One of the most contentious issues that parents often face during the divorce / separation process is determining child custody arrangements.
Whether it’s joint custody, sole custody, or some other type of arrangement, figuring out what’s in the child’s best interests can be difficult and complex.
In this article, we’ll look at what you can expect during a child custody battle in Singapore and how to prepare accordingly.
Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Singapore
In Singapore, the court can order several types of child custody arrangements. These include:
Sole custody: In this arrangement, one parent has complete legal control and responsibility over the Child’s long term decisions which includes education, medical and religion.
Joint custody: In this arrangement, both parents share legal custody and decision-making responsibilities for the Child’s long term decisions including education, medical and religion.
Hybrid custody: This arrangement is a combination of sole and joint custody, where one parent has the sole decision making power for the Child’s long term decisions including education, medical and religion in the event of any disagreement(s).
Care and control: This refers to the parent whom the Child lives with.
Access: This refers to the right to visit or spend time with the Child.
Consider which arrangement is in the Child’s welfare by providing the Child with stability and safety. Compromise where possible and consider whether joint custody is in your child’s best interests
Whether you decide to file for sole custody after careful consideration, preparing for what lies ahead is crucial.
Factors Considered in Child Custody Cases
When deciding on child custody arrangements, the court will consider many factors. These may include:
- The child’s welfare and best interests
- The child’s wishes (depending on their age and maturity level)
- Each parent’s ability to care for and provide for the child
- The existing relationship between the child and each parent
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse
- The child’s education and healthcare needs
- The potential impact on the child’s stability and security
Preparing for a Child Custody Battle
Preparation means doing your homework if you’re anticipating a child custody battle. Start by hiring an experienced family law lawyer and taking the time to understand the child custody laws in Singapore.
Here are some steps you can take:
Understand your legal rights and obligations
Speak with a family lawyer to understand the laws and regulations surrounding child custody arrangements in Singapore.
Document your involvement in your child’s life
Record your involvement in your child’s life, including activities you participate in, events you attend, and any other relevant information that can prove your commitment to your child’s well-being.
Gather evidence of any misconduct
If your partner has engaged in any behaviour that could be considered harmful to your child (e.g. substance abuse, neglect, or abuse), gather evidence to support your claim.
Maintain open communication
Maintaining open communication with your ex-partner throughout the process is important to minimize conflict and work towards a mutually agreeable arrangement.
Consider mediation or alternative dispute resolution
Mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution may be a more effective and less adversarial way to agree on child custody arrangements.
Maintain a stable and supportive living environment for your child
The court will consider the stability and quality of each parent’s home environment when making custody decisions. Ensure your home is clean, safe, and supportive of your child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Demonstrate an ability to meet your child’s needs
Be prepared to show the court that you have the resources and ability to meet your child’s basic needs, including food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, and any special needs.
Before making a decision, the judge will consider the following factors:
- Any abusive, neglectful, or violent behaviour by either parent.
- The ability of each parent to provide for the children’s physical, emotional, and medical needs. The court may also consider the opinions of character witnesses on behalf of each parent.
- How will the children be affected by continuing or disrupting the current custody arrangement?
- The ability of each parent to provide a stable, loving environment.
- The children’s wishes (if they are considered old enough and able to express their own desires).
- The level of adjustment and attachment between the children and their home, school environment, and community/neighbourhood.
- The living accommodations of each parent’s home. In some cases, the courts may want to know that the children will each have their room.
- The mental and physical health of each parent, as well as the children.
- The quality of the relationship between the children and each parent.
- The willingness of each parent to support and facilitate the children’s ongoing relationship with the other parent. This matters to the court because they want to know that neither of you will stand in the way of your children’s relationship with your ex.
- The wishes of each parent. The courts will want to know what each of you prefers. While that doesn’t mean your wish will be granted, you should expect the judge to ask for each parent’s preferences as they weigh their decision.
- Whether either parent has provided the majority of the children’s care up to this point, if one parent provides the bulk of care while the other travels much of the time, that could impact the judge’s decision.
- Whether false allegations of abuse or neglect have been brought by either parent against the other.
- Your children’s ages. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule, the Courts generally prefer to maintain stability and structure, especially regarding young children. As children grow older, the courts tend to be more willing to consider alternative arrangements.
In some cases, should the Court be of the view that it is in the Child’s welfare, the Court may call for a Child Custody Evaluation Report.
Child custody battles can be emotionally and financially draining. Still, with the right preparation and guidance, you can better navigate the process and secure the best possible outcome for your child. Remember to keep the child’s best interests at heart and consult a family lawyer to ensure you have all the resources and information you need to make informed decisions.
We’re here for you
At Gloria James-Civetta & Co, we aim to find a solution that will work for you and your family. Our matrimonial law team will provide a consultation tailored to your circumstances and needs.