If you intend to commence divorce proceedings against your spouse, or lead a separate away from him/ her, it is important to consider the needs of your child. If your child is under the age of 21, should you or your spouse be tasked with making major decisions for him/ her? Having custody of your child gives you the right to make major decisions for him/ her after the divorce or prior to the conclusion of the divorce.
Major decisions which a parent with custody of his/ her child can make includes decisions pertaining to the education, healthcare and religion of his/ her child.
Types of Custody Orders
The Court is able to make the following custody orders:
1. Sole custody order: The parent who is awarded sole custody of his/ her child would be able to make all major decisions relating to him/ her.
2. Joint custody order: In this case, both parents are required to make major decisions for the child jointly and they would need to agree on these decisions. Any dispute would have to be decided by the Court.
3. Hybrid custody order: This custody order is a hybrid of the sole custody order and the joint custody order. One parent would be able to make all major decisions for the child, except for some decisions which must be made jointly by the parents.
4. Split custody order: A split custody order is rare. It involves the Court granting the custody or one or more siblings to one parent and the custody of the other siblings to the other parent. Parents who have jointly agreed on split custody orders for their children would have to file affidavits (affirmed/ sworn statements) to explain why this would be in the best interests of the children.
Divorce may be a long-drawn process and you may wish to make an interim application for the custody of your child before the conclusion of the divorce or in some cases, even before the commencement of divorce proceedings.
Different from Care and Control
It is commonly misunderstood that the parent with custody of the child lives with him/ her after the divorce/ separation. However, having custody of your child after the divorce does not mean you would get to live with him/ her after the divorce. Whether you get to live with the children on a day-to-day basis depends on the Court’s decision (or parties’ agreement) on care and control of the children.
See: Sections 122 to 126 of Women’s Charter (Singapore)
Your divorce lawyer can assist by:
1. Advising you on the strength of your case (if you wish to make an application for the interim custody of your child, or ask for the custody/ care and control of your child in your divorce proceedings).
2. Representing you in all proceedings relating to your child.
3. Drafting and filing the documents required by the Court.
4. Representing you in negotiations with the other party, mediation sessions and in Court.
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