Following a divorce, parties will often find themselves ‘fighting for custody’ of the child. There are four different types of possible custody orders:
1. Sole Custody
Where a custodial parent is appointed to make major decisions for the child
2. Joint Custody
Where both parents are to make major decisions for the child jointly
3. Hybrid Custody
Where it is a sole custody order but that the custodial parent must consult the non-custodial parent on specific issues
4. Split Custody
Where the custody of the children is split between the two parents. This is rarely granted and if sought for, parents must file affidavits in support of the split, explaining how it would be in the children’s best interest.
Factors taken into consideration when deciding custody
Section 125 of the Women’s Charter states that the welfare of the child is of paramount consideration to the court. The court will consider all relevant circumstances to the case the reach a decision which is for the well-being of the child and in the child’s best interest.
The mere desire of a parent to have custody of his/her child is secondary to the consideration.
While there are no fixed general principles, precedent cases have indicated the following:
- That the courts are concerned about preserving the continuity of care as far as possible
- The courts will try to identify the child’s primary caregiver during the marriage and has a tendency to place the child in the care of his primary caregiver
- For younger children, all things being equal, custody will normally be granted to the mother
- The courts will consider the wishes of a child if he/she is able to express an opinion
- The court chooses a parent who demonstrates more concern for the child
- Siblings are generally not separated
Care and Control
If a parent has custody of a child, the child will reside with the parent and be under his/her care, control and supervision. This parent will make all decisions relating to education and health.
The other parent will have access rights to the child. The courts will specify that the other parent have reasonable access to the child and the amount of access time will be determined by the parties.
Should the parties be unable to come to an agreement, the courts will make an order which it feels is in the best interest of the child. The order which is in the child’s best interest may not be one which is fair to both parents.
For more information contact Singapore divorce or family lawyer Raphael Louis (Ray) or visit his website.