Family law isn’t as straightforward as some would like to believe. The circumstances that make up the cases are as varied and unique as the members making up a family unit.
Under the Singapore legal system, family cases are handled by the Family Justice Courts. This main type of law handles legal issues within the family including divorce, family violence, and the care and treatment of young family members.
It’s not exempt from myths and misinformation, though. And that’s why this post aims to debunk some common myths surrounding Singapore family law.
The mother automatically gets custody of the children.
Perhaps media saturation and cliché movie scripts have a lot to do with this particular myth, but the best family lawyers in Singapore can easily debunk it with facts. There is nothing set in legal stone that the mother will automatically get sole custody of a divorced couple’s children.
Respected Syariah lawyers will explain that the Muslim law has specific rules surrounding children’s custody after divorce. Generally, children below seven years old will be placed in their mother’s care, and those above that age can be asked which parent they prefer living with after the divorce.
But the Courts typically grant joint custody if it’s out of the best interests of the children and if both parties have demonstrated responsibility and cooperation in parenting them.
Prenuptial agreements aren’t covered by the Singapore Family Courts.
Divorce and annulment in Singapore are both handled by the Family Justice Courts but settle other marriage and family-related cases, too.
They also examine prenuptial and postnuptial agreements as these are also considered binding agreements. In the same vein, the Courts can decide on the division or sales of assets as stipulated in these agreements.
Of course, it’s a practical move for a couple to undergo marriage counselling before agreeing to prenuptial agreements so everything is on the table.
Divorced parents can stop giving support to their children.
There have been cases of one or both parents who’ve suddenly stopped working so they can get away with giving child support. But as any divorce lawyer will tell you, all children of the divorcing/divorced couple who are below 21 years old are entitled to child maintenance.
There are subtle nuances when it comes to foreigners living in Singapore, but experienced expat divorce lawyers can explain options if you wish to hold the divorce proceedings either here or overseas.
Because Family Courts always have the children’s best interests, even signed agreements between former spouses waiving maintenance and support will be scrutinised closely and will likely be overridden if it’s found that it will be harmful to the child.
It’s also good to note that neglecting qualified children by pointedly withdrawing support from them will likely require psychotherapy sessions, which will just pile on the bills in the long run.
Child maintenance and support terms cannot be changed later on.
Circumstances can change over time, and fortunes can take a drastic turn for the worse. The most experienced bankruptcy lawyers have witnessed this time and again.
So if the Courts find (with verifiable proof) that there have been significant material changes in your circumstances, the terms of your child maintenance order can be reviewed and changed.
But probate lawyers can argue for custodial removal of the opposing party if it’s been proven that the ex-spouse has failed to comply with the Child Maintenance order terms and has no good cause to present why this is so.