Podcast: Episode 1:All about Child Custody in Singapore

divorce podcast

Episode #1: Child Custody Issues

July 22, 2020

Gloria James-Civetta

  • How is Child Custody determined?
  • Different types of child custody
  • Determining the process of a Sole, Joint and Hybrid Custody
  • What is Care & Control?
  • What is Access
  • The Welfare principle of the Child
  • Grandparent`s involvement
  • Myths surrounding Child Custody
  • How much say does the child have in deciding custody?


Host Introducing Lawyers and Subject of Discussion:

Today, with us we have head lawyer Gloria James-Civetta and senior lawyer, Yvonne J. Schelkis-Sweeney. Our topic today is child custody issues, now a divorce can be messy and the ones usually who suffer the most are the children who get caught in between all of this. So let’s dive straight into the first question.

Host Question No. 1

When a couple go through the divorce process, how is child custody determined?

Ms Yvonne J. Schelkis-Sweeney

Well, the court has to focus on specific headings of custody, care and control and access. When the court determines this issue is always guided by the welfare principle, meaning that the interests of the child is always paramount.

Host Question No. 2

What are the different types of child custody, can you explain that?

Ms Yvonne J. Schelkis-Sweeney

There are Four (4) different types of custody orders.

  1. The first one, for sole custody, the custodial parent will make the major decisions without agreement of the other parent.
  2. The second one is joint custody, both parents must make major decisions for the child jointly. In the absence of any agreement, either of the parent can apply to court to determine any disputed issues.
  3. The third one is rather unique, it is a hybrid order. The custodial parent must consult or even obtain the consent of the non-custodial parent when making decisions. For example, schooling, which course in the school to take
  4. The last one which is a split custody order where custody of the siblings are split between parents. As a general rule, the family court does not like to split siblings because they are their safety network.

Host Question No. 3

How is this determined? If there’s going to be a sole, a joint or a hybrid sort of custody, what’s the process behind this?

Ms Yvonne J. Schelkis-Sweeney

The default position is that the court usually awards joint custody to both parents. As they want both parents to have an equal say in the major decisions in a child’s life to have basic co-parenting in place.

Host Question No. 4

What about Care & Control?

Ms Gloria James

This, I must say is a hotly contested area because each parent who files for a custody case, they want to have sole care and control of the child. They wouldn’t want the other parent to have the child at all. Typically, the care and control orders that the court can make would be usually sole care and control because they want to have up to child having consistency in their life so one parent should be responsible for the day to day affairs to the child, the care bringing.

Another aspect of care and control is the concept of shared care and control where both parents are involved in the child’s day to day upbringing and both parents would basically share the week in the child’s life

Host Follow Up Question to Question No. 4

Will that mean one parent would have the child for the week and then another parent for the weekends, is that usually, typically it?

Ms Gloria James

That is typically, there are also cases where one parent will have four (4) nights and the other parent will have three (3) nights of the week.

Host Question No. 5

How about access, can you tell me more about that?

Ms Gloria James

If one parent is given sole care and control, the other parent will be entitled to have access and it can be a weekend access, it can be alternate weekend access and that parents can also have weekday access.

Host Follow Up Question to Question No. 5

So it’s not so much shared parenting anymore, this person who has access it’s a different thing altogether, right?

Ms Gloria James

Depending on the nature of the case itself, you can have what is very commonly known as is the “Reasonable Access” where you have a fixed time and alternatively, if parties can agree and are very flexible they can enter into this what we call it “Liberal Access Arrangement

Host Question No. 6

So, how about the welfare principle of the child, can we talk about that?

Ms Gloria James

When the custody or upbringing of a child is in question, the court is asked to regard the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration. In order for the courts to consider this, the courts will be exploring what is the best interest principle.

The court would have to take into consideration, the following:-

  • What will be the benefits to the children of having a meaningful relationship with both parents? They need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm.
  • Who would be a better parent to take care of the child?
  • What is the child’s on-going relationship with his external family that will be the grandparents and other relatives?
  • Who is there on a day to day basis that is able to take care of the child and provide the needs of the child?

So, this will be what we call the welfare principles in determining who should be having the custody of the child

Host Follow Up Question to Question No. 6

So, How about extended family members, like grandparents. Are they allowed by law to see their grandchildren?

Ms Gloria James

Not by a law, but if the grandparent is very involved in the child’s day to day activities. Example, a grandparent will be fetching the child from school or taking the child to school or bringing the child for tuitions and taking care of the child during the daytime. If the grandparent continues to play a part in the day to day care arrangements of the child, the court is likely to favour the grandparent continuing to have this role in the child’s life by suggesting that the father or the mother can continue to have control of the child with the grandparents being the backup.

Host Question No. 8

What are the myths of child custody?

Ms Gloria James

  1. If the child is below 7 years old, it goes to the mother.
  2. if you have committed adultery it means that you’re not a fit parent to take care of the child

(Host clarifying doubts: Really? So it’s not a given that you’re if you have a cheating spouse the care of a child goes to the other parent who has not cheated, yeah.

Gloria Clarifying: No. it’s not.

Host proceeding further: Well, I just assume that would be the case)


Anything else that you can now share with us?

Ms Gloria James Elaborating on Child Custody

Had a very interesting case before where the mother sexual preference change. So, the father went on a custody battle, basically he feels that a mother won’t be a fit person to take care of the child. After 6 months of the court battle, the court had a custody evaluation report call for and despite the change in the mother’s sexual preference, the mother was deemed to be the better parent in caring for the kids.

Host Question No. 9

How much say does the child have in deciding custody?

Ms Yvonne J. Schelkis-Sweeney

It depends on the child’s views. The court will take into account the child’s views if the child has the age of awareness and the age of awareness is rather a subjective one. It depends on the maturity of the child. Sometimes, a child representative will be appointed to act as the voice of the child.

The child representative will interview the child extensively, get a report done to assist the court in determining which is the better parent to have care and control.

(Host Clarifying Doubts: So, generally the child does have a significant role in deciding which parents he or she wants to go to, right?
Ms Yvonne J. Schelkis-Sweeney: Yes, the child has a very significant voice and the court does listen to the child)

All right that’s just about it. Thank you very much once again, ladies. Thank you for listening, we hope this is giving you a better understanding of the issues you may have had pertaining to the topic. For further questions please. Feel free to contact us, our contact details can be found on our website at https://www.gjclaw.com.sg.