Apex court grants father of autistic boy full care and control after protracted, cross-border legal battle
SINGAPORE — After more than four years of cross-border legal battles, the Apex court on Thursday (Aug 16) granted a Singaporean father full care and control of his six-year-old autistic son, overturning a previous court ruling that the boy be returned to his mother residing in the United Kingdom (UK).
The mother, a 35-year-old Mongolian who made the news in 2014 after she was jailed for entering Singapore illegally by boat to snatch her son, will still have access to the boy.
She will be allowed daily Skype calls for at least 30 minutes, and the Apex court also ordered that the 41-year-old father sponsor at least two of the mother’s trips here per year, which should not exceed four weeks. The mother will have to pay for the costs of any subsequent trips.
In the grounds of judgement released on Friday, the Apex court determined that, among others, the father was more capable of providing for the boy’s developmental and material needs. Both parents — who cannot be named to protect the child’s identity — have joint custody of the boy, who is identified as ‘M’ in court documents.
It was also assessed that a change of environment — if the boy was to be uprooted from Singapore where he has been living since 2013 — would be disruptive as he has autism and is making progress in his condition. This is due to an early intervention programme he is enrolled in, as well as support from his preschool and caregivers.
Delivering the ruling, Judge of Appeal Judith Prakash acknowledged that the Apex court is conscious that the judgement will be “deeply disappointing” to the mother given that she has spent years trying to form a normal relationship with her son. But the decision was made in the child’s best interests after taking into account fresh evidence submitted by the father, which the Apex court found relevant to the appeal.
“When M is older, he may be able to travel to the UK or elsewhere to visit the mother so as to further enhance his bond with her,” said Judge of Appeal Prakash, who ruled together with Judges of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang and Steven Chong.
The father said in a statement issued through his lawyer Adrian Tan of August Law Corporation that he is “very relieved” that his son can remain in Singapore, where he has lived for the last five years.
For full article, please visit: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/apex-court-grants-father-6-year-old-autistic-boy-full-care-and-control-after-4-year-legal