JudgeWong Keen Onn
Judgment Date22 January 2016
Neutral Citation[2015] SGFC 157
CourtFamily Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberDivorce Suit No 1171 of 2014
Published date11 February 2016
Hearing Date28 May 2015,03 August 2015,12 August 2015,02 April 2015,23 July 2015
Plaintiff CounselDavid Lee Kay Tuan (Shenton Law Practice LLP)
Defendant CounselWong Pon Tong (Messrs P T Wong)
Subject MatterFamily Law,Matrimonial assets,division,custody, care and control of child,Maintenance,wife child
Citation[2015] SGFC 157
District Judge Wong Keen Onn: Introduction

The Defendant husband has filed an appeal against part of my decision on the division of the matrimonial assets and maintenance for the wife.

The Plaintiff and the Defendant were married on 25 June 1998. There is one child of the marriage, F, (daughter, born on 28 July 1999), now aged 15 years. They have another child C, (female, 20 years old, born on 30 December 1994) from the Plaintiff’s previous marriage, who lived with them. The Plaintiff is 43 years old and had just started work as an xxx. The Defendant husband is 63 years old and is the xxx of a trading company registered in Hong Kong. The parties were living in Shenzhen China until the end of year 2004 when they moved back to the Singapore and the Defendant bought the matrimonial home here. The parties had been living apart from each other since March 2008. On 17 March 2014, the Plaintiff wife filed for divorce on the ground that the marriage had irretrievably broken down as the parties had lived apart for at least 4 years. Interim Judgment was granted on an uncontested basis on 1 July 2014. The ancillary matters were then adjourned to Chambers.

The Ancillary Orders

In respect of the ancillary matters, the parties each initially filed 2 rounds of Affidavitsi. On 30 March 2015, just 2 days prior to the ancillary hearing date, the Defendant filed at a late stage without leave of Court, a third affidavit in reply and included additional documents on two companies, xxx (HK) Pte Ltd and xxx Ltd, and on 2 properties in China. The Plaintiff counsel had no objections to the 3rd affidavit but would like to respond to it. I exercised discretion and allowed the Defendant’s third affidavit to be admitted in as evidence as I was of view that it was relevant to the issues at hand. The matter was adjourned for parties to file in further documents for clarificationii.

Altogether, the Plaintiff wife filed 3 Affidavits of Assets and Means (AOM) on 6 August 2014, 3 February and 5 May 2015 (also referred to as P-1, P-2 and P-3 respectively). The Plaintiff filed the written submissions and two other further submissions, namely PS-1, PS-2, PS-3. The Defendant husband filed 3 Affidavits of Assets and Means (AOMs) on 24 July 2014, 7 October 2014 and 30 March 2015 (which were referred to as D-1, D-2, D-3 respectively) and one Affidavit in Response to Discovery on 23 December 2014 (“Disc D-4”)

After hearingiii the evidence and the submissions from both counsel, I made the following ancillary order:

By Consent, it is ordered that: The Plaintiff and Defendant shall have joint custody of the two children of the marriage, namely F, (daughter, born on 28 July 1999) (also referred to as “the child of the marriage”). The Plaintiff shall have care and control of the said child of the marriage, F, with reasonable access for the Defendant husband.

It is further ordered that: In full and final division of matrimonial assets, the matrimonial flat at xxx shall be transferred to the Plaintiff with no cash consideration and no refund to the Defendant’s CPF account and the Defendant is to pay a sum of $234,126 to Plaintiff within six months from the date of the Final Judgment. The Plaintiff shall be solely responsible for taking over the outstanding housing loan. The Defendant shall pay to the Plaintiff a lump sum maintenance of $43,200 The Defendant shall pay a sum of SGD $ 1,600.00 to the Plaintiff as monthly maintenance for the child F with effect from the date of this Order and thereafter on the 3rd day of each subsequent calendar month. The Defendant shall deposit the monthly maintenance into the Plaintiff’s designated bank account The Joint POSB bank account xxx shall be closed within 1 month of the date of this order and the monies in this account shall be given to the Plaintiff absolutely. Save as above, the parties are to retain their assets in their respective sole names and there shall be no further claims against each other for the division of assets. The Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Family Justice Courts, Singapore under section 31 of the Family Justice Act 2014 is empowered to execute, sign, or endorse all necessary documents relating to matters contained in this Order on behalf of either party, should either party fail to do so within seven (7) days of the written request being made to the party There shall be liberty to apply No order as to costs

The Defendant husband has appealed against part of my decision, namely, the division of the matrimonial flat and the assets, the wife’s maintenance and the Registrar’s empowerment clause. I now set out the reasons for my decision in these main issues under appeal.

