FCMC 13094 / 2012
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
NUMBER 13094 OF 2012
J U D G M E N T
1. This is an application by a Petitioner wife for interim maintenance pending suit pursuant to s.3 Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance Cap 192 (MPPO) and interim interim maintenance for the two children of the family under s.5 of the same ordinance. This matter is being dealt with on an urgent basis to cover the maintenance requirements for the summer monthsand the intention is that a full maintenance pending suit hearing shall take place as scheduled on the 3 September 2013. Issues relatingto interim housing and other matters will be dealt with then – if there is no agreement in the meantime.
The main issues
2. The main issue to be determined is how much should the husband pay to the wife for her interim interim provision and that of thechildren over the summer months? He has offered the sum of HK$12,000 for the month of June and HK$15,000 for July. In addition thehusband has offered to undertake to continue to pay for the rent on the former matrimonial home, utility bills, the children’sschool fees, their school trips, other school related expenses and the fees for any extracurricular activities that they currentlyenjoy. The wife for her part seeks HK$50,000 per month for herself and the children in addition to the undertakings set out above.
3. The parties married in September 2001 and the original divorce petition was issued by the wife on the 4 September 2012. This wasinitially defended. Sensibly the parties agreed to compromise this aspect of the case and by virtue of a court order dated the 5December 2012 the suit has proceeded on the basis of mild unreasonable behaviour particulars. There have also been some issues withrespect to the children – most of which have subsequently been agreed.
4. The parties are both French and the husband is employed on an expatriate basis. He is 40 years old and he works for a well knowncorporate. The wife for her part is a part time freelance designer. She is 38 years old. The children are aged 10 and 8 years oldrespectively. They are both boys. They presently attend an International School. During the marriage the parties have lived in France,Hong Kong and Singapore.
Maintenance pending suit
5. The law is well known and not in dispute. Section 3 MPPO Cap192 states that the only governing principle is that the court shall make such order as it considers reasonable in all of thecircumstances of the case. Consequently applications such as these are approached on a broad-brush basis. In this instance I am onlyasked to make provision for the next few months only. As I have said there will be a full maintenance pending suit hearing in September.
How much maintenance should the husband pay to the wife as interim interim maintenance pending suit for herself and interim interiminterim maintenance for the children?
6. Immediately following the breakdown of the marriage the husband and wife each allegedly withdrew large sums of money out of theirjoint accounts and paid it into their sole accounts. The wife’s case is that the husband withdrew SGD180,000 out of their jointaccount in Singapore and that in addition he stopped paying his salary and bonus into the parties’ joint account in Hong Kong.In August 2012 she then transferred the sum of HK$880,000 out of a joint bank account and paid it into an account in her sole name.She says that she has been drawing on monies from this account since then to supplement her income for her own additional expenditureand that of the boys. She has also been working on a freelance basis, but her salary is fairly limited. She presently has HK$514,000in that account. Thus she has spent approximately HK$366,000 to date. In addition the husband has been meeting all of the generalexpenses as set out above. The parties’ domestic helper left the family as at the end of May 2013. Prior to the end of May thehusband had been giving money to the domestic helper to buy groceries and other household items for the family.
7. The husband presently earns in the region of HK$138,500 per month which rises to approximately HK$206,000 if one takes into accountdouble pay, bonus etc. In addition he receives a housing allowance. The wife’s rent is covered by that housing allowance at themoment. She wishes to move to alternative accommodation preferably in Discovery Bay. The husband has also recently leased a secondproperty in the sum of HK$50,000 per month. In total he says that his outgoings amount to HK$167,000 per month. The wife puts herexpenses at just under HK$180,000.
8. However if one looks at the bank accounts and if I accept what the wife says in this respect, it appears that she has spent in theregion of HK$366,000. On a very broad brush basis this would equate to just over HK$30,000 per month over a 12 month period. Sheclaims that this is not indicative of the parties’ standard of living during the marriage. While that may or may not be the caseit is certainly a good indicator of her actual needs at present.
9. The husband for his part does not accept the wife’s figures as set out in her Form E. However his schedule of expenses is equallyhigh in part – e.g. HK$15,000 per month for himself for meals out of the home and an additional HK$10,000 per month for himselffor clothing/shoes. It is clear that economies can and should be made in these areas. Further I note that he has estimated that hespends HK$7,000 per month for himself on holidays and a further HK$5,000 per month for the boys. A total of HK$13,000 per month forholidays seems quite high in these circumstances.
10. All in all then I am satisfied that with a little economizing that the husband should be able to pay a reasonable amount for thewife and boys in addition to his continued undertakings as set out above.
11. I will then make an interim interim order as follows:
Upon the Respondent’s undertakings as set out in paragraph 2 above
The Petitioner appeared in person
Ms Catherine Por of Stevenson Wong & Co for the Respondent