If your spouse has care and control of your child and denied you access, you can seek an enforcement of access orders in Singapore.
Reasonable Access to Child in Singapore
At the end of the divorce proceedings, the Court will grant the parent who does not have care and control reasonable access to the child in Singapore.
Under Section 126 of the Women’s Charter, the Court may “give a parent deprived of custody or any member of the family of a parent who is dead or has been deprived of custody the right of access to the child at such times and with such frequency as the court may consider reasonable”. The term reasonable is not defined and the Court may grant the access duration and frequency as it deems fit.
However, even with an access order, the Court cannot oversee every single access session to ensure that it is followed by parties.
Types of Access Orders in Singapore
There are 2 main types of access orders in Singapore- supervised and unsupervised. If a supervised access order is made, the parent having access to the child must be supervised either by the other parent or another party. Supervised access is for cases where the child is not close in relationship to the access parent or to prevent physical/ psychological abuse by the other parent during the access period.
Unsupervised access is more common, given the resources and time required to supervise access at every single session.
Access can be categorized into:
1. School holiday access.
2. Birthday access.
3. Special occasion access (such as birthdays, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Christmas and Hari Raya).
4. Overnight access.
5. Weekend access.
6. Overseas access (for holidays overseas).
7. Public holiday access.
Enforcement of Access Orders in Singapore
Try to Resolve Matters Amicably
If you have been repeatedly denied access, enforcement of access orders in Singapore may be necessary. However, this should be the last resort to prevent a worsening of relationship between you and your ex-spouse, which would not be in the best interests of the child.
You may wish to try to work things out with the other parent amicably. You should also continue with maintenance payments even if access has been denied as maintenance and access are separate issues. You may also try to reach out to your ex-spouse’s relatives and friends to help you in reaching out to your ex-spouse.
Rather than seek an enforcement of access orders in Singapore right away, this may be a better option.
Apply for a Variation of Court Order
If your ex-spouse has denied you access persistently over a prolonged period, you may also consider applying for a variation of Court order. For instance, if your access is listed simply as “reasonable access” in the divorce Court order, you may wish to vary the Court order such that the access is for specified timings. In this way, there will be no “excuse” from your ex-spouse to deny you access.
In more extreme cases, you may also consider varying the Court order to apply for shared care and control of your child. This will be more appropriate if both parents are equally close to the child and both parents have been primary care-givers to the child before the divorce. The child should also be of a mature and independent age as the Court is more reluctant to have young children shuttle between 2 homes on a frequent basis.
File for Contempt of Court
As a final resort if all else fails, you may wish to file for contempt of Court against the other parent for failing to abide by the access order. There must be compelling evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the other parent intentionally did not obey the Court order. It must not have been for reasons such as the child’s illness or accident.
If the other parent is found in contempt of the access order, he/ she would be found guilty of a criminal offence. However, this application will take up a longer time. It may also worsen the relationship between both parents and be detrimental towards the child.
Maintaining access to your child after divorce is important for you to build up a good relationship with your child. If you have more questions on enforcement of access orders in Singapore, you should consult an experienced child custody lawyer in Singapore for further advice. Contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp) for more information.
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