CX v CY (minor: custody, care, control and access)

JudgeKan Ting Chiu J
Judgment Date28 January 2005
Neutral Citation[2005] SGHC 16
Docket NumberRegistrar's Appeals from the Subordinate Courts Nos 720054 and 720055 of 2004
Date28 January 2005
Published date31 January 2005
Plaintiff CounselJoyce Fernando (Robert Wang and Woo LLC)
Citation[2005] SGHC 16
Defendant CounselPeter Cuthbert Low (Peter Low Tang and Belinda Ang)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterNo order made,Care and control,Whether district judge should have made joint custody order,Access,Whether in child's best interest to allow father access to child out of jurisdiction,Whether father should be ordered to provide security when taking child out of jurisdiction,Family Law,Whether infant's welfare better looked after by mother or father,Custody,Circumstances where joint custody order should be made

28 January 2005

Kan Ting Chiu J:

1 A little boy is in the centre of this case. He was barely three years old when this matter came before me. His parents are still married to one another but the marriage has broken down, and the relationship between them is severely strained.

2 The husband (the plaintiff) is a Dutch national working in Thailand. The wife (the defendant) is a Singapore national residing and working in Singapore. They met while they were working in Thailand, and were married in Singapore on 23 June 2001. The boy was born on 2 October 2001 in Thailand, and took his father’s nationality.

3 The parties stayed together in Bangkok after the boy was born, but separated in May 2003 after the defendant discovered the plaintiff was having an extramarital affair. The defendant left the family home with the boy and moved to Phuket before returning to Singapore in July 2003 with him. Disagreements arose between the parties over the custody, care and control of the boy. The plaintiff brought the matter before the Family Court under the Guardianship of Infants Act (Cap 122, 1985 Rev Ed).

4 The hearing before the court was contentious. The district judge made interim custody and access orders and called for a social welfare report from the Ministry of Community Development and Sports before she made her final decision on 19 May 2004.

5 The district judge declined to make the custody order that the plaintiff sought. Instead she ordered that:

1. The Plaintiff’s application be dismissed.

2. The Defendant shall have care and control of the child.

3. The Plaintiff shall have access to the child twice a month for five days each time from 9 am to 7 pm. The Plaintiff shall pick the child up and return the child to [the child’s residential address].

4. Subject to order 5, the child is not to be removed from the jurisdiction by either party without the written consent of the other party.

5. The Plaintiff shall be entitled to bring the child out of the jurisdiction once every six months for not more than 14 days each time. The Plaintiff shall inform the Defendant in writing of the itinerary and flight details at least 14 days in advance. The Defendant shall hand over the child’s passport to the Plaintiff when the child is handed over to the Plaintiff for the trip.

6. The Defendant shall inform the Plaintiff of the address and contact number of the child’s residence.

6 The decision did not satisfy either party and they both appealed. The plaintiff wanted custody, care and control of the boy to be given to him, or alternatively, to him jointly with the defendant. On access, he wanted access to the boy five days a month out of the jurisdiction, or alternatively, that the access periods ordered include overnight access.

7 The defendant, on the other hand, wanted the orders set aside and be substituted by an order that she shall have sole custody of the boy, with reasonable access to the plaintiff in Singapore.

8 The district judge had set out the reasons for her orders in her written judgment ([2004] SGDC 166). She noted that the plaintiff had professed love and concern for his son, claimed to have devoted time to him, and complained that after their separation, the defendant had made it difficult for him to have access to the boy. If the boy was given to his custody, the plaintiff proposed to engage a full-time live-in nanny for the boy, and gave the assurance that he would look after the boy himself as he worked from home.

9 The defendant gave a different account of the situation. She accused the plaintiff of neglecting his duties as a husband and father, and of having and continuing an affair with another woman. (The last charge was not denied.) She alleged that the plaintiff had threatened to take the boy from her. She also raised questions over the boy’s immigration status in Thailand as the plaintiff did not hold a work permit in Thailand to enable him to apply for a dependant’s pass for the boy.


10 The district judge declined to make an order for the custody of the boy. In her Grounds of Decision, the district judge referred to Re Aliya Aziz Tayabali [2000] 1 SLR 754 and Re G (guardianship of an infant) [2004] 1 SLR 229 where the courts made no custody orders because of the acrimony between the parents.

11 In the first case, Michael Hwang JC considered the state of the law by going through a series of decisions. In Jussa v Jussa [1972] 1 WLR 881, the English Court of Appeal held that a joint custody order, with care and control to one parent, should only be made where there was a reasonable prospect that the parties would co-operate. This decision was referred to with approval by the Singapore Court of Appeal in Ho Quee Neo Helen v Lim Pui Heng [1972–1974] SLR 249.

12 But a more flexible approach has been taken in subsequent cases. The English Court of Appeal in Caffell v Caffell [1984] FLR 169 and Hurst v Hurst [1984] FLR 867 held that a parent who does not have care and control but who is anxious over the upbringing of a child could also have joint custody with the other parent who has the care and control.