Custody, Care and control of the child of the marriage

Both the parties agreed to have joint custody of the child of the marriage, F, with the Plaintiff wife having care and of the said child and reasonable access to the Defendant husbandiv. It was not in dispute that the Plaintiff was the primary care giver of the child throughout the marriagev. From the evidence, I find that giving care and control of the child to the Plaintiff would be in the best interests of the child. In the circumstances, the Court made a consent order on joint custody for the child F and care and control given to the Plaintiff wife and reasonable access to the Defendant.

As for the Plaintiff’s other older daughter, C, it was not in dispute that there was an existing valid foreign court order dated 27 June1996 that granted care and control of the older daughter C to the Plaintiff upon her first divorcevi. It was more likely than not that the child C did live together with the Plaintiff and the Defendant as a member of the family as the Defendant had claimed that he had contributed towards the support of C during the marriagevii. Hence, I accepted the Plaintiff’s version that this child, C, was accepted by the Defendant as a member of their family and had since 1999 lived together with the Plaintiff and the Defendant. I note that the child C is already 20 years of age and would be reaching 21 years soon. However, in view of the foreign court order, I decided that it was not appropriate to make any further order for custody, care and control of the Plaintiff’s other older daughter, C.

The division of the matrimonial flat and other assets The Plaintiff’s (wife’s) position

In her 3 written submissions, the Plaintiff (wife) submitted on the followingviii: She had assessed the total pool of matrimonial assets to be worth about $3,946,067.90 and that it comprised the Plaintiff’s assets of $33,835.71 and the Defendant’s assets worth about $3,912,232.29 (comprising CPF monies, 2 bank accounts, 1 bank account in China, shares in xxx, xxx and in xxx (HK) Private Ltd (also referred to as “X Tech”)). In computing the value of the Defendant’s 38 % shareholding in xxx (HK) Pte Ltd, the Plaintiff’s counsel relied upon the acquisition price of $5.7 million that xxx Ltd had paid for 57.48 % of X Tech shares. Counsel for the Plaintiff submitted that it was public knowledge that xxx had acquired a 57.48% stake in X Tech for $5.7 million in June 2011. Counsel then submitted that the company X Tech should be worth more than $10 million. Based on that share acquisition price and the Defendant’s admission that he owned 38 % of the total shares in X Tech, the Defendant’s shares in the company ought to be worth at least SGD $3.8 million and not $522,500 as alleged by the Defendantix. The plaintiff also said she contended that this sum of RMB 70,000 that the Defendant had withdrawn from his personal account at xxx Bank (as shown in the withdrawal slip) should form part of the matrimonial assets. She disputed the Defendant’s claim that these monies were company funds that he allegedly held for xxx (HK) Pte Ltd. xxx She contended that this sum of RMB70,000 should be added to the pool of assets for division. The Plaintiff wife then asked for at least 35 % of the pool of matrimonial assets to be awarded to her based on her contributions to the marriage. The Plaintiff wife agreed that she did not make any direct contributions towards the acquisition of the matrimonial home at xxx. However, she claimed that since their marriage, she made some indirect financial contributions by paying the property tax, maintenance fees utilities bills and phone bills for the last 10 years using the monthly allowance (of $3,500 from year 2009) that she received from the Defendantx. Also, she was the one who also looked after the children and especially so after she brought the 2 daughters and moved back to Singapore since 2004 while the Defendant had stayed on in Hong Kong SAR. In short, she submitted that she also made indirect non-financial contributions over all these years as she took care of the home and the children since 2004xi. She also asked the Court to draw adverse inferences against the Defendant for failing to make full and frank disclosures of these assets. The Plaintiff wife contended that, besides the division of the matrimonial home, she ought to be entitled to half of the rest of the other matrimonial assets. So she asked for the matrimonial home to be transferred to her without any cash consideration and for the Defendant to pay her an additional sum of $1,405,612.00xii. As for maintenance, the Plaintiff (wife) claimed that her monthly expenses were about $3,930 and the monthly expenses for her child C (from here previous marriage) to be $2,693 and for F (child of this marriage) to be about $3,075 respectivelyxiii. The wife claimed that C had been living with the Defendant and her when she was 1 year oldxiv. Hence, she sought a sum of monthly maintenance of $3,390 for herself, and $2,693 and $3,075 to the 2 children namely C and F respectively. In her second written submissions at Exhibit PS-2 at paragraph 2, she instead sought for herself a lump sum maintenance...

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