Specialist Divorce & Family Lawyer
YEO & Associates LLC Pte Ltd.
  • Children
  • I am being denied access to my children
  • Child Access Orders
  • I want custody of my children
  • Grandparents’ Rights
  • Child Maintenance
  • Breach of a Child Arrangements Order
  • Parental Rights and Responsibility
  • Preventing an ex having contact with their children
  • Step-parents
  • Children and Divorce FAQs
  • Child Maintenance Checker

Children

Let Yeo & Associates LLC help

When a relationship breaks down it can be difficult for everyone involved. The legal focus is on protecting the rights of the child, which includes concerns for their safety and well-being and their right to have a relationship with both parents.

If parents cannot agree arrangements in relation to where a child will live and when the child will see or visit the other parent the Courts may have to be asked to make a decision – often our solicitors are able to help before things get that far.

I am being denied access to my children

A child is entitled to a relationship with both parents

It is expected that a child will have a relationship with both parents and spend time with each of them unless they are at risk of harm.

If you want to have a relationship with your child but are being denied access by your ex-partner there are a number of steps you can take:

Try to reach an agreement

Sometimes a carefully worded letter which sets out your point of view and the rights of your child is all that is needed to help persuade your ex to see your perspective.

Yeo & Associates LLC can help you to put your points across in a straight-forward way, explaining your position and why you think it is in the best interests of your child to spend time with you. Your lawyer can also make the legal position clear on your behalf. We can normally do this as part of a detailed case assessment by telephone and email.

Mediation

You may wish to invite your ex to try mediation to help you reach an agreement you are both happy with.

Apply for a Child Access Order

Parents who are unable to agree about contact, whether that is with the help of their solicitor or with a mediator, can ask the courts to decide at a court hearing. If this happens the result will be a Child Access Order dealing with living and contact arrangements with both parents.

Yeo & Associates LLC can help you apply for a Child Access Order via the Family Justice Courts – call us or request a call back to discuss the costs and process involved.

Child Access Order being breached

If you already have a Child Access Order in place but your ex is not keeping to the terms of the order, there are legal steps you can take to ask the court to enforce the order.

This can be a lengthy process. Speak to Yeo & Associates LLC and we can explain what is involved.

Child Access Orders

A child access order is an order from the Court setting out arrangements for your child to live and have contact with both parents. It is not compulsory to have a child arrangements order to provide you with access to your child. Living arrangements and contact can normally be agreed between the parents. However, you will need to apply for a child arrangements order if you cannot agree as parents, of if you feel a child or grandchild is being denied a relationship with you.

How to get a child arrangements order

You may need to seek advice from a specialist family lawyer who will advise you of your rights to apply to the court. For example, grandparents do not currently have automatic rights to apply to the court and will need to seek leave of the court.

Your lawyer can prepare the application to the court on your behalf and arrange for this to be issued and served upon the other party before arranging representation at the first court hearing. This is what we call stage one. Often matters will be agreed and concluded at the first hearing.

If not, there will be further stages to be followed which can include filing of evidence in the form of statements and/or the preparation of a report by an officer MCYS who will make recommendations to the court to assist the court in making a decision. This is called stage two and would include at least one further court hearing.

The third and final stage would be the final hearing at which time the court will consider all evidence before making a final decision.

How much does it cost to apply for a child access order?

The application can be quite involved and in stage one will include the following;

  • Preparation of the application to include a short statement relating to the issues in dispute;
  • Preparing any supplemental application if there is any alleged risk of harm to the child where they are currently living;
  • Drafting all the papers for your approval and then lodging them with the Court for issue. It is usual for the application to be lodged in the Court that is nearest to where the child is living;
  • Arranging for service of the papers on all relevant parties;
  • Filing the certificate of service with the court;
  • Advice of the date for the Court hearing and arranging legal representation for you.

 

Yeo & Associates LLC can often offer a fixed price depending on individual circumstances. Your lawyer will discuss likely costs in a free 30 minute telephone consultation – request a call using our online form or call 62203400 to speak to a family solicitor today.

I want custody of my children

Caring for your children when you divorce or separate

The old ideas of child custody and access no longer exist. If you want a formal, legal agreement about where your children will live and when they will spend time with both parents you will need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. However, a formal Order is not automatically granted upon divorce or separation and neither is it necessary if you can agree arrangements between yourselves.

Both parents are important

It is anticipated that a child will have a relationship and spend time with both parents unless they are at risk of harm. If you are worried that your child is at risk of harm you should take action immediately – call us or request a call back.

