Children in Divorce
Divorce proceedings can become considerably more complicated when there are children involved, and hiring a specialist divorce lawyer can ensure that you obtain the best parenting outcome.
When making child orders, the Singapore courts prioritise the child’s best interests over and above each parent’s wishes. This is known as the “welfare principle”.
The court decides what the child’s best interests are by paying special attention to things such as protecting the child from harm, the child’s views and relationships, the parents’ ability to provide for the child etc.
Custody gives you the right to make major decisions for the child. The three main areas of major decision-making are:
- Medical (e.g. hospitalisation, medical procedures etc.)
- Education (e.g. choice of school, enrichment classes, attendance on school trips etc.)
- Religion (e.g. religious instruction, attendance at religious places of worship etc.)
The Family Court generally make an order for joint custody, as the default position is that it is in the child’s best interests to have both parents involved in their lives.
Care & Control and Access Orders
If you have care and control of your child, you will live with your child on a day-to-day basis and make everyday decisions for the child.
Care and control can be shared or sole. In shared care and control situations, the child will live with either parent on a fixed rotation or schedule.
In sole care and control situations, the other parent without care and control will be allowed access to the child. The amount of access a parent is allowed will depend on the child’s needs and wishes, as well as the parent’s relationship history with the child.
Other Special Considerations
Both parents have a legal responsibility to provide financially for the child until the child turns 21. This applies regardless of who has custody. In practice, the court usually orders parents to support the child until he or she completes tertiary education.
Where divorcing parties have children under 21, both parents have to undergo compulsory counselling and mediation. This service is provided free of charge by the Family Court.
Where a HDB flat is involved, a divorced parent under 35 who has care and control of the child may be allowed to retain the HDB flat.
The court may order special child welfare reports to be prepared before making a decision. Interviews may be conducted with the child, and other close relatives, friends or teachers who are in frequent contact with the child and the child’s family.