TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday (October 18) ordered a custody battle between an Italian businessman and a Taiwanese woman over their 8-year-old daughter to be retried in a lower court.
Taiwan’s Constitutional Court found that the Supreme Court acted unconstitutionally by ignoring a minor’s wishes and referred the case back to the Supreme Court. In return, the Supreme Court abandoned the case and sent it back to the Taipei District Court for a new decision, CNA reported.
The case involved a Taiwanese woman surnamed Chan (詹) and an Italian man surnamed Lan (藍) who were fighting for guardianship of their daughter. In the original decision, the Taipei District Court ruled that the girl must be handed over to Lan. In response, Chan refused to accept the verdict and appealed, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court in February this year.
Chan then petitioned the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the decision, which resulted in the case being referred back to the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court found that while the Supreme Court considered its final judgment to be in the best interests of the minor, it violated the Constitution’s intention to protect the personality rights and human dignity of minors.
According to the Supreme Court, the constitution provides for a special duty of the state to ensure the physical and mental health and personal development of minors. Rather than basing a decision on a single factor, all favorable or unfavorable factors and their impact on a minor in each individual case must be identified before a comprehensive decision can be made.
In its original decision, the Taipei District Court found that Chan had kidnapped the child and Lan had filed for custody within a year. The court ruled that Chan must give custody of the child to Lan, who had planned to take her to Italy. A method was also arranged for Chan to interact with her daughter.
Chan will appear in court in March. (CNA photo)
However, since Chan disobeyed the verdict and continued to appeal, Lan was unable to take his daughter to Italy. In March, Lan accused Chan of hiding his daughter and not allowing him to contact her.
He claimed that Chan didn’t even let the girl go to school to avoid the court verdict. Lan felt the situation was unfair because the court only listened to Chan. He also questioned the impartiality of the trial, asking: “Is it because I’m Italian? Is that the reason? Are foreigners discriminated against in Taiwan?”
Following Chan’s appeal, Taiwan’s High Court ruled in the case on October 27, 2021. Since it had been more than a year and the girl had not gotten along with Lan, the court accepted the program supervisor’s recommendation against the girl’s frequent change of residence. The second court decision did not consider whether the girl was used to living in Taiwan or the possible psychological impact of being forced to relocate to Italy.
In its most recent ruling, the Supreme Court said the state has a duty to make decisions in the best interests of the child, noting that the girl is currently only 8 years old and her intellectual maturity does not match that of an adult.
It warned that if her desires and opinions were influenced by the primary caregiver’s emotions and words, she would be caught in the loyalty dilemma. The court said that would inevitably lead to fear.