Kids lose in parents’ custody battle

A brother and sister end up under the care of child welfare officials after their father lost a custody battle over them, and they refused to go home with their mother. (Photo by Hathairat Phaholtap)

Amid intertwined cases of parents fighting for custody of their children and alleged molestation by the mother’s new lover, two children will now have to leave both their parents and live with children’s welfare officials instead.

After a months-long battle between the mother and father for custody of their children, a court order forced the French father to hand over his kids to their Chinese mother on Thursday. While the children were happy to see their mother when they met at a city police station, they refused to go home with her.

It is not known how long the brother and sister will have to stay away from their parents, Tatpol Chuenchonpruk, the father’s lawyer said.

He told the Bangkok Post the situation was now out of hand, and it was clear the children could not go back with either parent.

“The best they can do at this point is let the kids decide who they want to be with,” Mr Tatpol said.

Over the past few years, the children’s father, Cedric Servan, and their mother took turns every week to keep the kids.

However, in April, Mr Servan used the public holidays on Chakri Day and the Songkran period as an excuse to skip their appointment and kept the children with him longer, while the mother went to receive them at the court in vain.

In May, the children told Mr Servan that their mother’s lover played pornography in front of them and molested them. He then filed a complaint with Chon Buri police.

A physical examination of the children found nothing wrong, but the psychological test did, according to Mr Servan, who was reluctant to hand the children over to their mother.

The mother refused to speak to the media.

Meanwhile, the first court hearing on the alleged molestation case has been set for Oct 30.

Legally, the mother now has sole custody of the children, which was previously shared by both parents.

After Mr Servan missed several appointments this year to allow the children to spend time with their mother, the court ordered the mother should have temporary custody until a new court order, said Mr Tatpol, who took over the alleged molestation case towards the end of June.

“Luckily, the officers from the Centre for the Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation and the Department of Children and Youth were there to witness the incident [where the children refused to go with the mother]. They used their authority to take the two children under their care and they refused both parents custody of their children,” he added.

The children are now being kept at Chulalongkorn Hospital for psychological assessment for seven days. After that, both parents will have to go for the same assessment. The results will be sent to the Juvenile and Family Court to reconsider the order.

The results of the psychological assessment and the court hearing in the alleged molestation case will be considered to determine a new custody order of the children.

But for now, they will remain at the hospital under the protection of Thai officials, he said.

Mr Servan said: “It was sad and heartbreaking to see how my kids are suffering. Their mother pulled and yanked my children while they were screaming and crying. I just stood there, unable to help since I [previously] disobeyed the court order.”

Orapin Sak-eiam, director of the Children’s Welfare Protection Division of the Department of Children and Youth, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, revealed a multi-disciplinary team has now submitted a request to the court for temporary custody of the children.

They are now in the psychological assessment process, which will take seven days.

“We have to consider the children’s welfare first. They must have a healthy and stable state of mind before returning to their family. If the two parents can’t settle this, the children will be sent to stay at a government children’s home,” Ms Orapin said. – Bangkok Post

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