Twiss, Christopher James Hans v Twiss, Yvonne Prendergast

CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeChao Hick Tin JA
Judgment Date02 October 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGCA 52
Citation[2015] SGCA 52
Hearing Date09 September 2015
Published date06 October 2015
Docket NumberCivil Appeal No 22 of 2015
Plaintiff CounselTan Xuan Qi Dorothy (PKWA Law Practice LLC)
Defendant CounselIsaac Tito Shane, Justin Chan Yew Loong and Zee Ning En Jasmine Mildred (Tito Isaac & Co LLP)
Subject MatterFamily Law,Matrimonial assets,Division
Chao Hick Tin JA (delivering the grounds of decision of the court):

This was the husband’s appeal in relation to the questions of division of matrimonial assets and maintenance of the wife following the grant of an interim judgment for divorce. The judge below (“the Judge”) had ordered that (i) the matrimonial home and the sale proceeds of a Malaysian property, which were the only assets up for division, be given entirely to the wife, and (ii) the husband pay the wife maintenance in the sum of $4,000 a month. The husband was dissatisfied on both counts.

Having heard parties, we allowed the appeal in part. We affirmed the Judge’s order that the husband pay the wife maintenance in the sum of $4,000 a month but ordered that the assets be divided instead, in the proportions of 75% to the wife and 25% to the husband. We now explain in greater detail our decision to allow the appeal in relation to the division of matrimonial assets. We do so with a view to reaffirm the principles and approach set out in this court’s recent decision of ANJ v ANK [2015] 4 SLR 1043 (“ANJ v ANK”).

Background facts

The husband is 49 years old and the wife is 51. They are both UK citizens and they were married there on 4 August 1989. They have two sons: the older son is 21 years old while the younger son is 19. The husband filed a writ for divorce in July 2008 and interim judgment was granted two years later in June 2010. The marriage spanned about 20 years.

At the hearing before us, Mr Tito Isaac, appearing for the wife, put forward a version of the facts which Miss Dorothy Tan, appearing for the husband, did not object to and which we therefore accepted as true. In 1991, not long after the parties were married, the husband moved to Hong Kong for work. The wife gave up her job to follow him. In 1994, the older son was born. In April 1995, when the wife was pregnant with the younger son and the older son was 10 months old, the husband had to relocate for work once again, this time to Seattle. Again, the family moved with him. The younger son was born in 1996, and when he was just 10 days old, the husband lost his job and the family was compelled to move to Geneva. In 1997, the family moved one last time, to Singapore.

If the first decade of the marriage was characterised by continual geographical displacement, the second was defined by the husband’s infidelities. In 2000, when the sons were five and three years old, the husband left the family for his first mistress, returning after six months. In 2004, the husband left for his second mistress. This time, he stayed out for a year before returning home. Finally, in 2007, the husband embarked on his third affair. On this occasion, he left and never came back.

The matrimonial assets

Before the Judge, it was agreed that each party would keep the assets held in their own names. That left two assets to be divided. The first was the matrimonial home. This was registered in the parties’ joint names. Its value was approximately $3.8 million, with an outstanding loan of $536,103.

The second was a property in Malaysia that had been sold at some point prior to the proceedings before the Judge. The proceeds from the sale, converted from Malaysian to local currency, amounted to $287,802. The husband said that this entire sum was kept by the wife and she did not seem to dispute this.

The Judge’s decision

The Judge gave his decision in...

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77 cases
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