Care and control orders in divorce cases carefully decided

We agree with Mr Oh Ee Hoe (Care and control orders in divorce cases need attention; July 14) on the importance of both parents being involved in a child's upbringing. The court has long recognised this.

The law urges both parents to continue to be actively involved in the child's life even after a divorce.

Hence, the majority of custody orders made by the Family Justice Courts are joint ones, where important decisions for the child are made by both parents and the child continues to have their guidance throughout his childhood.

An unfortunate consequence of divorce is that a child has to spend different periods of time separately with each parent.

As there are significant differences between families, such as parental work schedules, location of residences and the needs of the child, there is no single arrangement that is suitable for all cases.

"Care and control" relates to which parent the child lives with primarily while "access" enables the other parent to spend time with the child.

There is a broad range of access orders that may be made, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Where a parent has extensive and liberal access, the care arrangements are practically similar to a shared care and control arrangement.

When a child has to spend different periods of time separately with each parent, the amount of time the child has for his own activities will be affected, and this is particularly significant for older children.

Thus, to ensure the child's best interests, the care and control order the court makes will always take into account the needs of the child's stage of life.

When a shared-care arrangement is considered, the court takes into account whether it is in the child's best interest to have his week divided between living in two homes. A key consideration is whether the parents are able to carry out a two-home arrangement with close cooperation, as frequent parental conflict is detrimental to the well-being of the child.

From our experience, most of the parents are able to appreciate the various factors necessary for the child's well-being and agree on arrangements for their children.

Last year, 93 per cent of concluded cases with children issues reached full agreement on these issues during mediation.

Chia Wee Kiat

Registrar

Family Justice Courts

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2018, with the headline 'Care and control orders in divorce cases carefully decided'. Print Edition | Subscribe