JudgeMasayu Norashikin
Judgment Date16 October 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 132
CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberDivorce No. 5270 of 2013
Published date28 October 2015
Hearing Date28 May 2015
Plaintiff CounselMr Patrick Fernandez (I.R.B Law LLP)
Defendant CounselMr Arul Suppiah (APL Law Corporation)
Subject MatterFamily Law,custody, care and control, and access,division of matrimonial assets,transfer of CPF monies,no maintenance for wife and children in lieu of division
Citation[2015] SGFC 132
District Judge Masayu Norashikin: Background

Parties were married in May 1999. There are two children to the marriage who were aged 14 and 12 years at the time of the hearing before me.

The wife and children moved out of the matrimonial home in February 2013. She filed for divorce in October 2013. On 5 August 2014, a Maintenance Order was made in separate proceedings for the Defendant husband to pay the Plaintiff wife $600 per month as maintenance for the two children.

Interim Judgment was granted in October 2014 on both the Plaintiff’s claim and the Defendant’s counterclaim. Both parties relied on the fact that the other party had behaved in such a way that they could not reasonably be expected to live with him/her.

The Plaintiff is 45 years old. She is a xx and earns a monthly take home income of $1,311.50. The Defendant is 47 years old and is unemployed. He is an undischarged bankrupt and was legally aided in these proceedings. He appeared to have various medical ailments and his medical expenses are paid through Comcare and Medisave.

I heard the ancillary matters and made the following orders on 28 May 2015. Parties shall have joint custody of the 2 children, with care and control to the Plaintiff and access to the Defendant every Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm. Parties and both children are to attend the Children-in-Between Programme. The matrimonial flat at xxx (“the Matrimonial Flat”) shall be sold in the open market within 6 months of the Certificate of Final Judgment. The proceeds of sales shall be used to pay off the outstanding mortgage loan and the costs and expenses of sale. The balance thereafter shall be divided equally between the Plaintiff and the Defendant. Parties shall refund their respective CPF accounts all monies utilised for the purchase of the flat, including accrued interest, from their respective shares. In the event either of their shares is insufficient to make a full refund, only a partial refund to that party’s CPF account shall be made from their share. Parties to have joint conduct of sale. Upon sale of the flat and after the refund into parties’ respective CPF accounts of the required monies, CPF Board shall transfer a sum of $25,000 from the Defendant’s CPF Ordinary account to the Plaintiff’s CPF Ordinary Account. Each party shall retain assets in their respective names. In lieu of the above division, there shall be no maintenance for the Plaintiff and the two children. In the event that either party fails to execute any documents in relation to the sale of the matrimonial flat upon being given 14 days’ written notice, the Registrar or Assistant Registrar of the Family Justice Courts shall be empowered to sign such document on behalf of the defaulting party. Liberty to apply. No order as to costs.

The Defendant husband appealed against my orders on the division of matrimonial assets. I set out below the reasons for my decision on these orders. I shall refer to the Plaintiff as the Wife, and the Defendant as the Husband.

Pool of matrimonial assets

The matrimonial assets were undisputed and comprised the following.

S/No. Item Value ($)
Joint assets
1. Matrimonial Flat Estimated value $525,000 less outstanding loan of $137,326.75 387,673.25
Wife’s assets
2. POSB bank account 2,641.60
3. CPF monies - Ordinary account - Special account - Medisave account 45,678.99 17,684.82 16,486.92
Subtotal 82,492.33
Husband’s assets
4. POSB bank account 1.28
5. CPF monies - Ordinary account - Special account - Medisave account 3,230.79 38,193.95 45,405.40
Subtotal 86,831.42
Total value of matrimonial assets 556,997.00

Parties agreed that they would each retain their own assets.

Parties’ direct contributions through CPF for the Matrimonial Flat were in the proportion of 10% by the Wife and 90% by the Husband. I have taken only the respective principal amounts withdrawn from the accounts.

Wife $14,850.23 (10% of total CPF principal amount withdrawn)
Husband $128,986.23 (90% of total CPF principal amount withdrawn)
Total $143,836.46
Wife’s case

The Wife asked for the Matrimonial Flat to be sold, and that at least 40% of the nett sale proceeds be given to her.

In addition, she asked that lump sum maintenance be ordered for her and the children. Under the Maintenance Order, the Husband was to pay $300 per child. For the purposes of lump sum maintenance, the Wife proposed $200 per month instead, calculated up to the time each child would reach 21 years of age. This totalled $17,600 for the first child, and $21,600 for the second child. As for herself, she asked for lump maintenance of $36,000, calculated based on $100 per month over a multiplier of 30 years. The multiplier was calculated based on the general life-expectancy of women in Singapore being 75 years old, less the Wife’s age of 45 years. The total amount of lump sum maintenance for the Wife and two children was therefore $75,200.

The reasons she asked for lump sum instead of monthly maintenance were threefold. The Husband is an undischarged bankrupt. The Husband has been unemployed since October 2013. He claimed to be suffering from depression. Further, on the day of the ancillary matter hearing, he tendered a memorandum from the National University Hospital dated 30 April 2015 which stated that he had severe ischemic heart disease and major blockages of his heart arteries. He was supposed to undergo a bypass surgery four to six weeks from the date of the memorandum, with medical leave before and after the operation. The full recovery period was expected to be a minimum of eight weeks after the operation. The Husband has refused to pay the maintenance sum in the Maintenance Order since it was made in August 2014.

Expenses of Wife and children

The Wife said she has been suffering from eczema since December 2013 and requires medicine whenever there is a flare-up of the condition. She was previously hospitalised for eight days for inflammation of the kidneys and requires lifetime medication to manage the condition.

The Wife’s claim of her and the children’s monthly expenses is set out in the table below. I am of the view that the amounts are mostly reasonable, with possibly some adjustments to the non-essential items such as mobile phone, enrichment, clothing and entertainment.

S/No Item Amount ($)
Wife’s expenses
1. Rent (including utilities) 300
2. Food and groceries 200
3. Food (eating out) 120
4. Transport 80
5. Mobile phone 80
6. Medical (estimate) 200
7. Personal grooming/toiletries 100
8. Enrichment/clothing/ Entertainment etc 100
Sub-total 1,180
First child’s expenses
9. Food/pocket money 200
10. Transport 50
11. Textbooks and stationery 30
12. Mobile phone bill 33
13. Medical 30
14. Clothing/entertainment 50
Sub-total 393
Second child’s expenses
15. Food/pocket money 120
16. Transport 30
17. Textbooks and stationery 30
18. Mobile phone bill 15
19. Medical 30
20. Clothing/entertainment 70
Sub-total 295
Total 1,868
Indirect contributions during the marriage

The Wife said she paid about $5,000 for home furniture, fittings and appliances.

She claimed that the Husband’s business failed sometime at the end of 2002 and he incurred losses of almost $50,000 borrowed using his credit cards. He then did not work for 9 months. She had to pawn her jewellery and work long hours to earn extra money to pay for the household and children’s expenses. The Husband found work at the end of 2003 but left the job in mid-2012.

The family had employed a maid from May 2003 to November 2012. The Wife said she and the Husband shared the monthly salary of $350 and levy of $150 equally. She also said that when the Husband was working, they shared all household and children’s expenses equally.

The Wife claimed that the flat was rented out from June 2013 to June 2014 for $2,700 a month, earning a rental income of $32,400. She said the Husband never gave her any part of the rental proceeds,...

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