CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
JudgeSuzanne Chin
Judgment Date30 October 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 133
Citation[2015] SGFC 133
Docket NumberD4472 of 2014
Hearing Date10 September 2015,23 September 2015
Plaintiff CounselMs A C Shone (A C Shone & Co.)
Defendant CounselMs Jeanny Ng (Jeanny Ng)
Subject MatterAncillary matters, division of matrimonial property
Published date18 November 2015
District Judge Suzanne Chin: Introduction

This judgement is made respect of orders on ancillary matters in D4472/2014. After hearing from the parties, I made orders on the issues of custody, care and control and access to the child, division of matrimonial property and maintenance for the wife and child. In respect of the matrimonial assets, I made the following orders:

“In full and final settlement of all issues relating to the division of matrimonial property:

the matrimonial flat shall remain in the name of the Plaintiff and the Defendant’s name shall be removed as occupier upon the plaintiff paying to the Defendant a sum of $11,000 within 3 months of final judgement. That each party shall retain his or her own other assets that are in their respective sole names.” The Defendant husband (“Husband”) being dissatisfied with my orders on the division of matrimonial property, filed an appeal on 6 October 2015. Background

The parties were married on 18 May 1987 and Interim Judgement for divorce was granted on 28 October 2014 on the basis of four years separation. This was a marriage which had lasted for 27 years.

The Plaintiff wife (“Wife”) is 61 years old and is a food centre worker while the Husband is 66 years old and works as a cleaner. They have a 19 year old son. At the hearing, the parties were in agreement on all of the issues relating to the child and I recorded a consent order in this regard. The issues that remained to be determined in chambers at the ancillary hearing concerned the division of matrimonial assets which included the matrimonial flat as well as maintenance for the Wife.

Division of the Matrimonial Pool Position of each party

The Wife was the sole owner of the matrimonial flat and she asked that she be allowed to retain the matrimonial flat. Since the Husband was named as an occupier, she was also asking that the court orders that the Husband’s name be removed as occupier with no consideration to him. While the Husband was agreeable to being removed as occupier, he was asking that a sum of $64,141.50 be paid to him.

The Law

The duty of the court in the division of matrimonial assets is to consider all the circumstances of the case including the following factors as provided in s 112(2) of the Women’s Charter (“the Charter”): The extent of the contributions made by each party in money, property or work towards the acquiring, improving or maintaining of the matrimonial assets; Any debt owing or obligation incurred or undertaken by either party for their joint benefit or for the benefit of any child of the marriage; The needs of the children (if any) of the marriage; The extent of the contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home or caring for the family or any aged or infirm relative or dependant of either party; Any agreement between the parties with respect to the ownership and division of the matrimonial assets made in contemplation of divorce; Any period of rent-free occupation or other benefit enjoyed by one party in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party; The giving of assistance or support by one party to the other (whether or not of a material kind), including the giving of assistance or support which aids the other party in carrying on of his or her occupation or business; and The matters referred to in s 114(1) so far as they are relevant.

In exercising its powers, “the court would adopt a broad brush approach to the issue and make a determination on the basis of what the court considers as a just and equitable division (Lim Choon Lai v Chew Kim Heng [2001] 3 SLR 225) but a structured approach is not inconsistent with the broad brush approach (ARL v ARM [2015] SGHC 61 at [12]).

In the recent case of AVM v AWH [2015] SGHC 194, the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in ANJ v ANK [2015] SGCA 34 was referred to and the approach of the Court of Appeal summarised into the following four-step approach in determining the division of assets: “(a) First, derive a ratio which represents the relationship between the direct financial contributions of each party towards the acquisition or improvement of matrimonial assets. Where all necessary evidence is available, this is an arithmetical exercise. Where all necessary evidence is not available, the court must use a broad brush to make approximations based on the available documentary evidence and on the parties’ own evidence assessed in the light of their veracity. Next, derive a second ratio which represents the relationship between the non-financial and indirect financial contributions of each party towards the welfare of the family. This is necessarily a matter of impression and judgment to be approached in broad strokes. Then, average the two ratios to derive each party’s overall contribution to the family. This average forms the basis for the division of the matrimonial assets. Finally, make any adjustments which are necessary to arrive at a just and equitable division of the matrimonial assets. The necessary adjustment can be made either by increasing or decreasing the average ratio derived in the third step or by attaching greater weight to one of the component ratios derived in the first step or the second step. The adjustment in this final step is a qualitative adjustment based on the court’s sense of what is fair and just. It is made to recognise that, in certain cases and on certain facts, one type of contribution may carry greater importance than the other. It is also the opportunity to take into account all the circumstances of the case as well as the factors enumerated in s 112(2) of the Women's Charter other than in s 112(2)(a) and (d).”

The Matrimonial Assets and their value

The first step in the structured approach was the determination of the matrimonial assets and their values. Apart from the matrimonial flat at xxx (“the 3rd matrimonial flat”) which was owned solely by the Wife, the parties had monies in each of their bank accounts as well as CPF monies. Taking into account what I considered to be the appropriate values of each of the assets, I determined the total pool of...

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