'Kept male companion' to businesswoman fails in bid to rescind ex-wife's maintenance

Photo of court gavel and scale. (Photo: Thinkstock)

A man who claimed that he has no personal income and was just a “consort” to a lover who was a successful businesswoman has failed in his attempt to rescind a monthly maintenance of $2,000 for his ex-wife.

The 55-year-old man’s claims cut no ice with a family court judge who found that he was “a man of means who appeared to be hiding behind the label of being (his lover’s) ‘consort’ and could in fact afford to continue to pay the monthly maintenance to the (54-year-old former) wife”.

In the grounds of decision for the case released on Friday (21 September), District Judge Cheryl Koh said, “In my view, even if the husband is to be believed, instead of spending his time being a ‘consort’ languishing in a comfortable lifestyle and working as a director in a company for free, he could spend his time productively to earn income and fulfil his existing maintenance obligations to the (former) wife.”

The court heard that the man and his ex-wife have two adult children. The man was the sole breadwinner and his ex-wife was a homemaker. They were married in 1990 and divorced in 2015.

The man got into a relationship with his current partner – a businesswoman who runs a chain of facial spas – around 2001. He has two other children – now 14 and 11 – with his partner. According to the man’s ex-wife, the man would appear with his partner on television advertisements on Channel 8 as a family. He and his partner would also portray themselves as a family on social media.

The names of the man, his ex-wife and partner were not revealed in court documents.

In 2012, the man agreed to pay his then wife a monthly maintenance of $2,000, on top of paying for other expenses. In 2015, the man started divorce proceedings against her.

While the man was granted the divorce so that he could marry his partner, the court noted that he is still currently the “consort” and has not remarried.

Around February this year, the ex-wife took the man to court for failing to pay her maintenance for two months. But in March, the man applied for maintenance to his ex-wife to be rescinded.

He alleged he was the “male equivalent of a mistress” or a “kept male companion” to his long-term partner. He said he was being maintained by his partner in a Sentosa Cove home with a Ferrari paid for by her.

While he owned various upmarket properties with her – including a St. Regis apartment in Tanglin Road, a unit at The Clift in McCallum Street, a home at The Orion in Orange Grove Road, and a few apartments at Bedok Residences – the man claimed they were paid for by his partner, with all rental income managed by her.

The man’s 1 per cent share in his partner’s company was divested during his divorce proceedings. He works as a director in her company but alleged that his director’s fees were managed by his partner.

With no income of his own, he asserted that he could not pay maintenance to his former wife. All his expenses were paid for by his partner, and he said he had to borrow money from her to pay for his former wife’s maintenance.

According to court documents, the man said, “All I need to do is keep (the partner) happy as her consort…. Here is the danger: if the day should come that (the partner) tires of me, I will no longer be her consort and be out on the streets”.

The man also submitted to the court a private investigator’s report to show that his former wife did not require maintenance as she was using money to play mahjong.

In her grounds of decision, Judge Koh pointed out that the man’s income declared to the tax authorities comprised his director’s salary and rental income, which together amounted to at least $10,000 a month. His annual salary from 2013 to 2015 was between $113,698 and $122,796.

The judge said, “If (the man) chose to let (his partner) manage his declared income, that was his own private arrangement with (her) but it did not mean he could not afford monthly maintenance of $2,000. This is particularly so when he claimed that all of his expenses are being paid for by (his partner).”

Even if it were true that his partner did not give him access to his declared income, the judge added, he could take legal action to recover his money.

“If (the man) cannot offend (his partner) and has to keep her happy as her ‘consort’, he could seek alternative forms of employment commensurate with his income capacity and earn his own income.

“Instead, he chooses to spend his time working as a director in (her) company for free, whilst being maintained by (her) in a Sentosa Cove property and driving a Ferrari, when he knows there is a pre-existing court order against him since 2012 (which he had consented to) for monthly maintenance for (his former wife).”

There was also no evidence that the ex-wife was squandering beyond her means or getting into debt on mahjong, the judge said.

The man had been the breadwinner since marrying his ex-wife, and the latter was a homemaker who has been dependent on his financial support for close to 28 years, she noted.

“The two children of the marriage are now adults. The (former) wife suffered from colon cancer since 2010. Surely, (she) is entitled to engage in leisure activities of her own choice and the (former) husband cannot use mahjong as an excuse to avoid his maintenance obligations.”

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