Man has to pay ex-wife $6 million after apex court accepts his appeal in part to reduce total matrimonial assets' value

SINGAPORE - The Court of Appeal ordered a man to pay his former wife $6 million after allowing his appeal in part to reduce the value of total matrimonial assets to $35 million in their divorce settlement.

The woman is now entitled to about $11.6 million worth of joint assets, including the matrimonial home valued at $3.95 million and other assets worth $1.7 million.

This came after the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court judge's earlier decision that the couple's total matrimonial assets should be divided 67:33 in favour of the husband, who is a co-founder of a venture capital fund.

The woman had also appealed against the High Court decision. In her case, she had sought to have the weightage between their direct and indirect contributions to their assets changed to 50:50, from the High Court Judge's original weightage of 60:40, in favour of the husband.

According to judgment documents released on Thursday (Jan 10), the couple had been married for 17 years and have two children.

The woman, who had worked in senior executive roles at various banks, filed for divorce in September 2010 after the man unilaterally slashed the monthly maintenance for the family by a third to $5,000.

She had found out earlier in June that her husband had bought an apartment in Shanghai with his mistress named as a joint owner.

Both of them appealed against a High Court decision in November 2017 to split their matrimonial assets, valued at $38 million at the time, 67:33 in favour of the man.

This sum was reduced to $35 million in the latest ruling, after the Court of Appeal allowed the man's appeal in part.

The three-judge Court of Appeal, comprising High Court Justice Belinda Ang and Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Judith Prakash, found that the husband had acquired additional assets after November 2011, the month an interim judgment was granted.

This sum, amounting to $6.1 million, should not have been included in the pool of matrimonial assets to be divided, the judges ruled.

However, as they found that the husband had not provided a full and frank disclosure of his assets, they valued the couple's assets at 10 per cent higher than the disclosed sum.

This ultimately contributed to the $35 million sum, of which $4.6 million was from the woman.

The court also ordered the man to pay his former wife $11,000 every month for the maintenance of their children. He must also cover 75 per cent of the children's education expenses and the first child's growth hormone expenses.

The man's lawyers earlier contended that these expenses should be divided equally between him and his former wife. They also argued that the expenses the High Court judge had adopted for calculation of the maintenance sum were too high.

His former wife would "thereby be significantly enriched by the ancillary proceedings" if the judges did not accept his appeal for the division of matrimonial assets, said the lawyers.

"The 'sheer amount of assets that the wife would receive from the division of assets makes it fair and equitable for both parties to share the children's expenses equally'," they argued in court documents.

The three judges, however, saw no basis on which to overturn the High Court judge's decision.

"The division of the matrimonial assets should not be a consideration that affects the determination of maintenance for the children," the judges said in their judgment papers.

They also dismissed the rest of the appeals by the man and his former wife against the original High Court decision.

They ruled that none of their arguments warranted a change in the way their matrimonial assets was to be divided.

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