His children should not be exposed to his 'reckless' lifestyle

For nearly 13 years, she was oblivious to her husband's secret life of drugs and casual gay sex.

She knew nothing about him being HIV-positive or his postings on a gay social networking site.

Things only came to light in 2009 when she hired a private investigator to check on him after becoming suspicious of his late nights.

By then, she had given birth to triplets through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

These details emerged in a High Court judgment on the couple's divorce that was released yesterday.

Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy awarded the woman $1.9 million as her share of the matrimonial assets.

It included assets worth some $770,000 under her name, 60 per cent of proceeds from the sale of their marital home in Sembawang and a property in Serangoon worth $1 million.

The couple cannot be named to protect their children.

They were married in April 1996 after cohabiting in a Jalan Bahagia flat.

After joining the man's family's packaging business, the couple struck out on their own and set up various businesses including a piano shop and a spa.

The wife went through a series of painful and stressful fertility treatments in an attempt to have a baby.

After several attempts, she conceived triplets through IVF in 2003, said court documents.

In 2008, she noticed her husband acting oddly and withdrawn from the family. He often went out alone, returning home drunk late at night.

He also began sleeping separately from her.

In January 2009, she hired a private investigator who discovered that her husband had been actively engaging in trysts with other men.

When she confronted him, he admitted that he was gay.

They decided to go for counselling to save their marriage. At the first session, the husband revealed that he was HIV-positive.

In late 2009, he began spending weekends and stretches of time away from home, which led the wife to conclude that he was not serious about trying to save their marriage.

MOVED OUT

She moved out of their home in January 2010, taking the triplets with her.

The next month, she applied for a personal protection order (PPO) against her husband who had beaten her on at least two occasions, including in front of colleagues at their workplace, court documents said.

He also used force on one of their children and had screaming rages against the other two.

During proceedings for the PPO, the husband, who did not have a lawyer, insisted on the children, then aged seven, giving evidence in court. They later testified via videolink.

"His decision, therefore, deliberately put his young children in a position where they would have to be subjected to cross-examination by their own father," Justice Coomaraswamy wrote.

The woman was granted full custody of her children and her husband was allowed to see them for only two hours a week under supervision.

He had asked for this to be relaxed, but the judge ruled against it as he did not think it was in the children's best interest for the man to be involved in the decision-making for their welfare.

"I say that because the husband has, at least since 2008, demonstrated a very poor ability to make decisions even for his own welfare.

"Indeed, what he has shown is an ability to make decisions which are positively detrimental to his own welfare," the judge said.

He referred to the man's four-month jail term for possession and consumption of drugs, including methamphetamine and ketamine; his promiscuous lifestyle where he solicited short-term sexual trysts on a social networking site for gay men; and the recklessness by which he was likely to have become HIV-positive.

Justice Coomaraswamy wrote that the man was also involved with a partner who leads a particularly "reckless and dissolute lifestyle". In 2009, that partner was found under the bed of his then-lover, who had died from a drug overdose.

He added that he was not inclined to give the man more access because he did not take the initiative to visit his children since his release from prison in September 2013.

"I do not consider it in the triplets' best interests to be exposed to the husband's reckless and dissolute lifestyle so long as that lifestyle continues," said the judge, adding that his visits needed to be supervised.

"The husband has on previous occasions deliberately failed to return the triplets to the wife after unsupervised access.

"In his oral submissions before me, without a trace of irony, the husband himself used the term 'kidnap' to refer to his actions."

The man is appealing the decision.


This article was first published on July 30, 2015.
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