Payout to divorcee cut to $1 a month

An elderly man, whose six children have all taken the side of his divorced wife, has achieved a victory in the High Court.

A judge has cut the initial $60,000 lump sum maintenance payment he had to pay his former wife to a nominal $1 a month.

Justice Choo Han Teck found that the circumstances of Mr Chue Hon San, 71, were stacked against him as he no longer worked as a taxi driver and has dim job prospects.

These issues were relevant to the "question of how much maintenance he ought to pay" to his former wife, Madam Wong Yim Yen, also aged 71.

They divorced last year after being wedded for 46 years.

In March, the Family Court ordered that the HDB flat in Bukit Batok in the couple's names be sold, from which Madam Wong would get $259,537.

About $119,230 from the flat's sale was returned to their daughter Alicia Israel, being Central Provident Fund monies she had used to help them buy the flat about 10 years ago.

The lower court had explained that Madam Wong's share included the $60,000 lump sum maintenance and her portion of the couple's matrimonial assets.

Mr Chue, who represented himself, appealed against the decision to the High Court, seeking an increase in his portion to $200,000, to enable him to buy a studio flat.

He said that none of the six children, aged between 40 and 49, were willing to support him given their allegiance to their mother.

Madam Wong, defended by lawyer Adriene Cheong, did not dispute his claim.

Justice Choo, in judgment grounds released yesterday, found the circumstances were relevant to Mr Chue's appeal.

The judge said he might be able to compel the children to support him under the Maintenance of Parents Act but that is a "last resort, to be avoided as far as possible".

He accepted Mr Chue's "financial situation was not the healthiest", given that he was jobless.

"On the other hand, the wife could expect all the children to help her meet her expenses whereas the husband could not expect similar help."

He ruled the $60,000 lump sum payout "inappropriate" and ordered a nominal $1 a month instead.

The $60,000 lump sum was meant to be the total maintenance payout of $1,000 a month over five years to be settled upfront in one go.

The nominal monthly sum awarded would leave the door open for the wife to go back to court and ask for more should circumstances change and the need arise at some point in the future.

Justice Choo's ruling means Madam Wong will get about $200,000 or 54 per cent of the proceeds while Mr Chue will get 46 per cent or $170,000.


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