sole custody of the child with no access to the Husband. She referred to the fact that the Husband had abandoned the child since 2003 and had made no attempt to see the child or have any contact with her. In the 12 years since he left the matrimonial home, he had essentially neglected the child and had not bought her any gifts, called her or even sent her a card. She recounted that in 2012, the Husband had called the Wife to request that she act as bailor for him when he was charged in court for sponsoring women to work in nightclubs. During the call, he did not ask once ask about the daughter. It was the Wife’s position that the Husband clearly had no interest in the daughter or her welfare. He was a total stranger to the child and had no idea of anything happening in her life. She also informed the court that her daughter had told her that she did not want to see her father and was in fact afraid of him.[Note 1]

The Wife also referred to the fact that the Husband had been convicted and sentenced to prison in 2013 for knowingly bringing prostitutes to Singapore and living off the earnings of these prostitutes. With his character and track record, she contended that it would not be in the interest of the child for joint custody to be granted.

The Husband on the other hand was requesting for joint custody and weekly or fortnightly access to the child in the presence of his parents.[Note 2]He denied that that he had made no attempts to see the child. To this end, he claimed to have tried to contact the Wife initially but as he could not reach her, he eventually gave up as he did not want to trouble the daughter and thought that if he persisted, it would “end up in trouble”.[Note 3] He said that he wanted to see the child now that she was a “fine lady and …studying well.”[Note 4]

When considering issues of custody and access, the standard to be applied is the welfare of the child as encapsulated in sections 3 and 11 of the Guardianship of Infants Act (Cap 122). The court shall regard the welfare of the child as being the first and paramount consideration. Since the Court of Appeal case of CX v CY [2005] 3 SLR 60, it has become a well-established principle that making an order for joint custody of a child of a marriage is the norm with the order of sole custody being the exception. In this regard, the direct involvement of both parents in a child’s life is generally considered to in the best interests of the child and serves as a reminder to both parents of their joint parental obligations. In contrast however, a sole custody order is warranted only where there are circumstances which indicate that a joint custody order would not be in the best interest of the child.

I considered that this was a case where the circumstances point to a joint custody order not being in the interest of the child. For the reasons set forth below, I did not consider that it would be in the best interests of the child for the Husband to be involved in the long term decision making for her welfare.

For the last twelve years, the Husband has had nothing to do with the child and knows nothing about her. He has shown no interest in her life as can be seen from the fact that he had taken no steps to try to see her. While he claims that he tried to call the Wife but was not able to get in touch with her, I noted that he never attempted to pursue other avenues of recourse available to him. This in my view shows a lack of sincerity on his part. I also did not find that the Husband had provided a viable explanation as to why he suddenly was interested in re-establishing contact with the child after 12 years of showing no interest whatsoever in the child.

In the case of Wong Phila Me v Shaw Harold [1991] SLR 93, the conduct of the parties was noted as one of the relevant factors to be considered in the proper application of the welfare principle. I considered the 2013 convictions of the Husband and his involvement in activities of a nature which would certainly pose a grave risk to a 14 year old teenaged girl. The Husband claimed that the 2013 conviction was the one occasion when he was charged and while he denies that he was a “pimp”, he also states that he had learnt his lesson.[Note 5]. I found the Husband’s contentions on this issue somewhat contradictory and was not convinced that the Husband had indeed ceased engaging in these activities. During the hearing, I noted that notwithstanding the submissions made by the Wife’s counsel of his convictions and her assertions of his continuing nefarious activities, the Husband remained silent and chose not to respond to...

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