FAQ for Custody, care and control and access application

Custody gives the parent authority and responsibility to make major decisions in the children’s lives such as country of residence, education, religion and major healthcare decisions.

Care and control gives the parent authority and responsibility over the day-to-day matters of the child and the child resides with this parent.

For any orders relating to children, the court considers the best interests of the children.

Custody orders can be sole to either parent or jointly to both. If there is no actual dispute over any serious matter relating to the children’s upbringing, the Court can even make no orders on custody.

The Court will usually order for joint custody as it usually considers it to be in the best interests of the children to have both parents in their lives and co-parenting is strongly encouraged. Sole custody will only be awarded on rare occasions, such as where there has been abuse of the children by one parent or where the relationship of parties are so acrimonious that cooperation is impossible even after mediation and counselling, and this lack of cooperation is harmful to the children.

The Court can either award care and control to one parent or shared care and control to both parents. In very rare and unusual circumstances where there are several children, the Court may also award split care and control. However, this is very rare, as the Court rarely deems it to be in the best interests of the children to split them up.

In general, the Court will award care and control to the parent who is better able to care for the child. Often, this also includes the parent who is better able to facilitate

Access is an order entitling the parent who does not have care and control to the children to have regular contact with the children. In most situations, access is unsupervised, to allow the non-care parent to spend time with the children without a third-party monitoring this. However, on occasions where there is possible abuse requiring supervision or where the relationship

between the non-care parent and the children is strained and requires facilitating, supervised access may instead be ordered.

It is also important for parties to specify the terms for access relating to school holidays, public holidays, birthdays, overnights and bringing the children overseas for holidays.

This is often construed widely and can include moral, physical and emotional welfare, stability, ties of affection and various other factors. Often, maintaining the children’s relationship with both parents is an important consideration that is deemed to be in the children’s best interests. All custody, care and control as well as access terms are made with the ultimate goal of ensuring the children’s happiness, security, mental and physical well-being, educational and emotional development as they grow into young adults.

The preferences of the child is also a contributing factor and may be determined through various mechanisms such as child representatives or judicial interviews.

Both the father and mother have a joint duty to maintain or contribute to the maintenance of their children, whether they are in his/her custody, and whether they are legitimate or illegitimate. The children must typically be maintained until 21 years old, although parental responsibility for maintenance can extend over 21 years old if the child is suffering from some mental/physical disability, serving national service, studying for their tertiary education, or some other special circumstances.

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