What is the Court Criteria Governing the Issue?
The courts do recognize maternal bond and gives it appropriate consideration. However, this does not go as far as a presumption that the mother automatically gains guardianship status of their young children.
The decision mostly goes by the facts of the case.
In instances where there is seemingly no reason to pick one parent over the other, and the children are of an exceptionally young age, the Court may appoint guardianship to the mother. This was explained in Chan Kah Cheong Kenneth v Teoh Kheng Yau: “(for) children so tender…(aged 4 and under 2), at least for the time being, (be) under maternal care, with substantial exposure to the father”.
In instances where the father has shown to give greater concern for the child than the mother, such as in the case of Tan Siew Kee v Chua Ah Boey, the High Court was prepared to give custody of an infant boy to his father as compared to the mother.