From S'pore to Germany, to battle over a child
IT STARTED when a Singaporean woman came home from Germany to celebrate the Chinese New Year with her family in 2012.
Her husband, a German, went back, but she stayed here with her young son - and has refused to visit Germany ever since.
Singapore's top court has now ordered her to return to that country, where the custody of the four-year-old boy will be decided.
The boy was born in 2010 in Germany, which was also his habitual home. According to the Hague Convention, if a child has been abducted, then the issues of custody and care must be settled in the country of his habitual residence.
The couple have another son, 21/2, who was born in Singapore.
The woman, 30, had argued that courts here could rule against returning the older child to Germany if he was at serious risk of physical or psychological harm.
After losing her case at the District Court and High Court, she turned to the Court of Appeal - and lost yet again.
"This is, in fact, the first case under the (International Child Abduction) Act and the Hague Convention to be litigated in Singapore," noted Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang in judgment grounds released yesterday.
The family used to live in Germany, but the woman apparently quarrelled with her husband and had differences with her mother-in-law.
As the battle moves back to that country, the court has set certain conditions for the child's return.
First, the husband must seek to rescind a German court order made in 2011 that gave him "paternal authority" over the child, which in effect meant interim care and custody.
The husband has undertaken to pay for the separate stay of the woman and the two children in Germany.
Meanwhile, the woman has pledged to be subjected to medical treatment and not do anything to undermine the husband's undertakings.
The court said these conditions were meant to ensure that court proceedings in Germany "proceed on a level playing field in all respects".
Poonam Mirchandani, the woman's lawyer, said: "The court, in requiring both parties to provide undertakings, did so with the child's welfare in mind.
"The undertakings by a parent seeking the return of the child are important as they take into consideration the welfare of the child when the child returns to Germany."