Dad given control of boy in custody case

Dad given control of boy in custody case
JC Wei made clear that while the child showed "strong resistance" to seeing his mother, his wishes cannot override his own best interests.

SINGAPORE - A judge urged a divorcing couple to put aside their differences and help their child maintain a healthy relationship with both, in a rare case giving the father care and control of the boy.

Judicial Commissioner George Wei overruled the 13-year-old's wish not to see his mother and made clear it was in the child's best interest to maintain the link.

The Singaporean couple, both in their early 40s and married for 14 years, split in 2011 because of the man's adultery. The boy has lived with him since before the 2011 High Court divorce hearing, which also ruled that his mother was to have access to him.

JC Wei made clear that while the child showed "strong resistance" to seeing his mother, his wishes cannot override his own best interests. Denying her access to her son would be akin to complete alienation, he said in judgment grounds released yesterday.

It is believed that different parenting styles may have led to the boy's preference to live with his father.

On the day the mother and son were scheduled to meet in September 2011, the then 11-year- old gave her a police report which put on record that he did not want to see her. It is understood the report was made to serve as evidence that the father arranged for the mother's access but the boy himself was opposed to it.

Late last year, in a hearing for the division of assets, the woman, represented by lawyer Mahendra Segeram, once again sought care and control of the boy. His father, represented by lawyer Lucy Netto, opposed the move in the hearing before JC Wei.

JC Wei acknowledged it was she who had looked after the boy for many years since his birth but he was well settled in his current living environment with his father. He ruled that a sudden change in living arrangements would not be in his best interests.

But the judge made clear she was to have access and, while the link was "very strained, it must be in the child's interest that all attempts are made to preserve or repair the mother-child relationship".

In affirming joint custody, which gives the mother a say over decisions about the boy, JC Wei noted that the child had not seen her for more than three years and ordered that he undergo counselling before they meet again. He also ordered the parents to attend a parenting workshop.

The judge further ordered that the couple's two properties be sold with 65 per cent of the net proceeds to go the wife. The man is a project manager and the woman a senior company executive.

This article was first published on May 27, 2014.
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