Woman loses bid to take son on overseas stint
Single woman with joint custody of 8-year-old denied permission as father fears reduced access to son
A judge stopped short of calling a mother selfish in denying the single woman permission to take her eight-year-old son with her on a two-year work assignment in London.
The woman - a corporate vice-president earning $560,000 a year - had argued that denying her the chance to relocate would hurt her career and endanger her health.
This, she argued, would then affect her ability to care for her son, identified in court papers as R. She needed permission as she has joint custody, following a court consent order in Singapore last year.
The boy's father is an Irish national working in New Zealand as chief executive of a property development company.
The married man has two children of his own.
In judgement grounds last week, District Judge Kathryn Thong said: "The mother's case has been run on a very individual-centric, rather than child-centric basis."
The judge stressed that the court's decision has to be in the best interests of the child.
"The narrative that emerges from the affidavits is that relocation is necessary for career development, or at least not to jeopardise (the mother's) career, and R's benefiting from this is incidental rather than the driving force behind the relocation," she said.
The narrative that emerges from the affidavits is that relocation is necessary for career development, or at least not to jeopardise (the mother's) career, and R's benefiting from this is incidental rather than the driving force behind the relocation.District Judge Kathryn Thong
The court noted that the only time the couple and R resided together was in 2010 in New Zealand. That was when the man's wife and two children were in Ireland for a year.
From 2011 to 2016, the man flew to Singapore to visit every four to 12 weeks, but in 2016 the mother ended the relationship as she felt he was not interested in spending time with their son, which the father denied.
The woman's lawyer, Mr Yap Teong Liang, said that after the move to London she would give the father more access to their son than provided for under existing arrangements, adding that the boy was still young and would easily adapt to a new environment.
But the father's lawyer, Mr Ivan Cheong, countered that the woman was concerned with advancing her career and that her case overall suffered from a lack of evidence, including for claims of ill health.
The father feared that any relocation would reduce his access to his son and that the boy would be traumatised by being uprooted from Singapore, where his family and friends are.
The court found that the "blossoming relationship" between the boy, who attends school in Singapore, and his overseas-based father would be lost with any relocation.
Judge Thong "did not find the mother's wish to relocate reasonable" and noted that the mother had acknowledged that the boy "loves his father and actively sought his approval".
Pointing to the potential loss in relationship to the "left-behind parent", the judge added that "the status quo appears to be working fine enough for the father" and that she saw "no reason to disrupt R's life by allowing the relocation".
The mother is appealing against the court decision.