Lie Chin Chin

Custody Care and Control of Children in Divorce Proceedings

During divorce proceedings, the care and living arrangements of your children would be one of the pressing matters to attend to. The Court can make orders on custody, care and control and access to your children. When the Court considers these matters in a divorce, their priority is the welfare and best interests of your children.

 

What is Custody?

 

Custody is the right to have a say in the major decisions relating to the upbringing and education of your children.

 

Joint Custody 

 

In most cases, the parties to the marriage are granted joint custody of their children. Both you and your spouse will have the right to jointly decide on major issues relating to your children. If parties are unable to agree on the issues, either parent can apply to court for a decision on the disputed issues. 

 

Sole Custody

 

The parent with sole custody can make major decisions for the children without the agreement of the other parent.

The Court grants sole custody only in exceptional cases, such as cases where one parent has physically, sexually or emotionally abused the children. Where there are exceptional circumstances which make it undesirable that the children be entrusted to either parent, the Court may grant custody to any other suitable relative of the children.

“In recent times, parties are usually granted joint custody, meaning that both parents still have the right to jointly decide custody issues relating to the child(ren). This is because the Court recognises that unlike marital relationships which can be ended through divorce, the blood ties between each parent and the child(ren) are not, and should not be, as easily severable.”

– Lie Chin Chin Instant Legal Protection for Your Family, page 134

Split Custody


Custody of one or more children is granted to one party and custody of the other children is granted to the other parent after the divorce in Singapore.

This order is rare and only given when it can be shown how this would be a preferred order that serves the best interest of the children. 


Conditional Custody


Sole custody is granted with conditions e.g. non-custodial parents must be consulted on certain matters like religion or marriage and so on.

Child Care After Divorce in Singapore

In a Court case, Ms CX asked the Court to grant her sole custody of her child. She alleged that her husband, Mr CY, constantly failed to pay for their child’s maintenance and medical expenses. She also stated that he used foul language and abused her in front of the child. Ms CX also alleged that Mr CY’s affairs with other women would be a negative influence on their child. However, Mr CY exhibited a desire to maintain contact with the child and to maintain the child. 

 

The Court found that Ms CX’s allegations were insufficient to warrant granting her sole custody of the child as parental responsibility was for life and neither parent had a better right over the child. The Court looked at what would be best for the child and found that in this situation, both parents clearly loved the child and could eventually cooperate for the benefit of the child. The Court emphasised that it would look to act in the child’s best interests and stated that the child has a right to the guidance of both his parents. The Court thus dismissed Ms CX’s claim for sole custody and granted joint custody.

 

What is Care and Control?

 

Care and control is the right to have a say in the day to day decisions of your children’s lives, and it also determines whom the children stay with on a daily basis. 

 

Care and Control to One Parent

 

The Court decides with whom the children should stay based on what is in their best interests. The Court may consider any factors that would affect its determination of the best interests of the children. 

 

If the children are young, the Court usually orders that they stay with the mother unless there are factors showing the mother to be an unsuitable care giver. In the case of older children, the Court will likely give more weight to the wishes of the children. 

 

Care and Control

The Court does not normally split up the care and control of the siblings . For example, the court will not incline towards an order granting the father care and control of the son and the mother care and control of the daughter. Parties seeking orders deviating from the norm will have to show good reasons that the orders they seek are in the best interests of the children.

 

The Court may be reluctant to order a sale of the matrimonial home if the children would otherwise have no place to stay. However, the Court may have no choice but to order the house to be sold if the party having care and control of the children have no means to retain the house, for example, by being unable to take over the mortgage loan.

 

What is an Access Order?

 

Access is the right of the non-custodial parent  to visit and interact with the children. The Court will consider the practicality of the access arrangements with regards to the children’s welfare and how reasonable these arrangements are. Usually, access may be given on part of the weekends, half of the school holidays and alternate public holidays and birthdays of the children.

 

Supervised Access 

 

The  access order may also have conditions such as supervised access where the guardian of the children or a third party must be present during the access sessions after the divorce. This tends to be granted only in special situations such as where the parent and children need to get used to each other or in cases where there has been abuse involved. 

 

The Court may order liberal or reasonable access and allow the parents to work out the access arrangements between themselves. Alternatively, the Court may order fixed access times if the parents are unable to coordinate their schedules with respect to access or are unable to reach an agreement regarding access arrangements.

 

Case Study of amendment of an access order:

 

In a previous case we have handled, the children of the marriage lived with Ms H. The Court granted the ex-husband, Mr W, overnight access to the children on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. However, after the first week of carrying out these orders, the parties found that this arrangement was too taxing for their children, who were being ferried from parent to parent within a short span of time. 

 

The parties thus came to an agreement between themselves for the children’s sake: Mr W would have overnight access on alternate weekends and would be able to pick the children from school every Thursday and Friday. The Court was more than willing to amend its order to accommodate this agreement as it was for the benefit of the children. Furthermore, upon hearing that during their time with Mr W, the children would occasionally fail to do their homework, the Court also warned Mr W that he would have to ensure that their school work would not be adversely affected. We thus see that the Court makes orders that would be in the children’s best interests.

