CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeLee Li Choon
Judgment Date01 September 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 112
Citation[2015] SGFC 112
Docket NumberDivorce No. 3153 of 2012
Hearing Date29 June 2015
Plaintiff CounselMs Veronica Joseph (Drew & Napier)
Defendant CounselMs Amarjit Kour (Belinda Ang Tang & Partners)
Subject MatterCatchwords: Family Law,division of matrimonial assets,Family Law,maintenance for children,access to children
Published date16 September 2015
District Judge Lee Li Choon: Introduction

This is an appeal filed by the Plaintiff-wife against part of my decision given on 29 June 2015 on ancillary matters subsequent to a divorce. The wife’s appeal is against my decision on the husband’s access to the only child of the marriage during Chinese New Year, maintenance for the child, the division of matrimonial assets as well as my order that there shall be no maintenance for the wife.

The Plaintiff-wife and the Defendant-husband were married in Singapore on 12 January 2008. The wife filed for divorce in June 2012 and the husband responded with his counterclaim. Interim Judgment dissolving the marriage on the ground that each party has behaved in such a way that the other party cannot reasonably be expected to live with that party was granted on 10 October 2013.


The parties in this case have a 4 year old son who was born in August 2011. About two months after the birth of the child, the husband moved out of the matrimonial home to live with his parents. One important fact in this case is that the wife’s own family and extended family, including her parents, are all living in Hong Kong.

The matrimonial home is a condominium property in xxx which was bought by the wife in 2006, two years before the parties’ marriage in 2008. The wife paid the initial sum from the monies she received as an inheritance from her late mother who passed away in 2003. The property was bought with a loan of $299,261.28 from Citibank which was paid in monthly instalments of $1,495.11. After the parties’ marriage in January 2008, the husband’s name was included as a joint tenant and the transfer was registered in August 2008.

After the transfer in August 2008, the monthly instalment towards repayment of the housing loan was in the proportion of $1,035 from the husband’s CPF account and $495.11 from the wife’s CPF account. In April 2013, the wife paid the remaining outstanding housing loan for the property and as a result, the property is presently fully paid up.

Orders on appeal

The orders made by me that are the subject of this appeal are as follows: For Chinese New Year (“CNY”), in alternate years, the Defendant shall have access with the child of the marriage, B (xxx) as follows: 2016 and subsequent even years, 2pm to 9pm on the eve of CNY 2017 and subsequent odd years, 10am to 9pm on the 1st day of CNY. There shall be no maintenance for the Plaintiff. With effect from 30 June 2015, the Defendant shall pay the Plaintiff monthly maintenance of S$2000 as maintenance for B and thereafter by the last day of each month into the Plaintiff’s DBS Austosave Account No.xxx. The Defendant’s rights, title and interest in the matrimonial home situated at xxx (“the Property”) shall be transferred to the Plaintiff upon the Plaintiff refunding into the Defendant’s CPF account the CPF monies utilized towards the acquisition of the Property including accrued interest and paying the balance of the Defendant’s share of 19% of the Property in cash within 6 months of this order.

CNY Access with Child

I shall first deal with the issue of access with the child during Chinese New Year (“CNY”) for the Defendant-husband.

The wife strongly objected to access being given to the husband during school days. She reasoned that as a single mother bringing up the child, the child needs to have a clear routine and consistency in his upbringing. She also opined that the husband was not able to handle the child on his own. To give a proper context to my orders for CNY access, I will briefly describe my orders on access for the father of the child. The orders that I made with regard to access are as such: the father of the child is to have access every Saturday from 10am to 8pm and every alternate public holiday (except for CNY) from 10am to 8pm. It is to be noted that there is an interim access order issued by District Judge Geraldine Kang for the husband to have weekly unsupervised access for 4 hours every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

I found no basis for the wife’s contention that the husband was not able to look after the child on his own. On the facts, after the wife went back to work in December 2011 and as the husband did not work on Fridays and Saturdays, the wife had, on a number of occasions, asked the husband to babysit their son on his off days while she went to run some errands. During these babysitting sessions which would last from a few hours to almost 12 hours, and the son was only a few months old, the wife took no issue with the husband having unsupervised access.

The husband in this case is an xxx with xxx and he works from Sundays to Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The child presently attends a full day care at xxx from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.. Taking into account the timings of the child’s daily care arrangements and the husband’s work schedule, I found that it would work out better and in the child’s best interest for the child to spend a longer time with his father on Saturdays and on alternate public holidays. This therefore explains my orders on access. In my orders on access for the husband, I have extended the time he has with the son from the 4 hours in the interim order to 10 hours on Saturdays. I have also given the husband liberal phone and facetime access on week days.

For CNY access, the wife objected to any access being given to the husband. She reasoned that she only has one chance in a year to bring the child to meet her family who are living in Hong Kong. Except for a widowed sister who is living here in Singapore, all of the wife’s family members and relatives are in Hong Kong. She argued that the husband’s family usually have their family reunion dinner on a Saturday before CNY and that on CNY eve, the reunion meals are with the husband’s parents only as the husband’s sisters would usually join their in-laws instead.

I do not agree that the wife should have exclusive access over the CNY period just because her relatives are in Hong Kong. It is important for the child to celebrate the festive season with his paternal relatives too. In our local context, visiting and re-connecting with your relatives during CNY is an important part of the Chinese culture. Both parties are Chinese and therefore it is important for the child to associate CNY as an occasion for connecting with his paternal relatives as well and for the father to bring him around to visit his paternal relatives. CNY presents as a fantastic opportunity for the Chinese in Singapore to visit and connect with more remote relatives whom one would seldom see if not for the CNY custom of visitations. Depriving the father of CNY access would not be in the child’s best interest.

For these reasons, I ordered access for the father on one of the two important days of CNY, CNY eve and CNY 1st day in alternate years. It is to be said that my order would not deprive the child of time with his maternal relatives during the CNY as he could, in alternate years, spend time with them on either of the two most important days of CNY. In fact, in even years, when the father has access only on the eve of CNY, the child could potentially spend a few days in Hong Kong with his mother, if this does not clash with his compulsory school attendance, as I understand Hong Kong to have a longer CNY holiday break than Singapore. The intention behind my orders on CNY access is to achieve the most optimum and win-win outcome for the child and for both parties in the circumstances.

Child’s Maintenance

On maintenance for the child, there is an existing interim order for the husband to pay $1,800 per month as monthly maintenance for the child with effect from 30 April 2013 and for the husband to bear half of the premiums for the child’s existing insurance policies.

The wife sought from the husband maintenance of $2,452.24 per month, inclusive of insurance premiums for insurance policies taken out...

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