Court dismisses woman’s bid to punish ex for lost photo album | The New Paper

Court dismisses woman’s bid to punish ex for lost photo album

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A divorcee who gave up her marriage of almost three decades may now also have lost a collection of memories, after the High Court dismissed her unusual legal bid seeking the return of a family photo album.

The case followed the June 2016 divorce of a couple - who cannot be identified but are believed to be around 60 - which saw a 50-50 division of all their matrimonial assets including their $3.7 million matrimonial home in Toh Crescent, Changi.

When the woman went to the property last December, she could not find the prized yellow album and applied to court again, claiming her former husband had breached a High Court order made last year on ancillary matters and asset distribution following the divorce.

She claimed a clause in the order prescribed that he return her personal belongings, including the photos at the property.

The High Court dismissed her move, ruling the court order on which the woman based her action was not "sufficiently clear" to enable the court to punish the former spouse for contempt.

"There is neither a stipulated time nor sufficient clarity on how the return of the items is to be effected," said Justice Debbie Ong in oral decision grounds released last week.

"The husband interpreted the order to mean he was not to keep the items and the wife could retrieve them as she had access to the Toh Crescent property."

The former husband deposed to the court that he had asked their daughter - one of their two children - to pack his former wife's items, but she had disposed of some items including the photo album, being unaware that her mother wanted it.

The judge did not find that the husband had intended to breach the order, which was a necessary element to have sustained a court contempt charge.

Justice Ong found it "likely" the man was unable to locate the items and their daughter could have disposed of them.

She said permission had been granted for the woman to start court contempt proceedings as there was a prima facie case, given the items had not been returned.

"However, considering the context of how the Order came to be (made)... and the facts surrounding the whereabouts of the items, the wife's action in bringing these committal proceedings has undermined the original intent and spirit of the Order," said Justice Ong.