When going through a divorce, the well-being of the children involved is often the primary concern. The custody and care and control of children after a marriage breakdown is a crucial matter that requires a constructive and amicable resolution. At IRB Law, we are committed to assisting families in navigating child custody issues in the most beneficial manner possible.
Understanding Custody and Care and Control: It is important to clarify the distinction between custody and care and control:
Custody: Custody refers to the authority of a parent or parents to make significant decisions about the child’s future, including education and religion. There are two types of custody arrangements:
Care and Control: Care and control pertain to the parent who has primary responsibility for the child’s daily life, such as sleeping arrangements, meals, and school routines. The other parent is typically granted access to visit the child at agreed-upon times.
Access Rights: In addition to custody and care and control, there are three types of access rights:
In a high-stakes custody battle in Singapore, a couple’s decade-long marriage broke down and the ensuing acrimony led to a fierce dispute over their 11-year-old son, diagnosed with multiple neurodevelopmental disorders. In a landmark judgement, the court has ordered shared custody, urging the parents to look beyond their personal discord for their son’s welfare.
The couple, both high earners, married in 2011 and soon had a son, who was diagnosed with refractory frontal lobe epilepsy at age three, along with other neurodevelopmental disorders. The father, claiming his ex-wife’s “abusive behaviour” caused their son’s seizures, sought a personal protection order for himself and his son. The mother, however, insisted she was the primary caregiver, arranging and paying for all of his therapies.
In her judgement, Justice Debbie Ong stressed that the son needed both parents in his life. She noted that both parents exhibited strengths in their parenting approaches: the mother was praised for her meticulous organisation and commitment to therapeutic and educational opportunities for their son, while the father demonstrated empathy and creativity in dealing with his son’s learning disabilities.
However, she also identified areas of improvement for both parents. The mother, she suggested, could benefit from acknowledging her son’s need for rest between therapies. The father, she said, should appreciate the structured and supportive environment that the therapies provided.
The mother will have the son from Saturday to Wednesday nights, with the father taking the rest of the week. Arrangements for special occasions and overseas trips are to be mutually agreed, and either parent can request adjustments to the care periods. The judge emphasized the need for flexibility, cooperation, and graciousness in these arrangements. The parents are also to equally share the son’s monthly personal expenses.
Justice Ong urged the parents to perceive divorce as a reorganization of familial and financial arrangements, rather than a battleground. She reminded them of the immeasurable gains from their marriage, most significantly their son, and encouraged them to find a way forward.
The parents, who got married in 2012 and had a daughter the same year, divorced in 2017. They had joint custody of their daughter, who was 4 years old at the time, with the father having primary care and control.
However, five years later, the child began residing with the mother due to allegations of emotional abuse and neglect by the father and his domestic helper. This change prompted legal applications from both parents, with the mother applying for a change in the custody arrangement, and the father seeking enforcement of the original orders. The district judge dismissed the mother’s application, siding with the father.
The mother then appealed this decision. The appeal judge, Choo Han Teck J, reversed the district judge’s decision, not because of the alleged abuse but because he believed it was in the child’s best interest to live with her mother, as she was happier and more comfortable there. The child, who was now 11, expressed her preference to live with her mother.
The new orders granted the mother primary care and control of the child, while the father was given access rights on specified days. This change took effect from May 6, 2023. The court made no order regarding costs.
At IRB Law, we provide comprehensive legal advice and services related to child custody, care and control, and access rights. Our goal is to ensure that these matters are resolved fairly and in the best interest of all parties involved. Our experienced child custody lawyers can assist you with the following:
A custody lawyer is a type of family lawyer who specializes in cases related to child custody. These lawyers provide guidance and representation during legal proceedings involving the determination of parental rights.
We commit to guiding you at every stage, empowering you to make informed decisions about your future. Our dedicated team appreciates the sensitivity of divorce matters and handles each case with the utmost discretion and respect. With a team of experienced and competent divorce lawyers who are not only proficient in their field but also empathetic and understanding, we stand ready to support you during this difficult time. Trust in our commitment to securing the best possible outcome for your divorce proceedings.
The Straits Times, in collaboration with Statista, has recognized I.R.B Law as one of the leading family law firms in Singapore. This honor mirrors our unwavering commitment to legal excellence and our ability to deliver exceptional legal services tailored to our clients’ unique needs.
Trust in our dedicated team’s ability to guide you through this complex process with competence, compassion, and respect. Our team’s dedication, coupled with our experience in dealing with diverse and complex cases, makes us your ideal ally in seeking a successful resolution to your legal process in Singapore.
Author: Mohamed Baiross/IRB LAW LLP
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