CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeTan Shin Yi
Judgment Date14 June 2012
Neutral Citation[2012] SGDC 209
Citation[2012] SGDC 209
Publication Date16 July 2012
Docket NumberDivorce No. 3569 of 2009, Summon No. 6100 of 2012
Plaintiff CounselMs Stephanie Looi and Mr Lei Wei Rong (M/s RHT Law Taylor Wessing LLP)
Defendant CounselMr Godwin Campos (M/s Godwin Campos LLC)
District Judge Tan Shin Yi: Introduction

This summons application is for (i) leave for the Plaintiff to bring the child of the marriage (“B”) for an overseas holiday to Canada from 24th May 2012 to 24th June 2012; and (ii) for the Defendant to hand over B’s passport to the Plaintiff within 48 hours of any Order made. A week before this application was filed, the Plaintiff had applied for leave to relocate to Canada with B by September 2012. The relocation application was originally fixed to be heard together with this application, but is now adjourned for hearing on 22 June 2012.

After hearing submissions from the counsel of both parties, I dismissed the Plaintiff’s application for leave to bring B for a holiday to Canada, and the Plaintiff has now appealed against my decision.

In order to understand the reasons for my decision, one cannot look at the application in isolation, that is, without full consideration of the surrounding circumstances in this divorce matter. At first blush, the application seems to be an innocent one but as the related facts become clear, one would appreciate that if the application is granted, there is a very real risk that the child would not be returned to Singapore.

Important background facts The Ancillary Orders obtained in the Defendant’s absence

The Plaintiff filed for divorce in 2009 and obtained an order for substituted service of the divorce documents on the Defendant by way of posting on the matrimonial home at xxx (“the HDB Flat”) and on the Notice Board of the Subordinate Courts. The Defendant did not enter an appearance in the proceedings.

In October 2010, the Plaintiff obtained ancillary orders in the Defendant’s absence, inter alia, as follows (“the Ancillary Orders”): The Plaintiff shall have sole custody, care and control of B with reasonable access to the Defendant. The Plaintiff is at liberty to apply for a new passport for B (this was necessary as the Defendant had B’s passport). The Defendant’s rights, share and title in the HDB Flat and in xxx (“the Condominium”) shall be transferred to the Plaintiff without the need to refund the Defendant’s CPF monies used for both properties. The Plaintiff to bear the costs of the transfers. The Registrar of the Subordinate Courts is empowered to sign on behalf of the Defendant, all documents necessary for the transfer of the matrimonial properties to the Plaintiff, if the Defendant failed to sign such documents within 7 days of written request to him by way of posting on his last known address (the HDB Flat) and on the Notice Board of the Subordinate Courts.

The Defendant was not aware of the divorce proceedings until a few months later, when he received a letter from the CPF Board regarding the Ancillary Orders. The Defendant quickly instructed solicitors and applied to set aside the Ancillary Orders in March 2011. The Defendant explained that he had moved out of the HDB Flat to stay with his mother sometime in 2009, and that the Plaintiff was aware of this as B visited him at his mother’s home twice a month. The Plaintiff had the Defendant’s mobile and office phone numbers and could have contacted him easily. Yet the Plaintiff had served the divorce documents, as well as notice of the transfer of the properties, on the HDB Flat, even though she was ostensibly aware that doing so would not bring the proceedings or the transfer to the Defendant’s attention.

After applying to set aside the...

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