Child Custody And The Law in Singapore
CHILDREN AND THE LAW. What is the position in the Singapore context for the following ?
There are, altogether four types of custodies that may be granted by the courts.
- Sole Custody Order– The custodial parent is the sole decision maker of the welfare of the child.
- Joint custody order– Both parents are decision makers of the welfare of the child.
- Hybrid order– Custodial parent must consult the non-custodial parents on matters pertaining to the welfare of the child.
- Split Custody order– custody of one or more siblings is granted to one parent and the custody of the other siblings is granted to the other parent.
How does the court decide which kind of custody is best suited for each case?
The court decides the best parent for the child to live with based on legal documents such as affidavits and sworn documents presented to the court. The judge may choose to interview the children directly. In some cases a welfare report will be obtained.
The ruling will be based on what best serves the needs of the children and not the parents. Considerable effort will be made to ensure the children are not placed in the home of a substance abuser or where they will suffer any type of physical or verbal abuse that might prove to be detrimental to their welfare. One is best adviced to consult and be guided by an experienced divorce lawyer for options and likely outcomes that can be expected.
Care and Control
Care and control is the right to have children live with you and to make daily essential decisions about them. It normally lies with one parent, the custodial parent and for practical reasons, the non-custodial parent who does not have care and control of the child will have access to the child.
There are two types of access orders. Supervised and non-supervised access orders. Access orders are generally unsupervised. The non-custodial parent will be able to spend time on his own with the child without any third party supervising the access. If access is to be supervised, it is generally for the reasons below.
- to protect the child from possible physical and emotional;
- to assess the relationship of the non-custodial parent with the child, especially if contact has been infrequent; or
- to strengthen the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent
Maintenance and Custody
It is the joint duty of the parents to maintain the child and to ensure that the basic necessities are met. The ratio of the parties’ incomes act as a determining factor in the percentage ratio of the contribution.
What if the child is not a child of the marriage but accepted as a child of the marriage ?
The law treats the child as a child of the marriage, and parents have a duty to maintain and take care of the child.
What is CFRC? and how does the Family Court of Singapore deal with this ?
CFRC means child focused resolution centre, is located at Central Mall, a new wing of the Family Court jurisdiction. CFRC is a mandatory mediation and counselling for parents to attend with their lawyers for the main purpose of resolving in an amicable manner on issues concerning any children under 14 years of age.
Injunction – to prevent unlawful removal of the child
This is usually granted at the ex-parte stage, and subsequently resolved when there’s a resolution of the custody and access issues.
Child Abduction aka Child kidnapping
With the formation of the Central Authority of Singapore, and Singapore’s accession to the Hague Convention and enshrined in statute ie Child Abduction Act, 2010, children’s issues are no longer a nightmare.
What is the position with illegitimate children, orphans in view of death of parents?
The position is governed under the Guardianship of Infants Act and the Women’s Charter.
In the event of a divorce, is there a duty to maintain a child that is not yours but has been accepted as a child of the marriage?
Reference is made to the case of AJE v AJF  3 SLR 1177 The High Court ruled that Under s 70(1) of the Women’s Charter if the child was already adequately maintained by his or her parents, there was no duty on the non-parent to provide further maintenance for the child. However, if the child received some maintenance from the parents which was insufficient for his or her requirements, then the non-parent who had accepted the child as a member of his family had the duty to provide the child with such additional maintenance within his means as was reasonable for the child.
What does Section 70(1) state?
That a person who “has accepted a child … as a member of his family” would have a duty to continue to maintain the child “while he remains a child” and not while the child continued to be accepted as a member of the family. The person had no right to opt out of the duty because s 70 did not provide that after a person had accepted a child as a member of his family, he could change his mind and stop maintaining the child.