Apex court chides man over bid to reduce ex-wife's share of $13m in matrimonial assets
A doctor whose share of $13 million in matrimonial assets was raised to 75 per cent by Singapore's highest court in 2020 has failed in a further bid to reduce what his former wife can get.
The man, who had been ordered to pay $2.3 million to his ex-wife, argued that the sum should be reduced as he had trouble selling one of his three properties in Singapore due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Eng Kong Place property was sold in February last year for $2.4 million, which was $1.1 million below valuation.
The man also sought a waiver of interest that he was ordered to pay on the sum, arguing this would be consistent with the Government's policy pertaining to the Covid-19 relief framework.
In a written judgment on Thursday (Jan 20), the Court of Appeal dismissed his bid, calling it "a waste of time and resources" and an abuse of the court process as its earlier decision was final.
"We reiterate that there must be finality in litigation and the Covid-19 situation is merely an excuse raised by the husband to achieve his self-interests," said the three-judge court.
The couple, who have three grown-up children, were married in 1990.
The husband worked as a doctor in a clinic he set up in 1991 and his wife, an accountant, quit her job to help him in the clinic till 2001, when their marriage broke down.
That year, the wife left the matrimonial home for the first time, when the children were between three and eight years old.
The husband closed his clinic in 2003 and became a stay-at-home parent.
The pair were embroiled in numerous legal proceedings. The wife filed multiple complaints against the man, with one resulting in a criminal trial in which he was eventually acquitted.
In 2016, the woman obtained an interim judgment for a divorce on her third application, after two applications in 2001 and 2010 were dismissed.
During the marriage, both parties acquired properties in Singapore and overseas.
The husband said these were purchased with money he had received from his parents, but the wife said they were bought with income from the clinic.
In 2018, the High Court reached a division ratio of 75:25 in favour of the wife. The husband appealed.
In February 2020, the Court of Appeal flipped the ratio, awarding the man 75 per cent of the assets.
The apex court concluded that the assets had been acquired with both clinic income and money from the husband's parents.
The court also found that the husband's indirect contributions, which refer to intangibles such as care of the children, was much more than the wife's.
The wife's 25 per cent share meant that she was entitled to about $3.4 million.
As the assets under her sole name amounted to $1.1 million, the court ordered the husband to pay her the balance of $2.3 million.
In November last year, the husband applied to vary the judgment.
He wanted the balance sum to be reduced because of the alleged loss of $1.1m in seling the Eng Kong Place property, which he claimed was the only way to raise money.
But the court said the man could have got a loan on his other properties or sold them.
The court also noted the man has shares in listed companies as well as his family companies which are of considerable value, and that he has received significant dividends from the shares in his family companies.
The court was not persuaded that the pandemic was a valid reason to absolve him from paying interest on the sum.
The court also took the husband to task for his "absurd" arguments in asking the court to order his ex-wife to sell her shares in his family companies to him.
"If the husband wishes to purchase the shares from the wife now, he has to come to a commercial arrangement with her," said the court.