It’s always difficult when a marriage breaks down, and never more so when children are involved. If you are living in Singapore and getting a divorce, you’ll no doubt have plenty of questions about child custody in Singapore, and what ‘care and control’ means. In our regular column, the team from Consilium Law Corporation answers common queries on a range of legal issues in Singapore.
What’s the difference between “custody” and “care and control”?
In Singapore, custody refers to the major decisions relating to the child’s upbringing, health, education and religion. The governing principle in this area of law and in any matter concerning a child is the best interests and welfare of the child. Generally, the court favours joint custody arrangements where both parents share in these higher-level decisions. It is only in exceptional circumstances that the court will likely depart from its inclination to make a joint custody order.
Singapore law contemplates a second category of parental rights and obligations, “care and control”, which deals with day-to-day decisions. There are numerous considerations that a judge considers in awarding care and control, and a myriad of orders that may be made in the child’s best interest, including granting one parent – the primary caregiver – sole care and control, or orders for shared care and control, where a child alternates between living with both parents.
My ex-spouse was awarded care and control of our two children. What does this mean for me and my ability to spend time with my children?
The parent without care and control is usually given access rights, including visitation, phone communication, video calls, and any such order a court might deem appropriate. Access ranges from being liberal to quite restrictive and supervised. The latter generally occurs in cases where the risk of abuse, in one form or another, is existent. Once again, the court will primarily consider the best interests and welfare of the child in determining what a proper access order would be.
Note that in orders to do with custody, care and control, and access, the courts have a fair amount of discretion in fashioning a solution that best accords with the facts at hand.
For more helpful tips head to our Living in Singapore section!