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Foo Ah Yan v Chiam Heng Chow [2012] SGCA 15

Outcome: Appeal allowed.


1 The Wife appealed against a decision of the High Court ordering her Husband to pay her $75,000 in lump sum maintenance. The order was made in the context of proceedings ancillary to the parties’ divorce.

Court’s Decision:

2 The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered the Husband to pay the wife $126,000 in lump sum maintenance.

3 Section 114 of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353, 2009 Rev Ed) (“WC”) sets out a non-exhaustive list of factors to be considered when ordering maintenance, as well as the guiding principle of financial preservation, which requires the wife to be maintained at a standard, which is, to a reasonable extent, commensurate with the standard of living she had enjoyed during the marriage: at [12] and [13].

4 However, a former wife must, where possible, exert reasonable efforts to secure gainful employment and contribute to preserve her pre-breakdown lifestyle. Although the husband is prima facie obliged to maintain his former wife beyond his retirement and up to the former wife’s remarriage or the death of either party, the former wife who has assets of her own should not expect a full subsidy for her lifestyle: at [16] and [17].

5 There is no broad proposition to the effect that one who has not maintained his wife during the course of the marriage need not do so after the divorce. The duty of a husband to maintain his wife during the marriage, as provided by s 69(1) of the WC, and the obligation to provide maintenance to a former wife under s 113 of the WC are driven by separate forces: at [21] and [22].

The full text of the decision can be found here.

This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.

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