Divorce in Singapore: What do I do If My Ex-Spouse Contests My Application for Child Custody?

Have you ever been in a situation where your ex-spouse contested your child custody application? We've compiled a list of the factors that the court considers when deciding who gets custody. Don't worry, Yeo Law will assist you as you fight your divorce flight in Singapore. Call us right now for a free initial consultation!


Maxine Villegas

2 years ago | 5 min read

As much of a tedious and emotionally-jarring process divorce in Singapore is, children are mostly the biggest victims in this battle. Whether the divorce ensued because of complications or other outside factors, it has always resulted in emotionally damaging effects. Even more when both parents don’t concede in discordance for parental rights of the child custody. The question now is, how can we make sure this process becomes easier, especially for your child? This article entails what you can do if your ex-spouse contests your application for child custody. But first…

What is Child Custody?

Child custody is the right of a parent to care for, control, and maintain their child. This is usually granted to one parent who has gone through a divorce or separation proceeding. However, this only applies to minors or children under the age of 21, joined by marriage. The Guardianship of Infants Act, the Women’s Charter, and the Administration of Muslim Law Act all support this legislation.

What is Child Access?

Child custody is different from care and control. The former grants the custodial parent(s) authority over major decisions such as the child’s education, religion and healthcare. On the other hand, care and control are only permissible to one parent and involve day-to-day matters of the child. Consequently, only brief periods of time will be allotted to the other parent.

What is Child Support?

Child support is the parent’s obligation to give financial assistance for their child’s needs. Section 68 of the Women’s Charter states that this commitment continues regardless of who has custody of the kid. The young person requires financial support for housing, clothing, nutrition, and education.

Generally, only minors (children younger than 21 years) are eligible for child support. Children older than 21 may obtain support depending on the circumstances. The application is most plausible when the parent neglects or refuses to offer assistance, and it can be submitted by the other parent, adult siblings, the kid’s guardian, or the adult child themselves.

What is the difference between joint custody and sole custody?

Joint custody is when both parents are given the authority to be decision-makers for their child. This requires constant communication between both parties, as it gives them an equal say in the child’s upbringing.

On the other hand, sole custody is when only one parent is granted custody over the child. This is usually granted when the couple’s relationship is no longer strong enough to work in partnership to care for their child. So much to the point that trying to stay and work together will only be detrimental to their children’s welfare.

However, Singapore courts have been granting joint custody orders more than sole custody. This is because they recognise the importance of both parents’ presence as a pivotal part of a child’s development. The court acknowledges that parenthood doesn’t end when the marriage does; it is a lifelong commitment and responsibility.

What are the factors the court considers when deciding on child custody?

Now that we understand all the terms revolving around child custody, how does the court decide who to grant it to? Here are nine factors that the court considers when deciding child custody:

1. Primary Caregiver

The court will favour the parent who has been the primary caregiver of the child, in order to maintain the status quo for them. Particularly, this revolves around which parent has been mainly responsible for meeting the day-to-day needs of their child. Needs, specifically food, education, and other necessities.

While the court would often favour the mothers before, the court now takes both parents into fair consideration.

2. Parent-Child Relationship

The relationship the child has with a certain parent also plays a huge factor in helping the court decide. This is because the parent with a stronger bond with their child has a better understanding of their daily needs. Along with this, they are more likely to provide better emotional support whenever the child needs it. While the court may favour the maternal bond, they take the welfare principle into consideration, which weighs everything for the child’s best interest.

3. Household State

It is important for the court that the child lives in a healthy environment. With that, they will assess each of the parent’s living situations and choose which one is more stable, sufficiently spaced, clean and safe. Additionally, which one is nearer the child’s school and other relatives.

4. Financial Support

The parent’s financial situation, involving their income and job play a huge role in gaining child custody. However, a higher salary doesn’t necessarily equate to an advantage. Women who are dependent on their spouse for monetary support aren’t less of a candidate as well. In addition, it is actually mandated that both parents shoulder their child’s expenses, regardless of who gains custody.

5. Parent’s Health

Being that parents should be the sole guardians and support of their children, it is vital that they do not have severe health issues, as it will negatively impact the child’s well-being.

6. Parent’s Lifestyle

The court will also look into the lifestyle and habits of each parent and whether or not they are focused on the child. If evidence proves that a parent involves themselves in vices such as gambling, use of drugs, alcohol, and/or other intoxicants, the court is likely to grant child custody to the other parent.

7. Allegations of Domestic Abuse

In Singapore, domestic abuse allegations are taken very seriously. If there are any signs of domestic abuse in the household, whether towards the ex-spouse or children, the court may deem said parent unfit for child custody. The court may even order an evaluation report by the Family Court counsellor if they deem it necessary.

8. Reasonable Preference of the Child

In some circumstances, the court may consider the child’s opinion/choice about their own living arrangements. This highly depends on their age and maturity level. This is evaluated by interviews with the judge or by appointing a Child Representative to oversee the situation.

However, since children are prone to be heavily influenced by a certain parent, the court is usually careful in implementing this procedure.

9. Parental Agreement

Lastly, there are also instances where the parents have already agreed on child custody. Since consent is expressed, the court will give substantial weight to this, as long as the child’s best interest aligns with said agreement. In fact, it is favourable to the Singaporean court that parents arrive at an amicable outcome. This is due to the positive impact this act has on the child, showing that each party was able to cooperate and compromise properly.

Fight for Your Child’s Rights with Yeo Law By Your Side

While a successful divorce provides a fresh new start, this should not eliminate the responsibility of caring for your children. In fact, a child’s health and well-being should be any parent’s number one priority, whatever the situation may be. With that, it is essential to have a top-notch lawyer by your side to ensure the best outcome for you and your children. Guided by one of Singapore’s top specialist divorce and family lawyers, Yeo Law will help you fight for you and your child’s rights. If you need help applying for an Interim Custody Care and Control or child custody, contact Yeo & Associates LLC at +65 6220 3400 or visit their website to provide you with a free initial chat regarding facts about this legal issue. Remember, Yeo Law is by your side, ready to help.


Created by

Maxine Villegas

wanderer + inquisitive || always overcome uncertainty with resilience. ||







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