Divorce with Children: Everything you Need to Know

divorce with children n singapore

How Does the Process of Divorce with Children Work?
In Singapore, filing for divorce with children involves either simplified or normal track proceedings.

In simplified proceedings, both parties agree on all terms, including child custody and assets division, leading to a more straightforward process.

For normal track proceedings, disagreements on key issues mean the case goes through a more detailed court process involving mediation and possible litigation to resolve disputes. This can include multiple court hearings to determine appropriate arrangements for the children’s welfare, living arrangements, and financial support.

Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce with Children

In Singapore, an uncontested divorce with children requires agreement between spouses on key aspects of their divorce settlement to ensure a smooth process. Both parties must concur on the following:


: Determining who will make significant long-term decisions affecting the children’s lives, i.e., education, religion and major medical decisions.

Care and Control

: Deciding the children’s care arrangements, where and with whom the children will reside and will make the day-to-day decisions for the children, i.e., what to eat, what to wear.

Access Arrangements

: The specifics of how and when the non-care and control parent will spend time with the children.

Child Maintenance

: The amount and terms of financial support for the children.

Other Considerations

To facilitate a fast-track divorce, besides resolving child-related issues, couples must also agree on several other important considerations:

Reason for Divorce

: A fast-track divorce requires both parties to agree on the facts that support the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, such as adultery, separation, unreasonable behaviour, or desertion.

Division of Matrimonial Assets

: A comprehensive agreement on dividing joint and sole assets, including property, investments, money, and other financial assets.

Spousal Maintenance

: Consensus on whether maintenance is necessary, and if so, the amount and duration.

husband wife

Interim Orders

In some cases, interim orders in divorce cases involving children can be critical. These orders address urgent issues relating to the children’s care arrangements, safety and welfare during the divorce proceedings.

Interim Custody, Care and Control (ICCC) orders address immediate concerns such as interim custody, care arrangements, child maintenance, and access arrangements pending the finalization of the divorce, which is concluded with the issuance of a Final Judgment. Interim orders ensure that children’s needs and welfare are protected while the divorce proceedings are ongoing.

There are usually three issues to be determined in an ICCC order:

Custody of the Children

: Who holds the legal right to make major decisions about the children’s welfare, education, and healthcare.

Care and Control

: Which parent will the children live with daily.


: This is the arrangement for the non-custodial parent to spend time with the children, which can be supervised if necessary to ensure the children’s safety.

To apply for an ICCC order in Singapore, a parent must file an application under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1934 with the Family Justice Courts detailing the children’s current care, the need for the order, and the desired custody arrangements.

The other parent can respond and suggest alternatives. A case conference usually follows, during which the court may suggest mediation or counselling to settle disputes amicably. If unresolved, a hearing is held, and the court decides on the interim orders.

Creating a Divorce Settlement Agreement

In a divorce involving children, addressing issues such as custody, care and control maintenance, and living arrangements is essential.

If you and your spouse agree, you can draft a settlement agreement to expedite your divorce through a fast-track process. This agreement sets out the terms of your divorce.

Many couples achieve this through mediation or negotiations with their lawyers’ help.

How Child Custody Is Determined- The Welfare Principle

In any proceedings before any court where the custody or upbringing of a child is in question, the court’s first and paramount consideration is the best interests and welfare of the child. The primary goal is to ensure a stable and nurturing environment for the child during and after the divorce.

It includes the child’s moral and religious welfare, physical well-being, ties of affection, happiness, comfort, and security.

The factors to consider in determining the welfare of the child. These factors are not exhaustive and include:

  • continuity of care given to the child;
  • the child’s sense of security;
  • the child’s wishes about who he should live with;
  • the parent’s wishes;
  • the age of the child;
  • the race and religion of the child;
  • the race and religion of the parents;
  • material circumstances of the parents and
  • that siblings should not be separated.

In child custody disputes, courts do not automatically favour mothers; however, they often grant care and control to mothers given the maternal bond, especially for infants and young children.

This consideration is mainly because mothers are typically the primary caregivers, particularly in the child’s early years. However, each case is assessed individually based on the child’s specific needs and circumstances.

How Child Maintenance is Determined

The courts use a holistic consideration of various factors rather than a fixed formula to determine child maintenance.

These factors include;

  • the child’s financial needs,
  • the income and financial resources of the parents,
  • the child’s standard of living and
  • any special needs of the child.

The courts look at the full context of the family’s circumstances to ensure that the maintenance awarded reasonably supports the child’s welfare and matches the family’s living standard.

The courts often use the income ratio approach, where both parents work to determine child maintenance. This method considers the respective incomes of both parents to establish a fair proportion of each parent’s contribution towards the child’s expenses.

The goal is to proportionately divide the financial responsibility based on each parent’s earning capacity and financial means, ensuring that the child maintains a standard of living similar to what they would have experienced if the family had remained intact.

An Ideal Divorce Outcome – Mediation and Negotiation

Mediation Before Filing for Divorce

Mediation emphasizes cooperation, with a neutral third party facilitating discussions to reach a mutual agreement. It involves not only direct communication between the parties but also negotiation through their respective divorce lawyers.

This dual approach effectively addresses both personal and legal aspects, allowing for a comprehensive resolution that respects both parties’ viewpoints and legal rights and setting the stage for a more amicable post-divorce relationship.

Mediation after filing for divorce through the normal track

The Family Justice Courts in Singapore encourage the resolution of family disputes primarily through mediation, facilitated by the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Division. These mediation sessions are conducted by appointed judges, staff family mediators, or volunteer legal professionals, collectively referred to as FDR mediators.

Negotiation – the first step in custody disputes

Negotiating with your spouse can improve and sustain your relationship, as reaching an agreement often strengthens your bond.

You and your spouse may be able to draft a parenting plan on your own and later have it ratified by the court. However, it is crucial to involve lawyers in drafting these agreements to ensure clarity and prevent ambiguities or errors that could lead to future disputes.

Getting Legal Help

At GJC Law, our team of matrimonial lawyers is committed to thoroughly understanding the unique aspects of each case related to child welfare.

We pride ourselves on training in Litigation, Mediation, Negotiations, Collaborative Practice, Conflict Resolution, Counselling, and Coaching.

This helps our practice provide additional valued services to our clients, allowing them to consider various options and avenues for moving their cases forward.

Read More on Child Custody Issues

Child Custody and The Law in Singapore
Child Custody Battles: What to Expect and How to Prepare
Understanding Child Custody in Singapore
Mistakes to Avoid in Child Custody Matters
5 Important Questions About Child Custody
9 Factors Affecting Child Custody in a Divorce
Misconceptions Concerning Child Custody
Do Mothers Always Get Custody of the Children?
Child Custody for Fathers
All you need to know about Divorce Mediation in Singapore

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