10 Nov 2020

Securing custody and access rights for a father in Japan, to his children in Singapore.

The challenge

The couple, a British husband and his Hong Kong citizen wife, had lived in Singapore for many years. Their 9-year-old son was born in Hong Kong, while their 7-year-old daughter was born in Singapore. Although the family is still based in Singapore, the husband – our client – had to permanently relocate to Japan for his work.

His wife started divorce proceedings in Singapore in December 2019 and sought sole custody of both children, with restrictions on our client’s access to his children.

During pre-divorce proceedings, the couple entered into a consent order, which recognised that our client is based in Japan, and granted him access via video-conference on certain days of the week. Although these terms were set out in the order, when the divorce proceedings started the wife applied for sole custody of the children. She also wanted to reduce the access hours granted to our client. In fact, before the Family Justice Courts proceedings started, she had already imposed restricted access timings on our client after forcibly excluding him from the family home.

To make her case for sole custody and reducing our client’s access hours, the wife made a series of allegations against our client, which she sought to support with her reports to the police. These alleged extreme and violent behaviour on the part of our client, suggesting it would not be in the children’s interest to grant him custody and access. She also claimed that whilst she had no objection to our client’s access hours agreed in the order, the children had refused to communicate with him by video-conference.

Our support

Crucially, having studied the evidence presented by both sides in close detail, our Dispute Resolution Team was able to persuade the Court that the wife’s allegations were inconsistent and unsubstantiated.

In response to her claims that the children were refusing to communicate, we were also able to convince the Court that it was in fact the wife who was attempting to alienate the children from our client.

Making great things happen

We successfully resisted the wife’s application for sole custody, and preserved our client’s existing access rights to the children.

Although this difficult case lasted nearly a year, the Court ultimately took the view that preserving our client’s custody of and access rights to the children was in the children’s best interests, as it continued the unbroken parental bonds between our client and the children.

The Court was also persuaded to include an unconventional clause in its final order – where the wife was required to ensure the children’s compliance with the court-ordered access hours.

Our Dispute Resolution Team has extensive experience of proceedings in the Family Justice Courts and can provides reassuring, effective support for clients, even if there are travel restrictions and instructions have to be given remotely. We are always committed to building solutions that are appropriate and effective for your personal needs and circumstances.

For more information about our support on family matters, please get in touch.