SINGAPORE CHILD CUSTODY LAW – DO THE CHILDREN GET A VOICE?

The issue of the desirability of judges speaking directing to children in parenting disputes has been debated extensively in the common law jurisdictions. 

 

SINGAPORE CHILD CUSTODY LAW – DO THE CHILDREN GET A VOICE?

The issue of the desirability of judges speaking directing to children in parenting disputes has been debated extensively in the common law jurisdictions. More recently, Singapore has joined in with other common law jurisdictions of England and Australia to moving in favour of interviewing children under Singapore child custody law.

In the case of AZB v AZC [2016] SGHCF 1, the Honourable Debbie Ong JC encouraged the use of judicial conversations with children but that the court should only do so for the children’s welfare and where the child is of sufficient maturity to express an independent opinion. Although there are legitimate concerns over the limitations and risks of judicial interviews of children, it should only serve to spur the family justice system to provide an environment most conducive to an effective process and eliminate or reduce as many of the limitations and risks as possible.

The learned judge further emphasised that the judicial interview of children should remain an important option within the family justice system, when appropriate in light of the circumstances of each case, which employs a judge-led approach to proactively manage cases and protect the welfare of children.

In AZB v AZC, the judicial conversations with the children, aged 13 and 11 years old, proved to be crucial in providing corroborative evidence to the court that there was material change in circumstances to vary an access order. This position was contrary to a similar application heard before the High Court where the court took the view that a judicial interview of children was not necessary so as to allow stability and peace of mind for the children.

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Related Articles:

Understanding custody, care and control of children

The Law on Child Relocation 

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