Court denied bid for more money from woman who gambled away divorce payout

She had consented to lump-sum maintenance but gambled it all away

A woman who gambled away a A$200,000 divorce payout has lost a bid to make her former spouse pay her more money.

District Judge Suzanne Chin said she was not convinced by Madam Nora Ali's claims that she had been pressured by her former husband into accepting the lump-sum maintenance awarded in 2010.

Lump-sum payouts instead of regular monthly maintenance payments are generally approved by the courts if both parties consent. The option allows the couple to make a clean break.

"(Madam Nora) appears to have received the monies agreed upon in the consent order and very unfortunately had, through gambling, lost all of it shortly thereafter," noted District Judge Chin in judgment grounds released last week.

Madam Nora, a Singaporean, married Swiss-born investment executive Hans Goetti in Zurich in 1991 and the couple moved here two years later. She then left for Australia to take care of their Singaporean daughter's education. The marriage broke down over time and Mr Goetti sought a divorce in 2010 that she did not contest. Both parties agreed to an order in relation to ancillary matters, which included her maintenance.

Lawyer Lucy Netto, representing Madam Nora, said her client had applied in September last year to set aside the order. She argued that her former husband had agreed at the time to give her A$200,000 with a balance of A$350,000 once his "business picked up". She claimed that under the consent order, Mr Goetti promised to provide for her for the rest of her life and give her money whenever she needed.

Madam Nora also told the court that she was drinking heavily at the time of the divorce and was heavily medicated, leaving her in an unfit state "to rely on her consent".

Mr Goetti denied her claims. His lawyer Gulab Sobhraj told the court in June that her "massive and reckless spending habit" was one of the reasons that led to the divorce, adding that huge sums of money were "whittled away on her gambling sprees".

District Judge Chin found that Madam Nora's allegations that her spouse had taken advantage of her were "not substantiated", including her claim that she was then under heavy medication.

The judge also noted that Madam Nora had signed the consent order before a notary public who would have asked her if she understood what she was signing. She added that Madam Nora had done nothing for three years to address her concerns after the order was made while Mr Goetti had "remarried and moved on with his life".

"If this application to set aside the Consent were to be allowed, (Mr Goetti) would be unfairly prejudiced," added District Judge Chin.

vijayan@sph.com.sg