According to the Straits Times, Singapore authorities are taking action to discourage parents from stealing their children and fleeing while going through a divorce. The new legislation gives additional powers to employees of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to detain adults who are attempting to leave the country with their children against a court order.

Reviewing the New Legislation

Under the new rules, ICA authorities now have the legal power to stop parents from leaving the country with their kids, if there is a court order in place that forbids it. A parent who defies the court order and tries to take the kids out of Singapore will be prevented from passing through any of the checkpoints.

If there is a care and control order or a custody order in place for a child, that child cannot be taken across the border out of Singapore without the consent of either the court or both parents. The consent must be in written form. Any attempt to circumvent such orders can result in up to a year of jail time, a $5,000 fine, or both penalties inflicted simultaneously.

Closing the Loophole

Some earlier cases of parental abduction were problematic, because the ICA technically did not have the authority to stop parents from leaving the country with the children, in spite of the court’s orders. Now, the new legislation gives the ICA additional power to enforce the order.

Singapore lawmakers saw the need to improve the legislation because of this loophole, and also because of the increasing rates of international marriages and divorces within Singapore. In 2011, about 31 percent of divorces in Singapore under the Women’s Charter involved foreigners. That totalled around 1900 divorces. In 2016, 40 percent of all divorces involved at least one foreigner. That’s 2,500 divorces in which the stakes for obtaining child custody are higher and more emotionally charged.

Understanding the Higher Stakes for Divorces Involving Foreigners

In cases of foreigners divorcing in Singapore, the foreign parent may feel that a ruling in favour of the local parent would be unbearable. They fear being far away from their kids and rarely seeing them, or they may be concerned about potential abuse or lack of care for the kids. The foreign parent might feel justified in taking the children along, back to his or her home country.

Recovering from Parental Child Abduction

Unfortunately, parental child abduction leaves serious emotional scars on children. The child is subjected to a terrible sense of confusion, loss, betrayal, anxiety, and insecurity. According to the Law Gazette and ABC News sources, kids can suffer the harmful effects of parental abduction for decades.

Do you know of a child who has recently endured a parental abduction experience? Perhaps an adult you know suffered a traumatic event like this as a child and still bears the emotional scars today. Call Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, where victims of parental child abduction can find relief with holistic therapies in a safe, supportive environment with the help of a professional psychiatrist in Singapore.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Sources: Straits Times, 2 April 2017; Law Gazette, 2016;, December 5,  2014