Incarcerated Parent in Singapore: Impact on Divorce and Children


Parental incarceration refers to the event where either or both parents are imprisoned. This can impact the well-being of the child, especially so when a divorce is also involved.

In this article, we explore different scenarios involving incarcerated parents and how they impact divorce proceedings in Singapore and children in post-divorce settings.

Divorcing an incarcerated parent in Singapore

If the parent is already in jail, you can file for divorce in Singapore on any one of the reasonable facts.

The incarcerated parent will have the right to counter certain terms in the divorce with the help of a lawyer in Singapore or he can also act for himself. Where children are concerned, however, the court will grant physical custody to the other parent as the incarcerated parent will be unable to care for the child while in prison.

Should the court find the parent unfit to care for the child, it will place the child in the custody of an approved relative.

In terms of legal custody, the court commonly grants joint custody as it is beneficial for the child’s well-being to have both parents around throughout their childhood.

However, if the circumstances are as such that they may not be in the interest of the child’s mental and emotional health, the court may grant sole custody to the other parent instead.

Read More: Understanding Child Custody: Sole Custody & Joint Custody

When custodial parent is jailed

After a divorce, the parent who has been given care and control – i.e. physical custody – of the children are expected to take care of their daily needs such as food, transportation and shelter.

However, should the custodial parent be imprisoned for a long sentence, the court will need to intervene to ensure that the child continues to receive adequate care.

The non-custodial parent (the party who is granted access) may request emergency custody of the child upon learning of the imprisonment.

Should the court find the parent fit to care for the child, physical custody may be transferred over. However, if the court does not find the parent suitable, the child – who is still below 21 years of age – may be put in the care of an approved relative. If all alternatives are exhausted, the child may be placed in foster care in Singapore.

When non-custodial parent is jailed

In the event that the non-custodial parent is jailed, he/she will not be denied access to meet the child. New access arrangements can be made to allow the child to continue his/her relationship with the parent in supervised settings.

The custodial parent must not deny the child access to the other party as this goes against the order of the court.

However, depending on the facts of the case, the court may deny the child access to the incarcerated parent if it does not protect the well-being of the child.

If you know of incarcerated parents who are concerned about their divorce and the custody of their children, drop a note and speak to our lawyers in Singapore.

Read more: 3 Myths Of Child Custody

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