I REFER to the report “Move to harmonise laws” (The Star, Sept 5) on the proposed amendment to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act. The amendment aims to harmonise civil and Syariah laws in matters of ex-spouses making use of religion to take advantage of a bitter situation to obtain child custody.
There are cases where an ex-spouse converts to Islam solely to gain the advantage in the fight for child custody rights.
Both the civil and Syariah courts must work together for the child’s interest regardless of the race and religion of both parents.
It is plain wrong when a parent “kidnaps” the children from the other parent and then “imprisons” them via loopholes in the Syariah laws.
Some parents do this out of spite, using the children as pawns in their disputes. There are no real winners in a bitter divorce and the children could be forced to convert by the ex-spouse.
Even when custody of the child goes to one parent, the other parent has rights under the law for visitations and has course to pursue shared custody provided it can be proven that it will be advantageous for the child’s development.
Any child would need access to both parents to have a complete childhood and anything less will be detrimental to his or her emotional wellbeing.
Judgements by both the civil and Syariah courts need to be ironed out with the interest of the child taking precedent above anything else.
The civil and Syariah courts should also seriously consider a safeguard law whereby each parent must be given proper access to the child, the right for shared custody and comprehensive visitation rights of the parent not having full custody.
To any layman, the law is to right a wrong and this is especially so in child custody battles.
NG SHU TSUNG
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