TEL v TEM

CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeTan Peck Cheng
Judgment Date27 July 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 99
Citation[2015] SGFC 99
Docket NumberD3916 of 2012
Publication Date02 September 2015
Plaintiff CounselGodwin Gilbert Campos (Godwin Campos LLC)
SubjectCatchwords: Family Law-Ancillary matters,custody care and control of and access to child, maintenance and division of assets
District Judge Tan Peck Cheng: Introduction

The parties met when they were in University in Calgary, Canada. They married in Shah Alam Malaysia in May 1997 and they lived in Malaysia until they moved to Singapore in 1999. They have a pair of twin daughters now 11 years old (born on xxx 2001). The Plaintiff (‘husband’) filed for divorce and the Defendant (‘wife’) filed a counterclaim each based on the unreasonable behaviour of the other. Ultimately parties agreed to proceed with the divorce on an uncontested basis on the wife’s counterclaim. Interim judgement was granted on 30 April 2013 with ancillary matters adjourned to be heard in chambers.

I heard the ancillary matters and made the following orders: By consent the Plaintiff and Defendant shall have joint custody of the 2 children of the marriage B and C with care and control to the Defendant and access to the Plaintiff as follows: Overnight access on the 1st and 3rd weekend of each month from Saturday 9.00am to Sunday 9.00pm. 1 week overnight access during the June and December school holidays. Chinese New Year – eve of Chinese New Year from 9.00am to 1st day of Chinese New Year at 9.00am on alternate years and from the 1st day of Chinese New Year after 9.00am to 9.00am of 2nd day of Chinese New Year on other alternate years starting with Chinese New Year 2016. The Plaintiff shall be at liberty to bring the child to his parents’ home in Johor Bahru Malaysia during access. The Plaintiff shall give the Defendant 7 days’ notice if he intends to take the children to Johor Bahru. For the purpose of the travel to Johor Bahru, the Defendant shall hand to the Plaintiff the children’s passports and the Plaintiff shall hand the passports back to the Defendant upon return to Singapore. The Plaintiff shall furnish to the Defendant the address and contact number outside Singapore. The matrimonial flat at Block xxx, Singapore shall be sold in the open market and the proceeds of sale after payment of mortgage and after deducting the costs and expenses of sale shall be divided in the proportion of 25% to the Plaintiff and 75% to the Defendant. The Defendant shall have the first option to buy the Plaintiff’s 25% share of the matrimonial flat by giving notice of intention to purchase to the Plaintiff within 4 weeks of the date of this order. Each party to keep all other assets in their respective names. The Plaintiff shall pay to Defendant maintenance of $1,200 per month for the maintenance of the 2 children of the marriage and $1 per month for the maintenance of the Defendant. The costs of the ancillary matters hearing shall be agreed or taxed together with the costs of Interim Judgement which has been ordered to the Defendant to be taxed.

The husband and wife have appealed my decision. The wife’s appeal is in respect of the whole decision and the husband’s appeal is in respect of the division of the matrimonial flat. I set out the reasons for my decision.

Custody care and control of and access to the children

The parties agreed that they shall have joint custody with care and control to the wife. They also agreed on the weekend, school holiday and Chinese New Year access including overnight access. The only issue with overnight access was that the wife did not want the husband to have overnight access until after he has rented a whole flat or purchased a flat in Singapore and she did not want him to bring the children to his parents’ home in Johore Bahru.

The husband wanted to be able to bring the children to his parent’s home. His reasons were that he would not have the means, after division of the matrimonial flat, to rent a whole flat or purchase a flat. He intends to rent a room and he would bring the children to his parents’ home during access. He has brought them there before when they were young and he could look after them.

The only reason given by the wife for not wanting the children to go to their grandparent’s home in Johore Bahru is that they have not been there for the last 4 years. In my view that is not sufficient reason. Furthermore, I believe that the husband is unlikely to be able to buy or rent his own flat. The wife’s restrictions would have the effect of denying the husband the overnight access which the wife agreed he could have. I therefore gave the husband liberty to bring the children to his parents’ home. He has to give the wife prior notice of each trip and provide her with their address and contact number outside Singapore.

Division of the matrimonial flat

The parties agreed to divide only their matrimonial flat and to retain all other assets in their respective name.

The matrimonial flat is a 3 room HDB flat in Geylang Bahru which the parties purchased in December 1999 for $151,000. The market value of the matrimonial flat is between $350,000 (wife’s estimated market value as at 12 July 2013) and $351,000 (husband’s estimated market value as at 12 August 2014). The outstanding mortgage as at 11 August 2014 was $38,976.54.

The wife wanted the husband to transfer his interest in the flat to her without any payment to the husband. The husband wanted an equal division.

Direct contributions to the matrimonial flat

The wife received a CPF housing grant of $40,000 for the purchase of the matrimonial flat. The wife’s counsel submitted that this amount should be attributed solely to the wife as she was the one who was eligible for the grant, being a Singapore citizen. However the husband’s counsel submitted that it should be attributed equally to the parties as the husband has purchased the matrimonial flat jointly with the wife. Bearing in mind that the grant is payable to a Singapore citizen for the purchase of an HDB flat I am of the view that since the husband has joined the wife to form the family nucleus required to purchase the matrimonial flat, it is only fair to attribute the sum of $40,000 equally between them.

The husband contributed $64,544 from his CPF and the wife $66,443.01 from her CPF towards the matrimonial flat. The husband alleged that the amount of the wife’s CPF contributions is inclusive of the $40,000 CPF housing grant. However right up to the date I made the orders for this case, he did not substantiate his allegation. I therefore did not regard the wife’s CPF amount to be inclusive of the CPF grant.

It was not disputed that the wife paid $15,000 for cash over valuation and the husband paid $13,000 for the refurbishment of the flat.

Additionally, the wife alleged that she spent $35,000 on the renovation of the matrimonial flat sometime in 1999 and the money came from her mother. She exhibited the cashier’s order from her parents’ account, quotations from the contractor and the receipts that were issued in her name to substantiate her allegation. The husband agreed that there were renovations done to the matrimonial home sometime in 2009 but he contended that he was against the renovation, never agreed to the wife taking money from her parents for the renovations and was not involved at all. He stated in paragraph 10 of his 2nd Affidavit of Means dated 27 August 2013 that he ‘was at all material times against the idea of renovating the home’, that ‘renovation was definitely not necessary’ and ‘instead of listening to him the wife went to seek assistance from my mother-in-law’. He stated that ‘my mother-in-law insisted and she told me to treat...

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