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TDT v TDS and another appeal and another matter [2016] SGCA 3

Outcome: Appeals allowed


1 The parties appealed against the decision of the Family Division of the High Court on the ancillary matters following a divorce. The issues on appeal include whether the Husband should be ordered to maintain the child (who was born out of wedlock from a previous relationship) and how the shares of a company should be valued.

Court’s Decision:

2 The general position is that the date of the hearing is the date that should be adopted for the purposes of valuing the matrimonial assets. However, the Court retains the discretion to depart from the date of the ancillary matters hearing in determining the value of properties subject to division where this is warranted by the facts. In this case, there was a not negligible possibility that the Husband might have managed the company’s finances to the Wife’s detriment. On the other hand, the Husband had also alleged that the Wife diverted the business of the company. Hence, the shares were valued at a date prior to the breakdown of the marriage: at [50] and [51].

3 A non-biological parent’s duty to maintain a child is provided for under s 70 of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353, 2009 Rev Ed) (“WC”). The first requirement is that the non-biological parent must have voluntarily accepted parental responsibility. This is ultimately a question of fact, taking into account all the relevant circumstances and context. Strong indicators of acceptance into the family would include the changing of the child’s surname to that of the non-parent, or whether the child has been encouraged to address the non-parent in parental terms, such as “father” and “mother” or “dad” and “mum”: at [103] and [104].

4 The second requirement which must be satisfied before a non-parent’s duty to maintain a child arises is the failure of the child’s parents (whether biological or adoptive) to maintain the child. A non-parent who has accepted the child as a member of his or her family will therefore have a duty to provide for the child’s maintenance as long as it appears that in fact the child has not been adequately maintained by his or her parents. Nevertheless, s 70(3) of the WC furnishes the non-parent an avenue to recover the sums expanded on the child from the biological parents:  at [111] and [114].

5 Where a non-parent has accepted a child as a member of his or her family, he or she may not thereafter renege on that acceptance by simply changing his or her mind. However, where a child is taken away from the non-parent in the context of the breakdown of a marriage between the non-parent and the child’s parent, this would cause the non-parent’s duty to cease. In this case, since the marriage had broken down, and the Wife had taken the child away from the Husband, the Husband was not obliged to pay maintenance after the date of Interim Judgment: at [122], [123] and [134].

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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