Zee Sook Meng v Foon Man Kong @ Phoon Mun Kwong

JudgeDoris Lai-Chia Lee Mui
Judgment Date07 March 2000
Neutral Citation[2000] SGDC 8
Citation[2000] SGDC 8
Published date19 September 2003
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)



The Petitioner and the Respondent were married at the Singapore Marriage Registry on 22 November 1985. They have two children namely P (m) born on 17 April 1988 (11 years) and D (m) born on 29 January 1992 (8 years). On 25 March 1998 the Petitioner filed a divorce petition against the Respondent based on the Respondent’s unreasonable behaviour. The petition was initially contested by the Respondent who filed an answer and cross-petition on 29 May 1998. On 21 January 1999 the Petitioner was granted leave to file an amended divorce petition and the Respondent was granted leave to withdraw his answer on 28 January 1999. The Petitioner filed an amended divorce petition based on three years separation with the Respondent’s consent alleging that the parties had lived separately since the middle of 1993. A decree nisi was granted on 9 February 1999 based on the amended petition.

2. On 25 May 1999 the Petitioner filed a Summons-In-Chambers application in which she asked for interim maintenance of $2,000 per month for herself and on 25 June 1999 the Respondent was ordered to pay a sum of $600 per month with effect from 1 February 1999 as interim maintenance for the Petitioner.

3. I interviewed the two children on 12 January 2000. On 13 January 2000 after hearing submissions of both counsels I made the following orders:-

(1) Parties to have joint custody of the two children with care and control to the Respondent and reasonable access to the Petitioner;

(2) The Respondent shall continue to pay to the Petitioner a sum of $600 per month as maintenance, such sum to be payable on the first of each month. Payments to be made into the Petitioner’s POSB account;

(3) The Petitioner shall be entitled to a sum of $300,000 being her share of the matrimonial assets;

(4) Each party to bear his/her own costs;

(5) Parties be at liberty to apply.

4. The Petitioner being dissatisfied with orders (1) and (3) above have now appealed against it.

Custody of the two children

5. The Petitioner alleged that the Respondent, a National Institute of Education Lecturer, does not have much time for the children. She claimed the Respondent would return late two evenings in a week as he played badminton on those days. She also alleged that he would go for coffee sessions with his friends on some evenings after 9.30 p.m. and that on some weekends he had to work too.

6. The Petitioner claimed that the Respondent would leave the main care of the children to the maid with little supervision and that in the circumstances she should be granted the custody, care and control of the two children.

7. The Respondent claimed that he usually returned home by 5.30 pm. Since January 1999 he has started playing badminton once or twice a week from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm and would reach home by 8 pm as the children needed him to guide them in their homework. He needed the badminton sessions to release him from his work pressure and to keep himself physically fit. He confirmed that he would occasionally have a cup of coffee with his friends at a nearby coffee shop after he had supervised his children’s homework as he needed an hour’s break to relax himself mentally.

8. The Respondent on the other hand alleged that the Petitioner a teacher, is a very hot-tempered person and that whenever she had problems with her pupils, the children and he felt the pressure and kept quiet at the dining table. He claimed to have been a curriculum specialist for 20 years and knew how to discipline his children and would set proper times for the children to watch TV programmes and play computer games.

9. Both children were interviewed by me. The elder child P, age 11 confirmed that the Respondent would usually return home and have his dinner with the children and also that he played badminton twice a week i.e. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. P also confirmed that the Respondent helps him in his homework. Both children indicated they love both their parents. Although P stated he would like both the Petitioner and the Respondent to live with him at Lagoon View (his present home) he was not comfortable with the suggestion that the Petitioner move back to live with them at Lagoon View while the Respondent move out instead. Both children indicated they would prefer to remain at Lagoon View with their father, the Respondent.

10. The Petitioner had moved out of the matrimonial home at Lagoon View in early 1998 almost two years ago. Although the Petitioner had explained in her affidavit filed on 1 October 1999 that she did not take her children along with her because she had nowhere to go and did not wish to subject them to further emotional and psychological stress, she had at paragraph 6(g) stated that she "know the Respondent loved the children and was quite sure that they would at least be taken care of by the Respondent".

11. S.125 (2) of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353) provides that:-

"In deciding in whose custody a child should be placed, the paramount consideration shall be the welfare of the child and subject to this, the court shall have regard –

(a) to the wishes of the parents of the child; and

(b) to the wishes of the child, where he or she is of an age to express an independent...

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