Woman fails in bid to claim maintenance

Woman fails in bid to claim maintenance

SINGAPORE - A former business consultant has failed to get a cent in monthly maintenance from her ex-husband as a court ruled she had enough to live on after their assets of almost $9.3 million were split.

Ms Chan Wing Sun, 49, had claimed that her lecturer husband, Professor Anthony Guo, 52, used to maintain her on $6,500 a month when they were married.

But High Court Justice Belinda Ang made clear that an applicant for maintenance must "appreciate the new realities that flow from the breakdown of a marriage and should not expect to get all she asks for".

In judgment grounds released on Monday, she added: "The applicant is expected to exert reasonable efforts to secure gainful employment and contribute to preserve her pre-breakdown lifestyle."

The Chinese couple's total disclosed assets were $9.28 million, of which Ms Chan was given 41 per cent, or $3.8 million.

The couple married here in 2002 but lived apart after the former Nanyang Technological University lecturer went to work in Monash University's Malaysia campus as an engineering professor seven years later. He filed for divorce and interim judgment was given in 2011.

At issue before the High Court was how much each should get from the division of their joint matrimonial assets and what he should pay her in maintenance.

Prof Guo was the sole breadwinner and Ms Chan did not take up a full-time job when she came to Singapore from Beijing in 2004.

The pair set up a home-based business consultancy for Chinese firms in 2004. Emboldened by its success, they went on "a property-buying spree" in 2007.

Justice Ang found that Ms Chan, through her business savvy, helped to raise the value of their joint assets more than Prof Guo could have achieved alone.

The judge also criticised both for their submissions - faulting Prof Guo for unfounded claims and taking issue with Ms Chan for raising irrelevant matters.

Prof Guo, represented by lawyer Yap Teong Liang, argued against any maintenance and claimed that his former wife had personal wealth and was capable of making her own living. Ms Chan, defended by lawyer Tan Cheng Kiong, contested the case.

Justice Ang found Ms Chan's claims "without merit" and cited a past apex court precedent that called for a "common-sense, holistic approach" to maintenance.

"There is no denying that (Ms Chan) is an able and enterprising individual with good business acumen," she said. "I am satisfied that despite her age, she would be able to enjoy economic independence to support her lifestyle."

This article was published on April 17 in The Straits Times.

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