Understanding what is Sole Custody, Joint Custody, Care and Control and Access – Singapore Child Custody Lawyer
The Singapore Legal Position
The fundamental question that a court asks itself when making a decision affecting a child is whether that decision will promote the welfare of the child. The concept of ‘welfare’ is not a narrow one: it has to be considered in the widest sense and is not to be measured by money or physical comfort only. The child’s moral and religious well-being must be taken into account and his relationships with his siblings and other relatives. It is important to maintain the ties of affection the child enjoys : see ABW v ABV  SGHC 29.
The decision as to what is in the best interests of any particular child depends on the circumstances of the individual case and the individual child. However, this does not mean that that decision is a subjective one for the judge hearing the case. Rather, a number of relevant circumstances should be taken into account when arriving at a decision. The stability factor is but one such circumstance. Others include:
(a) The need for both parents to have an involvement in the child’s life;
(b) Which parent shows the greater concern for the child;
(c) The maternal bond;
(d) The child’s wishes; and
(e) The desirability of keeping siblings together.
The degree to which any one factor or the other is to be given pre-eminence is not fixed but depends entirely on the facts of each case.
What is Custody? – Singapore Child Custody Lawyer
The term “custody” means the right to make major decisions on the welfare and upbringing of the children in the following areas:
- Medical issues like whether the child is to be hospitalized ;
- Educational issues like the choice of school, choice of enrichment classes, choice of course in school, choice of subjects, whether the child is to attend a particular school trip or outing, or tuition;
- Religious issues like what religion the child should follow.
In practice, the Court usually makes either one of the following orders when it comes to custody of children:
- “Sole custody” order – this is where the right is given to one parent to make major decisions for the child without the agreement of the other parent. “Sole custody” orders are rare.
- “Joint custody” order – there is where the right is given to both parents to make major decisions for the child jointly on the 3 major areas above. “Joint custody” orders are the norm.
What is Care and Control? – Singapore Child Custody Lawyer
Care and control is the right to have the children live with you, and to make everyday decisions about them.
For practical reasons, care and control normally lies with one parent. The non-custodial parent who does not have care and control of the child will have access to the child.
Usually if the Court grants a split custody order for different siblings, it will also order for care and control of the children to be similarly split so the result is that siblings will live with different parents.
Singapore Child Custody Lawyer
It is a parent’s duty to maintain the child until the child reaches adulthood whether or not he has custody. Similarly, a parent’s right to have access to his child is sacrosanct and will be jealously guarded by the Court. Only in very extreme circumstances will access be taken away from a parent e.g. where there is violence. In the case of alleged violence, the Court may still give supervised access.
Parents are strongly advised to try and co-operate with each other when it comes to parenting the child.
At PKWA Law, our Family & Child Custody Lawyers have the expertise, sensitivity and experience to handle children custody issues.
Our family and divorce lawyers have been named by Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review, Global Law Experts and Doyle’s Guide as leading divorce and family lawyers in Singapore.
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