TEN v TEO

CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeSowaran Singh
Judgment Date11 May 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 59
Citation[2015] SGFC 59
Publication Date09 September 2015
Docket NumberDivorce Petition No. 6206 of 2012
Plaintiff CounselMs. Ang Choo Poh Belinda (M/s Belinda Ang Tang & Partners)
Defendant CounselMr. Javern Sim /Mr. Amarjit Singh (M/s Goria James-Civetta & Co)
SubjectCatchwords: Family Law Ancillary Hearing Division of Matrimonial assets
District Judge Sowaran Singh:

The Plaintiff (wife/mother) and the Defendant (husband/father) married in April 2000 and have two daughters from the union who are now 11 and 7+ years of age1. It was not a long marriage. On the 24 December 2012 the wife filed for a divorce based on the husband’s unreasonable behaviour. The husband was described2 as being 38 year-old Australian and a xxx whilst the wife was a 37-year-old Malaysian and a xxx. Interim Judgment (IJ) was granted on the 8 July 2013 on both their claims based on the unreasonable behaviour of the other. The ancillaries were adjourned to Chambers.

The Consent Order

On the 28 October 2013 the parties entered into a consent order (the 1st CO) giving them joint custody of the 2 children with continued care and control to the wife and access as specified to the husband. His access included overnight access, alternate public holidays, half of the school holidays in May/June as well as in November /December with effect from June 2013. However, neither party was to remove the children from Singapore without a court order or by mutual consent of the parties. Whilst the children were on holiday overseas with one party, the other was to have telephone time3 with the children at the local overseas time4 from 7.30pm to 8pm as far as practicable. Under this consent order all the remaining ancillary issues pertaining to maintenance and the division of matrimonial assets were adjourned

Other Applications

There had also been other proceedings between the parties in the meantime5 and several other applications6 including SUM 11684/2014 and SUM 11759/2014 (the 2 summonses as well as Personal Protection Order (PPO) applications.

The Hearing on the 9 December 20147

The ancillaries and the 2 summonses came up for hearing on the 9 December 2014 when the court after taking into account the views of the parties decided to appoint a Child Representative (CR) as in the 2 summonses both parties now wanted sole custody, care and control of the children as well as other related orders. The court was also informed that since the 28 August 2014 the children had been living with the husband with little meaningful contact with the wife. During this hearing the court had also interviewed the 2 children in particular with regard to the husband’s application to take then to Australia for a holiday.

The Hearing on the 12 March 2015

At the next hearing on the 12 March 2015, the court heard both parties’ submissions8 on the PPO applications after parties had agreed to rely on their affidavits9 that had been filed without the need for any cross-examination/calling other witnesses. At the conclusion the court reserved its decision on these PPO applications.

The Hearing on the 26 March 2015 & the 2nd Consent Order

On the 26 March 2015 facilitated by the CR the parties appeared before the court and entered into another consent order (the 2nd CO) under which they agreed to attend counselling at the Family Service Centre (FSC) for at least 10 or more sessions as determined by the counsellors in consultation with the CR. Further the parties agreed to not to make any negative remarks about each other to the children and to co-operate with the counsellors to advance the interests of the children. The counsellors, in consultation with the CR could submit reports to the court to seek further directions/orders.

The Hearing on the 21 April 2015

At the hearing on the 21 April 2015, the court heard submissions from both parties as well as from the CR. At the conclusion of the hearing the court ordered that there was to be joint custody of the children. The issues of their maintenance, care, control and access was to be reviewed by the parties after the counselling sessions had ended and if not resolved by themselves amicably either party could apply in the usual manner (by way of a summons application and limited to one affidavit by each party which were not to include matters that transpired before the counselling began). This was done so as not to interrupt the on-going sessions and the good work done by the counsellors/CR. In this way the court hoped that parties could derive the maximum benefit from these sessions and not re-litigate on the same old incidents some of which were the subject matter of the PPO applications. The orders also kept the role of the CR and the counsellors intact so that they could continue to assist the parties.

As for the matrimonial home (the home) and all other assets, each party was to keep whatever assets they had. There was to be no maintenance payable to the wife and the car was to be transferred by the wife to the husband forthwith. In respect of the other applications in SUM 11684/2014 and SUM 11759/2014 (the 2 summonses) which also related to the issues of custody, care, control and access to the children, the court made no orders on these. The PPO applications were dismissed. Each party was to bear their own costs of the ancillaries, the 2 summons and the PPO applications.

