5 Things you Should Know about the Finances of Joint Custody Arrangements in Singapore
Parenting is a lifetime responsibility, and it does not end with the parents getting divorced. Child custody, more often than not, is the biggest area of contention in a divorce proceeding. Parents may agree to joint custody of the child or sole custody to one parent, depending on the situation.
When parents cannot agree on their child's custody, they enlist the help of a lawyer, specialising in family law, to settle the matter in court. These lawyers provide legal advice on how to navigate child custody proceedings. Plus, they also provide valuable advice on significant issues like child access and child visitation rights.
When divorced parents get joint custody of a child, both of them are granted the authority to take major decisions for their child. Parents are also legally obligated (whether divorced or not), in Singapore, to support their children financially until they reach the age of twenty-one (21). In some circumstances, children above twenty-one may still be entitled to financial support.
Therefore, it is imperative as a divorcing party to understand your financial obligations even before child custody has been determined.
Here are five (5) things that you should know about the finances of joint custody agreements arrangements in Singapore:
It is important to track and share child-related caring expenses
Generally, you should track your spending and finances for your child. More often than not, spending is a divisive topic between ex-spouses.
Therefore, where spending on the children is involved, proper documentation should, where possible, be kept to ensure that your expenses are properly accounted for. This is particularly important when spouses have different income levels, and one spouse is relying significantly on the other; that is also why maintenance for children plays a critical role in ensuring one party’s financial commitment to the children.
When raising children, there are several minor expenses that, when totaled, add up to big expenses. From doctor visits to football practice, these seemingly minor expenses can chalk up, causing a significant financial burden. Thus, for example, divorced parents may consider using online apps to track their finances related to their children.
Related Article: Determine your Child`s Monthly Maintenance Costs (Download App)
Divorced parents should have a personal emergency fund
As a married couple, it is only natural that both parties become comfortable sharing family-related expenses. However, once you are divorced, you need to quickly get used to managing the household as a single parent. It is recommended to have at least six (6) to twelve (12) months’ savings in a personal emergency fund. If you cannot set aside such an amount immediately, it is ideal to slowly save up over some time. This personal emergency fund can be extremely helpful in keeping you financially secure during exigencies.
Related Article: 3 Common Financial Issues in Divorce in Singapore
Regular financial check-ins with your former spouse is important
When you are co-parenting, it is important to speak with your former spouse on important financial matters regularly. For example, in the current Covid-19 pandemic, many people are getting retrenched. If such a situation arises with either you or your former spouse, it can severely impact your ability to provide for and/or manage your children's finances. You may not want to speak with your former spouse regarding personal problems, but discussing financial matters is imperative when considering your child’s best interests.
Choose your children's health coverage with care
Your child’s health is of utmost importance. Hence, you should choose your child’s healthcare insurance plan with care, and be attentive to your child’s medical needs. This would be especially important if your child suffers from a health condition. Both parents should generally keep track of all healthcare costs for the child, including insurance premiums and doctor visitation costs.
Entitlement to Parenthood Tax Rebate (for Singapore tax residents)
Singapore tax residents (which includes Singapore citizens and permanent residents) are entitled to a Parenthood Tax Rebate (PTR) to encourage them to have more children. Whether you are married or divorced, you may claim PTR once for each child, the sum which increases for each child you have. Do check out IRAS’s websites for further details on how to qualify for the PTR scheme.
If you have decided to get a divorce, the first thing you should do is hire a good Singapore divorce lawyer. A good divorce lawyer will help you navigate the divorce and child custody process to resolve potential issues (including any financial concerns) in the future.