 

Structured Access 

 

Here is an example of how a Court order for access can be structured: 

Parent A has care and control of the children. The Court may order that Parent A is to pick the children from school every Monday and Tuesday, whereas Parent B is to pick the children from school and send them back to Parent A’s house every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Parent B also gets to spend Saturdays, from 9am onwards, with the children, but must send them back to Parent A’s house by 10pm on the same day.

 

Liberal Access

 

The following is an example of a more liberal access order: 

 

Parent A has care and control of the children. The Court could order that Parent A is to pick the children from school every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Parent B is to pick the children from school every Thursday and have dinner with them before sending them back to Parent A’s house by 8pm. On Fridays, Parent B can pick the children from school and have overnight access. Parent B will only need to send the children back to Parent A’s house the next day (Saturday) by 7pm.

 

Have any more questions about divorce in Singapore as well as child custody? We will gladly provide legal advice. Consult a good divorce lawyer today!

In a Court case, Ms CX asked the Court to grant her sole custody of her child. She alleged that her husband, Mr CY, constantly failed to pay for their child’s maintenance and medical expenses. She also stated that he used foul language and abused her in front of the child. Ms CX also alleged that Mr CY’s affairs with other women would be a negative influence on their child. However, Mr CY exhibited a desire to maintain contact with the child and to maintain the child. 

The Court found that Ms CX’s allegations were insufficient to warrant granting her sole custody of the child as parental responsibility was for life and neither parent had a better right over the child. The Court looked at what would be best for the child and found that in this situation, both parents clearly loved the child and could eventually cooperate for the benefit of the child. The Court emphasised that it would look to act in the child’s best interests and stated that the child has a right to the guidance of both his parents. The Court thus dismissed Ms CX’s claim for sole custody and granted joint custody.

What is Care and Control?

 

Care and control is the right to have a say in the day to day decisions of your children’s lives, and it also determines whom the children stay with on a daily basis. 

Care and Control to One Parent

 

The Court decides with whom the children should stay based on what is in their best interests. The Court may consider any factors that would affect its determination of the best interests of the children. 

If the children are young, the Court usually orders that they stay with the mother unless there are factors showing the mother to be an unsuitable care giver. In the case of older children, the Court will likely give more weight to the wishes of the children. 

Care and Control

 

The Court does not normally split up the care and control of the siblings . For example, the court will not incline towards an order granting the father care and control of the son and the mother care and control of the daughter. Parties seeking orders deviating from the norm will have to show good reasons that the orders they seek are in the best interests of the children.

The Court may be reluctant to order a sale of the matrimonial home if the children would otherwise have no place to stay. However, the Court may have no choice but to order the house to be sold if the party having care and control of the children have no means to retain the house, for example, by being unable to take over the mortgage loan.

What is an Access Order?

 

Access is the right of the non-custodial parent  to visit and interact with the children. The Court will consider the practicality of the access arrangements with regards to the children’s welfare and how reasonable these arrangements are. Usually, access may be given on part of the weekends, half of the school holidays and alternate public holidays and birthdays of the children.

Supervised Access 

 

The  access order may also have conditions such as supervised access where the guardian of the children or a third party must be present during the access sessions after the divorce. This tends to be granted only in special situations such as where the parent and children need to get used to each other or in cases where there has been abuse involved. 

The Court may order liberal or reasonable access and allow the parents to work out the access arrangements between themselves. Alternatively, the Court may order fixed access times if the parents are unable to coordinate their schedules with respect to access or are unable to reach an agreement regarding access arrangements.

Case Study of amendment of an access order:

 

In a previous case we have handled, the children of the marriage lived with Ms H. The Court granted the ex-husband, Mr W, overnight access to the children on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. However, after the first week of carrying out these orders, the parties found that this arrangement was too taxing for their children, who were being ferried from parent to parent within a short span of time. 

The parties thus came to an agreement between themselves for the children’s sake: Mr W would have overnight access on alternate weekends and would be able to pick the children from school every Thursday and Friday. The Court was more than willing to amend its order to accommodate this agreement as it was for the benefit of the children. Furthermore, upon hearing that during their time with Mr W, the children would occasionally fail to do their homework, the Court also warned Mr W that he would have to ensure that their school work would not be adversely affected. We thus see that the Court makes orders that would be in the children’s best interests.

Structured Access 

 

Here is an example of how a Court order for access can be structured: 

Parent A has care and control of the children. The Court may order that Parent A is to pick the children from school every Monday and Tuesday, whereas Parent B is to pick the children from school and send them back to Parent A’s house every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Parent B also gets to spend Saturdays, from 9am onwards, with the children, but must send them back to Parent A’s house by 10pm on the same day.

Liberal Access

 

The following is an example of a more liberal access order: 

Parent A has care and control of the children. The Court could order that Parent A is to pick the children from school every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Parent B is to pick the children from school every Thursday and have dinner with them before sending them back to Parent A’s house by 8pm. On Fridays, Parent B can pick the children from school and have overnight access. Parent B will only need to send the children back to Parent A’s house the next day (Saturday) by 7pm.

Have any more questions about divorce in Singapore as well as child custody? We will gladly provide legal advice. Consult a good divorce lawyer today!

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