Applying to be a Legal Guardian in Singapore
How do I become a child's guardian?
Parents may not always be best suited to care for their children. This may stem from incarceration, insufficient income to support the child or even instances of domestic violence. In these cases, a relative of the child (i.e. an aunt or grandparent) can apply to the Court to assume guardianship of the child.
Applying for guardianship of a child
The individual seeking guardianship of the child may proceed with a guardianship application. However, it must be shown that it would be in the best interests and welfare of the child for custody to be granted to him or her.
What are some of the factors that the Court will consider in granting a guardianship application?
- The child's physical, emotional and educational needs;
- The child's physical and emotional safety;
- The capacity of each parent to provide for the child's needs and ensure the child's safety;
- The child's relationship with each of their parents and with any other caregiver;
- The need to ensure a continuing relationship between the child and their parents; and
- The effect of any changes to the child's life.
These factors merely guide the Court to decide whether the guardian should be granted custody of the child. In the absence of compelling factors, the Court will be slow to hand over custody of the child to a non-parent.
The judicial policy remains as such –
Without proof that it would be in the child's best interests to be handed to a non-parent, both parents should continue to play a role in their child's life.
With that said, while factors such as domestic violence are compelling arguments for the Court to grant a non-parent guardianship of the child, mere allegations of abuse without any further substantiation is unlikely to sway the Court to grant this application.
The application must consist of concrete evidence such as;
- Psychologist reports,
- Police reports,
- Pictures of any injuries sustained by the child or
- Personal Protection Orders.
A non-guardian of the child can seek personal Protection Orders.
This can be applied for on an expedited basis if necessary. For a PPO to be granted, it will have to be shown to the Court that the parent has inflicted hurt or abused the child and that the parent is likely to hurt the child again.
Once a PPO is granted, especially to both parents, the Court will be inclined to grant the guardian custody of the child because the parents are ill-suited to care for the child.