13 In Re G, Tan Lee Meng J set aside a sole custody order and explained at [8] that:

While it is true that a joint custody order may be unrealistic where the parents of a child have an acrimonious relationship, it does not always follow that the alternative in such a situation is to grant sole custody of the child to one parent. Where there is no immediate or pressing need for the question of custody to be settled, one should seriously consider whether an order for sole custody is in the best interest of a child, who should, without more, be entitled to the guidance of both parents. Jussav Jussa must be viewed in the proper perspective and should not always be relied on to justify an order for sole custody merely because the child’s parents have an acrimonious relationship. One must be mindful of the fact that s 3 of the Guardianship of Infants Act (Cap 122) provides that in any proceedings relating to custody or the upbringing of an infant, the infant’s welfare is “the first and paramount consideration” and save in so far as such welfare otherwise requires, neither the father nor the mother shall have any right superior to the other.

His Honour made no order on custody.

14 Passivity is not necessarily the best course. One may ask whether a custody order should be deferred because there is no immediate or pressing need for the question of custody to be settled. If there is some apprehension that the parents may not be able or prepared to exercise custody rights together, the making of an order would allow them (and the court) to know if they can work together, and to make the necessary changes if they cannot. There is no advantage in keeping the matter in suspension and then making an order when there is an immediate or pressing need for an order without the benefit of a “trial” period.

15 The district judge explained her decision at [24]:

Since my task was to make a decision that took into account [the boy’s] welfare as the first and paramount consideration, I felt that it would not be appropriate in this case to make a custody order. Both parties in this case were mature, able-bodied adults who undoubtedly loved [the boy] deeply. They were however not able to communicate effectively due to the level of acrimony between them. A joint custody order was thus not suitable since it was rather likely that they would continue to do battle over their custodial powers over [the boy]. I was also reluctant to award sole custody of [the boy] to the Defendant, seeing that she firstly, had not applied for sole custody but was merely defending the Plaintiff’s application for sole custody, and secondly, had not stated anything that could persuade me that it was necessary to give her the prima facie advantage of making serious long-term decisions about [the boy’s] upbringing.

16 I think a more accommodating approach may be adopted. We should begin on first principles that someone should have responsibility and authority over the welfare of a child. In the normal course of events, the parents of a child would have joint...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 cases
  • Cx v Cy (Minor: Custody and Access)
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 19 Julio 2005
    ...the necessary changes. He elaborated at [18] and [19] of his grounds of decision (see CX v CY (minor: custody, care, control and access) [2005] 1 SLR 724) Prima facie, a parent of a child, by the fact of parenthood, has a right of custody over the child. That continues to be true even when ......
  • CX v CY (minor: custody and access)
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 19 Julio 2005
    ...the necessary changes. He elaborated at [18] and [19] of his grounds of decision (see CX v CY (minor: custody, care, control and access) [2005] 1 SLR 724) Prima facie, a parent of a child, by the fact of parenthood, has a right of custody over the child. That continues to be true even when ......
  • LB v LC
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 30 Octubre 2005
    ...custody, the Plaintiff would only be asking for a joint custody order in line with the current judicial trend, citing CX v CY (a minor ) [2005] 1 SLR 724. 16 Defendant counsel argued that the Defendant should be given custody care and control because the Plaintiff mother had initially given......
  • LZ v MA
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 29 Julio 2005
    ...event that an impasse should arise, the assistance of the court could always be sought.” More recently, Kan Ting Chiu J opined in CX v CY [2005] SGHC 16 that as a general rule, a child’s interest is best advanced by the making of an order for joint custody. Kan J’s reasoning was that: “18. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Family Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2010, December 2010
    • 1 Diciembre 2010
    ...Custody, care and control Determining custody, care and control 15.14 The landmark decision of CX v CY (minor: custody and access) [2005] 1 SLR(R) 724 (‘CX v CY’) set the direction on parenting orders in Singapore. Decisions applying CX v CY aimed for arrangements that supported joint paren......
  • Family Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2005, December 2005
    • 1 Diciembre 2005
    ...custody, with care and control to the mother. The mother appealed against, inter alia, the joint custody order. The High Court decision ([2005] 1 SLR 724) has been reviewed last year (see (2004) 5 SAL Ann Rev 281 at paras 13.11—13.16). 13.14 The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court”s order......
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2005, December 2005
    • 1 Diciembre 2005
    ...205. 8 [2005] 3 SLR 690 (“CX v CY”). For the District Court’s decision, see [2004] SGDC 166; the High Court’s decision is reported at [2005] 1 SLR 724. 9 Id at [31]. 10 UK Law Commission, Family Law: Review of Child Law Guardianship and Custody (Law Commission No 172, 1988) (Chairman: Roy B......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT