Local court cases from the book


A woman underwent a sex reassignment procedure when she was 35. She changed her name to Eric, and her identity card was amended to reflect that she was male. Three years later, Eric got married. After a prolonged period of failing to consummate the marriage, Eric finally admitted to his wife that he was a transsexual. Feeling deceived, the woman tried to annul the marriage on the basis that Eric was biologically a female. This took place in 1991.

What the law says Their marriage was declared void as the court held then that a person's gender was determined biologically. The case, however, resulted in a change in the Women's Charter in 1996. Under today's law, the marriage between Eric and his wife would be legal as the sex reassignment procedure would render Eric a male and Eric's gender would be determined by that stated in his identity card.


Mr Ng was 42 and hoped to start a family of his own. Through an agency, he entered into an arranged marriage with a 21-year-old woman from China. After the wedding, she repeatedly refused intimacy with him and frequently stayed over at a friend's place. Five months later, she returned to China and never came back. In a phone call to Mr Ng, she said the marriage was a mistake and she would "rather die" than return to him.

What the law says A marriage must last at least three years before a divorce can be granted. However, the law makes exceptions under certain conditions. The court found that Mr Ng had entered into the marriage wholeheartedly. To force him to wait for the three-year time bar to expire would be to make him pay for his wife's wrongdoing. He was granted a divorce.


Their marriage was deteriorating and, a week before the birth of their daughter, the wife left the matrimonial home to live with her parents. The couple disagreed on many things, including which preschool their daughter should attend. In the end, they sent her to both - she had to go to one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. During the divorce proceedings, the husband appealed to the court for shared care and control of his daughter.

What the law says The court refused to grant shared care and control of the child to both parents as they had very different ideas about how to bring her up. The mother, whom the child was closer to, was given sole care and control. As a result, the girl no longer needed to attend two schools. Her father was allowed to visit her for four hours every weekday and six hours on Saturdays.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2017, with the headline 'Local court cases from the book'. Print Edition | Subscribe