Indian-American children wrongfully retained by mother in Singapore, court rules

The apex court has ruled that two Indian-American children were wrongfully retained in Singapore by their mother who had found work here, according to a report by Todayonline on May 10, 2017. The decision overturned a previous ruling by a district court.

The two boys, aged five-and-a-half and nearly three, held US citizenship. They must be returned to their father in California within 30 days. This is in accordance with the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, of which Singapore is a signatory.

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, delivered the decision on behalf of the court on Tuesday May 9.  He said the father had agreed to the family’s relocation to Singapore so his wife could pursue a career here in a bid to save their rocky marriage. But the terms of the consent changed when his wife indicated that she was going to file for a divorce last June. Therefore, by holding the children here, she was wrongfully retaining them.

The parents were born in India and married there in 2003. They are naturalised US citizens. Their relationship was strained before the children were born, with frequent spats starting from about three years into the marriage.

Between October and November 2015, the children came to Singapore as part of a family holiday. The plan was to return to the US on Jan 9 last year, but the mother landed a job with a private equity and advisory firm here on a one-year contract. The couple then decided on moving to Singapore temporarily.

But on June 2, the wife said she wanted a divorce. This prompted the father to find out how to regain custody of their boys, including launching a legal bid.

The court said the father never intended for the family to relocate to Singapore, and that intention was unilaterally the mother’s. The court also ruled that the “habitual residence” of a child cannot be determined unilaterally by one parent.