Singapore

Singaporean couple locked in $52m divorce case

A local couple are locked in a marital split in Canada involving one of the highest sums for a Singaporean case abroad.

At stake in the split-up, set to be settled in a 30-day trial next January, is some C$50 million (S$52 million) in properties in Canada, Singapore and even Thailand.

Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick said in judgment grounds issued in Vancouver last week: “The family is very wealthy and has a lavish lifestyle. The financial engine for that wealth has been the (husband)’s Singapore medical practice, which by all accounts has been very successful.”

She ordered the husband to pay interim spousal and child support as quantified and some C$400,000 interim distribution from his frozen Canadian bank account.

The couple, who were born and bred in Singapore, started an affair in 1984 when they were both already married. They had their first child three years later.

They rekindled their relationship in 1993, divorced their spouses two years later and married in Singapore in 1997.

Six years later, they relocated to Canada and, by then, had a second child, a girl who is now a teen – and the subject of child support.

The judge noted that the doctor never did emigrate to Canada despite his initial intention, as “it was more practical and lucrative for him to continue his medical practice in Singapore”, while the family lived in Canada.

He supported the family with income taxed in Singapore and visited it from time to time.

The judge observed that over the years, the wife and daughter had “enjoyed the many benefits of Canadian society, including (the daughter’s) attendance at the local public high school”.

Justice Fitzpatrick listed the large real estate portfolio at stake acquired over the years that included a large home in West Vancouver, a downtown Vancouver condominium unit and three other condo units elsewhere. There is also a ski chalet, a ranch, five properties in Singapore, in addition to the unit where the medical practice operates in Singapore.

“All told, the estimated value of these properties is C$50 million,” she said.

The 53-year-old housewife had filed for divorce last year in Canada, seeking a parenting order in relation to their daughter, spousal and child support, property division, and a protection order against her husband.

The court there in August last year issued the protection order and a Mareva injunction ordering an asset freeze pending the case outcome.

The husband failed in his application before Justice Fitzpatrick to set aside the protection order.

The judge also dismissed his bid to set aside the Mareva injunction with some amendments.

The court recorded that the husband had started two proceedings in Singapore – one to remove the caveats on the Singapore properties and the other for divorce.

“The overall tenor of the (husband)’s current evidence is that he is adamant that the family issues should be resolved in Singapore,” said Justice Fitzpatrick.

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