The Appeal

On the 5 May 2015, the husband filed an appeal against the court’s decision relating only to its order that the parties were to keep all assets that were in their own names. The court will now deal with this issue. As the court’s other orders are not being appealed against these and the evidence relating thereto need not be alluded to in these grounds in detail or at all. In the same vein only the Notes of Evidence for the hearing on the 21 April 2015 are relevant to this appeal. It must be recorded here, perhaps in abundance of caution, that nothing in these Grounds of Decision is meant to adjudicate upon or ought to be construed as a finding, a view or an opinion on the issues of the children’s maintenance, care, control or access.

The Evidence in Brief

In his first affidavit10 the husband declared that his take home income was $9,999 (gross being $11,000). The matrimonial home at 8B xxx (the home) was in the names of the wife and her brother (“LHL”) as tenants-in-common in equal half shares. This was done “for discount in loan transaction” but understood that the wife and he beneficially owned the entire property and LHL held the half share in trust for them. He said that “substantial payments for the purchase of the property and service of the mortgage loan” came from their joint POSB account No. 137xxx9 (the POSB account) that was managed by the wife solely in view of her “financial competence”. The wife would even do “fund transfers to her sole account before making payments”. The wife had denied him all the documents and information on the purchase and loan (CPF Board and Citibank N.A.) and entry into the home soon after commencing the divorce. The estimated value of the home was $3.5 million or more.

He owned a Nissan car but for “effective financial management” of their monies and assets it was registered in the wife’s name (as had been their “first family car”). Its estimated value was $22,078 and there was no loan outstanding. The car was now in his possession and driven by him. The wife had never driven it during their marriage although she had a licence. Apart from the 25,000 shares he had in a private limited company (“OK”), he had no other shares in his name but claimed that he had a “beneficial interest” in shares registered in the wife’s name and bought with monies from the POSB account. The wife had also advised him during the marriage that their monies were also invested in “overseas investment”. His 25,000 shares in OK were not worth anything as the company had been making a loss and was dormant since the middle of 2013. He declared that he did not know the balance in their POSB account or the US deposit account in Citibank and the wife managed them all along since these were opened. For the Citibank account he said he was given a credit card that was attached to this account. There was also another POSB current account (the current account) in the wife’s name with a nil balance. He had a sum of $22.22 in his POSB account and $3,021.40 in his POSB e-savings account. There was a sum of $3,547.13 in their older girl’s UOB Junior Savers account.

In his CPF accounts he had $182,596 (ordinary account), $45,500 (Medisave) and $52,729 (Special account). The other assets were a Yamaha piano bought 3 years ago at $12,000 in his possession. There were a Casio Digital piano bought for $2,000 about 4 years ago, aircons, fridges, washing machine, beds, sofa, wardrobes, cabinets and 4 TV’s and all locked up in the home. A Swiss army knife and Swiss army deep waterproof watch and all the jewellery purchased during the marriage were kept in the home. His monthly expenses came up to $10,195, which included: -food: $1,500 -transport: $1,500 -utilities: $400 -telephone/Internet: $450 -rent: $4,500 -maid salary/levy: $745 -clothing, grooming: $200 - dental: $100 -overseas travel: $200 -entertainment: $500

His monthly expenses on the children were $1,090 for each child that would be for: food ($300), tuition/enrichment ($300), overseas trip ($300), computer, phone accessories ($30) and medical ($100). He owed $200,000 to a creditor whom he named as being one “Patricia xxx” (Patricia). His direct contributions were towards the home and other asserts including the car, household items and the pianos as monies had been paid out from their joint POSB account. Under his indirect and non-financial contributions he listed that monies in their joint account had gone to pay the 2 maid’s salaries and levies and he had helped to coach the children on their “upbringing and education” and also contributed in paying for the household outgoings like the “PUB and property tax”. He did the gardening and other handyman work at the home.

On the home and maintenance, he said he made an open letter offer dated 28 February 2014 through his counsel but which was rejected. During the course of the marriage he never held any asset in...

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