Singapore

Husband should not get any part of $2 million marital flat, judge rules

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He reverses family court decision that gave man 18% as part of formula used when splitting matrimonial assets

A judge has ruled that a husband should get nothing from a divorcing couple's $2.05 million flat, taking the unusual step of departing from the usual formula when splitting matrimonial assets.

Justice Choo Han Teck reversed a family court decision that gave the 46-year-old husband $363,960, according to a formula which gave him 18 per cent.

Explaining his decision in his written judgment on Tuesday, he said: "Mathematical formulations sometimes create deeper conundrums instead of solutions when they are stated in pure logical forms, unconnected to the lives the formulae were intended to benefit.

"The village barber cuts the hair of every man who does not cut his own hair is the famous statement that is completely logical until one asks: Does he cut his own hair?"

The couple, who were married for around four years and have a child who is now six years old, lived in the condominium unit, which had been paid for by the 40-year-old wife and her father.

She was an administrative officer and the husband sold insurance.

As part of their divorce, both parties agreed to keep to themselves all the assets that had been in their own names. That left only the matrimonial flat to be divided.

The wife's lawyer Foo Soon Yien argued that the husband had contributed nothing, including financially, to the buying of the flat.

FAMILY CAR & SOFA SET

The husband's lawyer Tan Yew Fai, however, pointed to the family car and sofa set the husband had bought, and highlighted his efforts in raising their child.

But Justice Choo found that he failed to show how his efforts had directly or indirectly helped the wife to acquire the flat.

As part of their arguments, both lawyers referred to the precedent set in the 2015 Court of Appeal case of ANJ v ANK, which the lower court judge had applied to obtain the 18 per cent award for the husband.

Justice Choo decided that case is not a rule for every case involving the division of matrimonial assets and involving the weighing of direct and indirect contributions.

He stressed the objective should be to achieve a just and equitable division.

"There are unusual cases, such as the present, in which the formula is not to be applied," said Justice Choo.

The judge accepted that the husband's non-financial or indirect contributions, such as caring for the child, should be recognised.

"The (husband) contributed nothing to the acquisition of the flat, and as for the remaining assets, he is keeping all he contributed," Judge Choo explained.

"The choice between letting the (wife) keep the flat that she acquired by her own efforts alone, and giving $363,960 to the (husband) by means of a mathematical calculation, to me seems clear - he should not be entitled to that money."

COURT & CRIME