A wife who wanted to divorce her husband of nearly 17 years claimed that he was abusive towards her, travelled frequently without informing her, refused to visit her relatives, and slept apart from her for several years.
Apart from providing photos of the husband sleeping in the living room in 2016, the wife also claimed that he had an affair way back in 2002 and had thrown a plate of noodles on the floor in 2007 – more than a decade before she applied to the family court for the divorce.
But the husband, a taxi driver, told the court that it was the wife, a remisier, who had asked him to move out of the master bedroom as he had a snoring problem, and denied any unreasonable behaviour on his part.
In judgment grounds made last Friday (15 February), and released on Wednesday (20 February), District Judge Guo Zhuo Neng rejected the divorce, which had been filed on the grounds that the marriage had broken down irretrievably due to the husband’s unreasonable behaviour.
Said the judge, “It was clear to me that the wife wished to leave the marriage…However, in order to grant a divorce, I had to be satisfied that the husband had acted unreasonably…there was insufficient basis to make such a finding.”
Pointing out that “communication in a marriage is a two-way street”, the judge added, “If the wife was not happy with the husband’s behaviour all these years, she should have notified him of how she felt.”
The wife was also ordered to pay the husband $2,000 in costs. She is appealing against the judge’s decision.
The couple got married in July 2001 and have a child aged 11. The wife filed for divorce in May last year. Both parties were not named in judgment grounds.
The wife claimed that the husband was not emotionally supportive of her when she had to take responsibility for financial losses suffered by her clients around January 2016. But the husband claimed that the wife had extravagant habits and had proposed that their flat be sold off to pay her debts, to which he refused. As of February 2016, the wife owned her creditor $295,620.54, the judge noted.
The wife alleged that a year after they got married, the husband went on a biking trip to Hatyai, Thailand. When he returned, he showed her photos which revealed him sitting very closely to a woman and he even had his arm around her in some photos. The couple quarrelled over the photos and he moved out of their home for more than six months, she said.
The wife also claimed that a friend of her husband told her that he went to Penang as he was having an affair with a woman there. The husband denied having another relationship or that he had deserted the wife.
The judge noted there was no evidence submitted to the court to support the wife’s allegations.
The couple went on to have their child in 2007. The wife alleged that the husband threw a fax cable at her that year and also smashed the home phone. But the husband denied the incidents happening, and there was again no evidence in support of the wife’s claims.
The same year, according to the wife, the husband also threw a plate of noodles on the floor in the presence of their then-four-month-old baby. The husband admitting doing so, but said it was because he was angry over how his wife had used the Baby Bonus.
The judge said while the allegation had been made out, it must be put in context. The incident happened more than 10 years prior to the filing for divorce, and the single incident cannot amount to “unreasonable behaviour” justifying a divorce.
The wife also claimed that in March 2017, they got into an argument and her husband threw the pot cover in her direction but it did not hit her. The husband said the wife had thrown the pot cover at him first, and he picked it up and threw it at the floor instead.
The judge found that it was quite unlikely for the pot cover to have missed the wife if the husband had intended for it to hit her.
The wife also alleged that the husband used vulgarities on her and their child, but he denied this. She further claimed having a recording of his “violent outburst” towards the child. But no video was submitted by the wife.
The judge noted that it was hard to give any credibility to the wife’s allegation when there was no evidence given to the court.
While the wife claimed that the husband had not participated in events involving her family since 2008, the husband said he was busy working as a taxi driver.
And while she alleged he went on holidays without informing her, he said he always told her about his trips. The husband had a motorcycle which he rode up at least fortnightly to Johor Bahru. And when he went to Thailand for a holiday last year, he gave their child money for expenses.
Under the Women’s Charter, one of the grounds for a spouse to file for divorce is when the marriage has irretrievably broken down, in that one spouse has behaved in such a way such that the other spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with the other.
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