Mother fears imprisonment due to failure to hand over child to father in a court order

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Hi Gilbert,

I am writing to you as I had gotten your email from Singapore Support Site for The Divorced.

I am not sure if you can help me in my question.

I have received a summon to attend Court as I did not allow the Child’s Father to see him. Now the other party wants the Court to imprison me as there was a contempt of the order on my end.

The reason I did not follow the order was because I do not feel safe for my boy to be given to him non-supervised for 3 hours. He had made numerous reports to police that I have abused the child etc. And before he has also taken the child away from me refusing to return him and the police were not able to get involved as this is deemed a domestic affair.

Please advise me if I will be imprisoned due to this. I still have another 3 children from my previous marriage that I am supporting. In fact, the other party has not been giving me Child Maintenance ever since the birth of his child.

He only paid once when I made a report at Family Court, but I have to endure his words of insults etc.

Regards,

Tammie

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Dear Tammie

  1. From your emails to Gilbert, I gather that  there is an  existing court order made for your ex husband (for convenience I will refer to him as “H”) to see your son (“access order”).
  2. As you have not complied with the existing access order – regardless of your reasons for refusing to do so (I will address this later) – H can seek the Court’s assistance to make you comply with it by suing you for contempt (or disobedience) of the court order. And yes, H can ask the Court to punish you for your contempt of the access order – if your disobedience of the court order is proven – by asking the Court to impose a fine and/or order a jail term.
  3. You must attend Court as you have been summoned to do so. If you are absent from the hearing, the Court may order that a warrant of arrest be issued against you.
  4. If there are reasons that you do not wish your son to have access to H, or if you have an alternative access arrangement in mind (for example, you agree to your son having access to H under your supervision or supervision by a third party such as a DSSA counsellor, these must be communicated to the Court, by a summons application filed by you to vary (or change) the existing access order. You will have to file an affidavit to explain to the Court these reasons. H will have an opportunity to provide his response also by affidavit. You may file a reply affidavit in response if you feel it is necessary to do so. Once the affidavits from you and H are in, the Court will hear parties’ arguments for the summons application and make a decision in the best interests of your son.
  5. If you believe that it is not in your son’s best interests for him to have access to H, you need to take out the summons application to vary the access order immediately. You can then let the Court know at the next hearing for contempt that you have taken this step (to try to vary the access order). Without applying for the existing access order to be varied, you will be expected to comply with it, no matter how unfair you may feel the situation is.
  6. Please go to the Community Justice Centre at the State Courts at Havelock Road to seek help immediately, or guidance on how you should proceed to file the summons application to vary the access order.

Kind regards,

Lawyer

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