Child access: arrangements between divorced parents
Child access is granted to the parent who does not have physical custody of the child. In other words, the parent who does not have care and control of the child will be granted access to the child. Typically, the courts will grant access to the non-custodial parent as it is beneficial for the child to have the presence of bother parents in his/her life. However, the point of contention often lies in its frequency and duration – the quantum of access.
The court will grant orders for access with the child based on factors such as the child’s needs and wishes, as well as the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. The court will also assess if the access has to be supervised or unsupervised based on the specific circumstances of the family.
The court generally approves child access arrangements made by consent between parents and will only alter the same if necessary. Ideally, a good parenting plan will allow both parties to have sufficient time and access to the child. In the parenting plan, parents are free to agree on the parameters to the child access arrangements. .
To avoid any confusion, access periods should also be clearly defined. Some examples include:
● Weekday access
● Weekend access
● Public holiday access
● School holiday access
● Other special occasions
If there is a need for assisted transfers, especially in acrimonious divorce proceedings, the parenting plan can clearly specify how handover is to be conducted. As co-parenting will be a way of life for a few years till the child turns 21, it is essential that the custodial and non-custodial parent work together on an amicable level to ensure that the child’s interests are met.
If your ex-spouse does not follow the access arrangement, it is advised that you raise the concerns with them directly to explore if the issues can be resolved in a civil manner. However, should matters escalate due to the unreasonable behaviour of either parent, you can file an application in court against the alleged party for failing to comply with the terms of the access order. You must submit compelling evidence to prove that your spouse has intentionally disobeyed the court’s order.
Should your child refuse access to your ex-spouse, you should communicate with the other party directly and amicably to attempt at a positive resolution. If your child persistently refuses to meet the other parent, you must keep a record of such instances and seek appropriate support.
Travelling and relocation
Unless otherwise specified in the orders made by the court:-
Where travelling is concerned, the non-custodial parent cannot travel outside of Singapore unless he/she receives consent from the custodial parent. The custodial parent, on the other hand, may not need to seek the permission of the other party if he/she wishes to travel overseas with the child if the period of travel is less than a month. However, in both situations it is highly recommended that both parents are aware of any travel outside of Singapore even if there is no specific orders made by the court on this issue
In the event that the custodial-parent wishes to relocate with the child, the consent of the other parent must be sought in writing first. In the event that there is no agreement, an application must be made in Court to determine the issue of the child’s relocation.
Where a child is wrongfully removed from Singapore, an application may be made with reference to the Hague Convention and the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.