WOMEN’S CHARTER & CHILD CUSTODY

In children custody issues, the Singapore Family Justice Court judge will only consider what is in the best interests of the children when deciding custody, care and control and access.

children custody -image of broken home

WOMEN’S CHARTER – CHILD CUSTODY

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Children custody is the most emotional and painful issue in a divorce.  But no matter how difficult the divorce, both parents should continue to play important roles in the children’s upbringing.

As Debbie Ong JC observed in AZB v AZC [2016] SGHCF 1:

“The parenting of children is one of the most central family obligations regulated by the Women’s Charter (Cap 353, 2009 Rev Ed) (“the Women’s Charter”). This responsibility can be found in s 46 of the Women’s Charter, which succinctly encapsulates the most fundamental obligations of a couple entering into the marriage institution. Section 46 of the Women’s Charter provides that “[u]pon the solemnization of marriage, the husband and the wife shall be mutually bound to co-operate with each other in safeguarding the interests of the union and in caring and providing for the children.”

Care and control

In children custody issues, the Singapore Family Justice Court judge will only consider what is in the best interests of the children when deciding custody, care and control and access.

The Family Court judge will usually pay attention to:

  • who has been looking after the child.
  • what is the child’s relationship to you and your spouse
  • who the child is closer to
  • what are your working hours like.
  • What is the child’s daily routine.
  • how you plan to care for the children in the future
  • who can offer the most stability for the children

The courts may ask the Ministry of Social and Family Development  to conduct an investigation and produce a “Social Report” before deciding on custody matters. A Child Welfare Officer from the Ministry will conduct the investigation and produce a report for the court.  Depending on what the court directs, the reports may be a  Social Welfare Report,. Custody Evaluation Report, Access Evaluation Report or Assisted Access Report.

If the child is of sufficient maturity, the court may also speak to the child to ascertain the child’s wishes.  See our previous article on ‘DO THE CHILDREN GET A VOICE”.

Generally, the court will refer the case to MSF for social investigation when:

  • parents cannot agree on who should get custody.
  • one parent is concerned about the other parent having access to the child.
  • the Court has concerns about the custody of the child

Access orders

If you do not have care and control, you still have a right to see your children and to get information about them.  This is called “Access”.

The parent who has care and control cannot deny access because the other parent has not paid maintenance.  You also cannot deny access simply because the child is busy or does not want to.  It is important for the child to maintain a healthy relationship with the parent who has access.

Supervised access

If you are worried about your children’s safety, a judge might order supervised access.  Supervised access is when someone watches over the child when a parent visits the child.  The court will lift the supervised access order when it feels that the child’s safety is no longer an issue.

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RELATED ARTICLES

Children custody – Do the children get a voice?

Child custody for fathers

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