Divorce/Child Custody in Singapore – Things you Need to Know

Divorce is a universal concept that is familiar across the globe, and one that can also have an incredibly destabilizing impact on families (and particularly young children).

There’s even evidence to suggest that this may be a growing concern in Singapore, with the total number of marital dissolution having risen by 2.9% between 2014 and 2015.

In this post, we’ll focus primarily on the issue of child custody during a divorce while looking at the key considerations for parents as they go through this process.

The Basics of Child Custody in Singapore

If you and your estranged partner have already liaised with a divorce lawyer and commenced proceedings, one of the most important considerations will be the future custody of your children.

This is also one of the most contentious issues during a divorce, and one that can become a considerable cause of hostility and animosity.

From the perspective of Singapore law, a child is defined in the Women’s Charter as being the offspring of a married couple who is under 21 years of age. This is also reaffirmed by the Guardianship of Infants Act, which is the main statute responsible for implementing child custody laws in Singapore and applies to every single resident.

This statue also distinguished between custody and the care and control of a child, which is a key source of confusion for some couples. In simple terms, custody grants custodial parents authority in making decisions regarding their child, whereas care and control can only be given to one parent who will be involved with the infant on a day-to-day basis.

In this instance, the other parent will have limited rights and granted access to their child for fixed and specified periods of time.

What Type of Arrangements Exist in Singapore?

Aside from sole and joint custody orders (which are widely recognised across the globe), parents in Singapore may be subject to alternative rulings following a divorce.

The first of these is a so-called hybrid order, in which one parent will be granted custody of the child. However, this individual must consult with the non-custodial parent on matters pertaining to the welfare of their child, creating a need for the parties involved to maintain an amicable relationship and open lines of communication.

There’s also a highly controversial ruling that results in split custody order, which separates families and siblings between parents. This means that each parent will assume custody of one or more related children, fracturing a family completely and potentially creating a higher level of emotional stress for the infants involved.

While this type of order is rarely enforced due to its potential impact on the psychological wellbeing of children, it’s indicative of the harsh realities of divorce and relationship breakdowns.

This is why divorce must be considered as a last resort by couples, particularly those who have children and wish to act in the most responsible way possible.

Thanks to Alden Bert

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