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child custody

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Child Custody is a delicate matter to have to deal with as a parent. At Emerald Law, we understand the importance of being able to care for your child and to spend quality time with your child. Our lawyers who specialise in Custody related matters will be able to assist you in ensuring that you as a parent will be able to care for your child and their needs are protected.

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Our specialised lawyers and their team are standing by to assist you. Our first consultation is free.

With our wealth of experience, we help you navigate through the custody process in the smoothest manner and ensuring that your child's needs are protected.

Our lawyers will advise you on Custody, Care & Control options that would be available to you. We will also advise you on what the best course of action is and what is the best possible Custody, Care & Control arrangement you will be able to obtain in your case.

Custody grants the custodial parent long-term decision-making authority for the welfare of the child, i.e. education and healthcare-related decisions.

Care & Control is awarded to the parent that will be looking after the day to day needs of the child. This involves, but not limited to, provision of food, education, shelter, clothing and other necessities that the child may require. The child’s day to day routine would largely be decided by the parent with care and control.

Custody refers to who makes the major decision for the child, such as whether the child can be brought overseas or which school the child attends. Care & control refers to who takes care of the child on a daily basis. Generally, if the child is of a young and tender age and where the mother has been the primary caregiver, the mother will obtain care & control, but if the father can prove that he is a better caregiver, the Court may award care & control to the father. In relation to custody, the Court normally awards joint custody to ensure that both parents continue to make major decisions for the child.

There are two main types of Custody orders, namely Joint Custody and Sole Custody. Joint Custody means that both parents will have to agree on any major long-term decisions for the child and is usually encouraged by the Courts unless exceptional circumstances can be proven.

Joint custody means that both parents must be involved and agree on any major decisions for the child.

Sole Custody means that the parent who is awarded custody has the right to make all the decisions for the child to the exclusion of the other parents.

However, the Singapore Courts have recognised that it is important for the Child to have both parents' in their lives even after parents are divorced. Thus, sole custody will not be awarded to one parent without justifiable reasons and usually this is in exceptional circumstances.

Another way of obtaining Sole Custody is in the form of an agreement between the parents. If both parents agree that one parent shall have Sole Custody, the Singapore Courts will typically not interfere and allow one party to have Sole Custody.

Access refers to the visitation rights of the parents who does not have Care and Control.

Reasonable access without specific timings stated means that parties will have discuss and agree on when and where access may take place. Within the category of reasonable access, you may also include overnight access. However, reasonable access does not automatically include overnight access. It is best to stipulate what happens during school holidays as well.

Access is usually in the form of reasonable, liberal, supervised, unsupervised and/or overnight access or a combination of the various forms. Access arrangements may or may not include specific timings as well. It is best that you speak to a lawyer to understand the different types of access arrangements.

Child maintenance is paid by the parent who does not have Care & Control of the child to the parent who was awarded Care & Control. This sum of money should be used towards the cost of raising your child to ensure that their needs are met. 

Maintenance is paid until the child has attained the age of 21 or till he/she has completed his/her tertiary education (Polytechnic diploma / University). This is to ensure that your child can find a job in Singapore's job market and provide for themselves. Children who have life-long disabilities may also need to be taken care of by their parents for the full duration of their lives for so long as the parents are able to provide for them. 

The amount of money paid for maintenance varies from child to child and is affected by many factors such as:

  • The child's expenses (e.g. food, clothing, school fees, medicine and rental)
  • The lifestyle that the child has grown accustomed to. 
  • The age of the child.
  • The educational stage the child is in (e.g. pre-school or university).
  • The health of the child, children with medical disabilities, would require higher maintenance to look after them.
  • The income of both parents. Typically the parent who earns more will have to bear more of the child's expenses.

Is maintenance mandatory? No. If parties are able to agree on the terms of the divorce and if they agree that there shall be no maintenance paid then the payment of maintenance is not needed. Nevertheless, parents should always provide for their children even if they do not have care and control of the children. Please visit our page on Maintenance issues for more answers to your questions. Or you may contact us with your question. 

The Singapore Family Court will typically allow a child to decide with whom they wish to live with if they are matured enough. Generally if the child is about 10 years old the Courts may allow the child to decide. 

However the ultimate decision is made by the Singapore Courts which is of the view that the Child's needs are paramount.

The answer is no. Ultimately, the Court considers the welfare of the child. However, in the case of a young child, care and control usually go to the mother unless the father can show that he is a better caregiver and/or that the mother has neglected the child.

There is no definition or exhaustive list of factors when the Court considers what is in the best interest of the child. Generally, it involves the general well-being of the child and all aspects of the child’s upbringing, including physical, religious and moral upbringing. Each case will be decided on its own facts.

Financial capability is simply one factor which the Courts considers when deciding what is in the best interests of the child. The Court will nevertheless consider all other aspects of the child’s well-being as well as the child’s emotional, psychological and physical needs.

You and your spouse may agree on a split care and control order. Generally, this is not encouraged by the Courts because there is a strong desire to keep the siblings together post-divorce. However, this is possible if parents agree on such an arrangement and if the children’s welfare is not affected.

Generally, there are two types of access orders, namely reasonable access and supervised access. Within the category of reasonable access, you may also include overnight access. However, reasonable access does not automatically include overnight access. It is best to stipulate what happens during school holidays as well.

You should follow the access orders. If you access order does not state whether you can have half of the school holidays etc., you may wish to consider varying the access order to include school holidays.

You will have to contest this in Court, and you must show that you are able to capably care for the child during your proposed access timings. It may be difficult to obtain reasonable and overnight access if the child is still very young and/or is still being breastfed. However, access orders can also be incremental in order for you to eventually obtain overnight access.

Firstly, reasonable access does not mean overnight access. Secondly, you are generally allowed to take your child overseas. However, in order to avoid any disagreements, you should ensure that the Court order specifically states that you are allowed to take your child overseas during your access timings and that your spouse is to handover the child’s passport. SPEAK to a specialized divorce lawyer to find out more about your rights during access?

This is called a shared care and control order. Generally, this is not encouraged by the Courts as stability in a child’s routine is important when considering what is in the best interests of the child. However, this may be possible if parents agree on such an arrangement, and the Court finds that parents are still able to work together to do what is best for the child.

In such situations, access will be incremental. Your husband may not get overnight access for now, but in the future, he may get overnight access.

You may apply for a variation application. There is no time limit for this.

If you have filed for divorce at the Family Court, then you may apply for an interim application (temporary application) for the Court to decide when you can see the kids pending the outcome of the divorce.

It is extremely rare for the Court to totally restrict access. The Court may likely make an order for supervised access, i.e. for you to be present when the children see your spouse.

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