Yu Sau Ki Grace v Choo Kwong - Wah David

JudgeHamidah Bte Ibrahim
Judgment Date17 March 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGDC 10
Published date19 September 2003
Citation[2000] SGDC 10
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)



1. The Petitioner ( wife ) and the Respondent ( husband ) were married at the Registry of Marriages in Singapore on the 28/10/1985. There are 2 children to the marriage, both daughters, aged 9 and 5. The wife petitioned for the marriage to be dissolved on the ground that it had irretrievably broken down because of the husband’s unreasonable conduct. This was initially contested by the husband when he filed his answer and cross-petition. However, her petition eventually became uncontested when he withdrew his answer and cross-petition. A decree nisi was hence pronounced on the 22/01/1999 with the usual consequential order that the ancillaries be adjourned to be heard in chambers.

2. On the 24/01/2000, the ancillaries were heard before me and after hearing the parties, I made the following orders:-

1) Petitioner is granted custody, care and control of the 2 children of the marriage namely L and O with reasonable access to the Respondent as follows:

i) From 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm on any 2 weekdays from Monday to Friday and Respondent to give at least 1 day notice to the Petitioner and

ii) Every Sunday from 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm ,

2) Respondent to pay $1,200 per month as maintenance for the 2 children only with effect 1/02/2000 and thereafter on the 1st of each month.

3) Respondent to pay $100 per month as maintenance for the Petitioner with effect 1/02/2000 and thereafter on the 1st of each month.

4) The matrimonial property at [address] is to be sold in the open market within 6 months and the proceeds less outstanding loan to HDB, expenses relating to sale, refund with interest to parties CPF’s accounts to be released absolutely to Petitioner.

5) Upon sale and refund to the Respondent’s CPF account, there shall be a charge on Respondent’s CPF monies in the sum of $70,000 in favour of the Petitioner.

6) Usual CPF clauses to apply.

7) Costs fixed at $1,000.

3. The wife has appealed against paragraphs 3,4 & 5 of this order while the husband has appealed against paragraphs 1,2,4 and 5.

4. The wife sought sole custody, care and control of the 2 daughters. The children are currently living with her in the matrimonial home. The husband had left them in August 1998 and since then the parties have been living apart. The wife’s counsel submitted that the 2 daughters, being only 9 and 5 years of age, were fairly young and attached to their mother. The wife works as a school teacher and typical of most working mothers, she had employed a maid to look after them while she is at work.

5. On the other hand, the husband’s stand on custody appeared to be somewhat confused. In his affidavit of 17/05/99, he said ( at paragraph 15 ) that the eldest daughter O was very attached to him and as such he wanted custody of this daughter. He was prepared to agree to L, the younger child, remaining with her mother. However, he did not set out any ground to demonstrate how the children’s best interests would be served if O were to be placed under his custody and why it was necessary to split up the children. Subsequently, in his affidavit of 25/8/1999 ( at paragraph 17 ) he asked for reasonable access to the 2 daughters only and thereby conceding that they should remain in the custody, care and control of their mother. This position was then changed in his last affidavit of 2/11/1999 wherein he asked for joint custody and at the hearing of the ancillaries this was his stand i.e. joint custody with care and control to the wife.

6. In my opinion, the husband’s obvious half-hearted attempt to obtain joint custody reflected the degree of care and concern he had for his children. Obviously, by not asking for care and control he realised that he could not look after them and yet in asking for joint custody, he was not able to convince me as to why this ought to be granted. On the matter of access, he was not specific as to the days or hours which he wanted except to say that he wanted reasonable notice because of the need to attend to urgent work matters. While no doubt it is important for him to attend to work, he should have considered too that his 2 young children needed a fixed and settled routine with regard to access.

7. Judging from the matters raised in the petition and the affidavits filed, it was clear that there was a lot of acrimony and bitterness between the parties. I did not think that they would be able to co-operate with each other and therefore decided that this would not be an appropriate case for joint-custody. I accordingly ordered that the wife was to have sole custody, care and control of both daughters with reasonable access to be given to their father.

8. On the issue of maintenance, it was brought to my attention that on the 28/08/1998 the husband in maintenance summons no.4000/98 had been ordered to pay $1,110 per month as maintenance for the 2 children only. The court was not informed as to why there was no order for the wife. In any event, the wife was now seeking maintenance of $1,500 per month for the 2 children and $300 per month for herself.

9. The wife who is 38 years old was a teacher earning $1,650 per month. She also receives $500 a month as a private tutor. The husband is a partner in an architectural firm of 2 known as Pearl Architects. This company started only in September 1998. He claimed that the practice is young, he was just starting out and that the economic down turn had affected him severely. His average drawing was barely $1,000 a month and with tuition he gets another $800 per month, bringing his total monthly income to $1,800 per month. The wife did not believe that the husband was only earning this sum. However, although she protested that he is capable of earning more, in the same breath, she denounces...

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