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Divorced couple go to High Court to decide who gets to have reunion dinner with son

The family court judge ruled that their son should have his CNY reunion dinner with both parents, first with his mother until 8:30 pm and thereafter with his dad

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Singapore – A divorced couple in Singapore went to court in hopes of settling an ongoing dispute as to who gets to have reunion dinners with their 13-year-old son.

A couple who got married in 1987 ended their two-and-a-half-decade partnership in 2012. However, their custody with their son has led to an ongoing dispute on who gets to have him over for his reunion dinners. The issue has lasted the past one-and-a-half years, reported Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao.

The estranged couple had four children together during their marriage. Their eldest had already passed away, while their two daughters were no longer minors; hence they did not need court intervention to decide on custody.

The current setup with their youngest son was weekends and school holidays at the end of the year with the father and staying with the mother on days in between.

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For several years, the arrangement had no problems, the report noted; yet in 2019, the divorced couple’s relationship turned increasingly hostile.

The woman filed an appeal in court to request for adjustments in the joint custody terms. She appealed to allow both parents to celebrate Chinese New Year’s eve with their son by taking turns.

The mother highlighted she wanted to spend time with her son during the festive period as she could not do so ever since the divorce.

However, the ex-husband rejected the request, noting their son had to stay with him during the eve of Chinese New Year until the second day of the holidays. The son also attended reunion dinners with relatives on his father’s side.

The father argued their son could not spend more time with relatives, something deemed crucial for his developmental years, when he stayed with his mother. Her reunion dinners did not include family relatives, the father noted.

The family court judge hearing their case ruled their son should have his reunion dinner with both parents. He could have his dinner with his mother until 8:30 pm on the eve of Chinese New Year before heading over to his father’s reunion dinner for the rest of the night.

This setup would allow both parents to spend time with their son during the festive period, the judge explained.

Unsatisfied with the ruling, the estranged couple appealed to the High Court.

The father had argued his son would be “too full” by 8:30 pm and would not enjoy another dinner, reported the Lianhe Wanbao. The High Court rejected their appeal, adding there was nothing wrong with the family court’s ruling.

Instead, both parents should cooperate than risk ruining their son’s festive period, the High Court advised.

The parents’ hostile relationship hindered their ability to come to a suitable set up regarding their son’s schedule. The High Court noted it was their responsibility to protect the child’s interests when deciding on a verdict.

The judge reiterated a feasible schedule could be agreed upon through amicable and civil means to limit the tension on the child and risk having him unhappy during the festive period.

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