In a recent High Court case, a SIngaporean mother lost an appeal to keep her child in Singapore. This is the first case under the International Child Abduction Act that is heard by the Singapore Courts.
The first case pursuant to The Act was heard in the High Court recently, before Justice Judith Prakash;  SGHC 106. The case concerns a Singaporean mother, a German father and their child of both nationalities.
The child was born in Germany, where both parents initially resided. The couple came to Singapore to celebrate Chinese New Year last year. The father returned to Germany first. The mother and child were supposed to return shortly after. However, the mother and child did not do so.
The German court granted the father an interim order for sole exercise of “paternal authority”. The father then applied for a Request for Return pursuant to the Hague Convention on the basis that his son had been wrongfully detained. This order is valid and enforceable in Singapore by way of the Act.
To defend the order, the mother had to show successfully that there was a grave risk that the return of the child would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or the child in an intolerable situation. The Court held that the burden of proof on the mother is of an extremely high standard as the Court is concerned with the issue of choice of jurisdiction and not the underlying merits as to whether she is more deserving of custody.
In dismissing the appeal, the Court took into account, inter alia, the following (i) there was no allegation of harm inflicted on the child directly by the father, (ii) the alleged violence of the father was not a serious issue in the marriage, (iii) support facilities supplied by the German state that may be available to the mother as the mother of a German citizen, (iv) the undertakings by the father to ameliorate the financial situation of the mother, (v) the unconvincing nature of the mother's evidence, (vi) the habitual residence of the child was Germany and (vii) the mother would likely be granted custody of the child by the German court.