All You Need To Know About Access Rights To Your Children After A Divorce

All You Need To Know About Access Rights To Your Children After A Divorce

What Is Access?

After a divorce, one of the parents will usually be given the care and control of the child where he/she would be responsible for making the day-to-day decisions for the child, and where the child would live in the same household with that parent.

Access is usually granted to the parent who does not have the care and control of the child, and who is living apart from the child. Access grants this parent the benefit of having regular contact with the child, and more so reserving the child’s right to spend time with that parent, despite the divorce.

In Singapore, joint parenting is encouraged. In the case of Chan Teck Hock David v Leong Mei Chuan, the Singapore Court of Appeal put forth that it is in the interest of the children that both parents be involved in determining what is best for them. It is therefore in the welfare of the child to be able to spend time and maintain a relationship with the parent who does not have care and control, even if there is acrimony between the parents.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Access?

There are varying types of access, which can be classified into three broad categories, namely:

  • Reasonable or Liberal Access.
  • Scheduled Access.
  • Supervised Access.

Reasonable Access / Liberal Access

When both parents are agreeable, and are both flexible on the arrangements and visitations of the parent who does not have care and control, the court can approve non-specific access orders such as reasonable access or liberal access. While these type of access orders can be considerably vague, they do offer more leeway for more amicable divorcing parties.

Scheduled Access

With scheduled access orders, the court will provide specific details on the access arrangements, which could include the time for access, the duration of the access, and the venue of which the handover would take place.

Hybrid orders may also be made, that includes a term for which parties are able to mutually agree on changing certain access arrangements in the court order.

Scheduled access very much depends on the parents' schedules, as well as the child’s activities and schedule. Some examples of the access terms include, but are not limited to:

  • Weekday evening access
  • Weekend access
  • Overnight access
  • Public holidays access
  • School holidays access
  • Special occasion access

Supervised Access

Supervised access is usually ordered in situations where there are serious safety concerns for the child if left unattended with the parent without care and control. Supervised access is given only in exceptional cases, as it is generally in the welfare of the child for the parent without care and control to have unsupervised access to the child, allowing them the privacy of building and maintaining their relationship.

  • In situations where there is violence or inappropriate parenting: In the case of BKJ v BKK, the court found that supervised access would be granted only if there is a reasonable basis for the allegations of abuse or danger to the child.
  • In situations where the child is uncomfortable to be alone with the parent without care and control: For example, due to the nature of their relationship or due to alienation on the part of the parent without care and control.

With supervised access, the court may also make Supervised Exchange or Supervised Visitation orders, in which a DSSA (Divorce Support Specialist Agency worker will be assigned to the family. Under Supervised Exchange, the DSSA caseworker will supervise the handover from the custodial parent to the non-custodial parent. Under Supervised Visitation, the DSSA caseworker supervises the access sessions between the non-custodial parent and the child. In situations where the relationship between both parents is very acrimonious, assisted transfers via organisations like Family Service Centres (FSCs) or THK Centre for Family Harmony are available.)

Along with supervised access, the court will generally also schedule access reviews to monitor the relationship progression of the parent without care and control, and the child. This is done with the aim of lifting the supervised access in favour of unsupervised access.

How Does The Court Decide On Access To Children During A Divorce?

There are many things that the court will take into consideration when deciding the access rights to be given to the parent without care and control. It all depends on the circumstances, as every family fact situation is different. Some examples of factors that the court would take into account are:

  • The needs of the child
  • The wishes of the child
  • The quality and history of the relationship between the child and the parent without care and control.

In summary, where access is involved, tit is usually less likely that parent can be denied access to his/her child, unless there is serious detriment to the child’s welfare.

The ideal situation would be to have a harmonious arrangement between you and your spouse, and not to get to the stage where the court has to decide in the first place. This can be achieved if both parties move forward with a simplified, uncontested divorce.

Not fighting tooth and nail over access rights can also benefit your child in many ways. Your child would have the security and benefit of growing up with the input as well as the interaction with both parents. It is also worth noting that any attempts to deliberately deprive the parent without care and control their rightful access time with the child will not be looked upon kindly by the court.


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Filed under: Divorce
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