Muslim-Convert Mum Loses Custody Battle in Federal Court

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The Federal Court in Putrajaya today denied a Muslim-convert mother’s bid to overturn the Court of Appeal’s order to grant full custody of her two children to her Buddhist ex-husband.

A three-member bench comprising Mohd Zawawi Salleh, Abdul Rahman Sebli and Hasnah Mohammed Hashim unanimously dismissed the woman’s appeal with RM10,000 costs.

Justice Zawawi, who chaired the bench, held that the woman had failed to meet the threshold requirement under Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

He said the three legal questions posed by the woman’s counsel Rohani Ibrahim were related to the facts of the case.

Earlier, the same court struck out the woman’s application to cite fresh evidence after she withdrew the application. The court ordered her to pay costs of RM3,000.

Justice Zawawi had said that the application was premature as the mother had not yet obtained leave to appeal to the Federal Court.

The 43-year-old mother converted to Islam in December 2015 and obtained custody of the two children in April last year.

She converted the children, then aged four and eight, on May 11, 2016, without the father’s knowledge and consent.

On September 14, 2018, the Court of Appeal gave full custody to the father, a 47-year-old businessman, after allowing his appeal to set aside the Shah Alam High Court ruling, which gave custody to the mother.

The woman’s appeal against the High Court’s decision on Oct 16, 2018, to quash the conversion certificates of her children went to the Court of Appeal on March 16.

Lawyer Honey Tan, representing the ex-husband, said the children would remain with their father, with the mother having access to the children.

She said if there were material changes of circumstances, the mother could go back to the High Court to vary the custody order.

“The custody order is valid until the children are of 18 years of age,” she said.