Shared parenting does not mean equal time

There is a presumption of continued parental involvement by both parents. It is worth noting that continued parental involvement does not mean a particular division of time. The age of the child will be one important factor – ultimately you will need to consider what is in the best interests of your child. If you and your ex cannot agree a detailed discussion with a family lawyer may help you understand your rights and prepare your case to present to your ex.

Parents can mediate to find a solution

Parents who cannot agree can attend mediation where an independent third party will listen to both sides and try to help a couple reach an agreement. Often you will take separate legal advice alongside the mediation process to provide you with the confidence that the agreement you reach is in your child’s best interests.

Court hearings to reach a solution

Parents who are still unable to agree, whether that is with the help of their solicitor or with a mediator, can ask the courts to decide at a court hearing. If this happens the result will be a Child Arrangements Order dealing with living and contact arrangements with both parents. Yeo & Associates LLC can help you apply for a Child Arrangements Order via the courts – call us or request a call back to discuss the costs.

Grandparents’ Rights

The Law and Grandparents Rights

Grandparents can often be the forgotten victims of the breakdown of their children’s marriage or long-term relationship.

Contact with grandchildren

The first step for the grandparents who fear losing contact with their grandchildren should be to approach the child’s mother or father and explain that, no matter what the problems are between the parents, you as a grandparent do not intend to take sides but that you only wish to maintain contact with your grandchildren.

However, it is frequently the case that the relationship with the parent or parents has broken down to such an extent that this is not practical or even possible.

In those circumstances mediation is an option whereby an independent mediator will try and help you reach an agreement with the parents. For this to take place, both sides have to agree to mediate and it may not be right for all. Yeo & Associates LLC are able to make referrals to mediation providers and will be glad to help you with this.

Sometimes when relations have broken down a carefully drafted letter from your solicitor which tries to defuse the tension of the situation and puts across why you feel contact is so important for you and your grandchildren may be all that’s needed.

Yeo & Associates LLC can often provide an initial opinion on the best way forward or draft a letter, for a fixed price as a Detailed Case Assessment.

Applying for contact through the courts

If no progress can be made through these routes then it is possible to make an application to the court.

Family courts do recognise and will promote the invaluable role that grandparents have to play in their grandchildren’s lives. We can help you make applications to the court to try and arrange contact on a formal, legal basis.

Frequently this will involve the appointment of a MCYS officer to look at any welfare issues that need to be considered and to prepare a report to aid the court in coming to a decision.

If an order is made the court’s powers to enforce such orders have recently been increased in such a way that makes it extremely difficult for parents to ignore them. They are therefore a very powerful way to ensure that grandparents can maintain a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with their grandchildren.

Family law advice

Applying to the court requires specialist help and advice and you will need to budget somewhere between S$1,500 and S$5,000 for legal fees. We can advise on costs for your particular case in our free half hour telephone appointment.

Yeo & Associates LLC have specialist family law solicitors with extensive experience of applying for court orders and have helped many grandparents successfully achieve and maintain contact with their grandchildren. Contact us for an initial half hour telephone appointment in which we will discuss your options and explain the likely process and costs involved.

Child Maintenance

Financial support for your child

Child support or child maintenance is financial support that helps towards a child’s everyday living costs. Payment is made by the absent parent to the parent, caregiver or guardian, with whom the children mainly live.

In family law, child support is not arranged as part of a divorce as such but the Court will want to be assured that arrangements regarding where the child will live and arrangements for continued parental involvement with both parents have been made.

You can avoid relying in the Court by making an agreement with the other parent. Ideally you should have child maintenance looked at and sorted out at the same time as spousal maintenance as part of agreeing a financial settlement.

If you are considering divorce or separation you should take advice from an experienced family lawyer to ensure you understand your rights and obligations and to help you reach an agreement.

How much financial support will the children get?

The amount of financial support an absent parent, normally the father, should contribute for the welfare of any children varies widely as it is reliant on so many different factors. These include income, assets, age of the child, levels of savings, pension contributions, any special health needs the child has and any additional support already being given to support the home where the child lives.

For specific amounts you must either reach an agreement between both parties amicably, often with the help of your divorce solicitor, or else rely on the Child Support Agency to sort out the case for you.

How can Yeo & Associates LLC help?

Take advantage of our fixed fee two hour assessment when one of our family lawyers will expertly assess your personal circumstances, and advise you whether it is better to make an application to the courts, or leave things to the MCYS and the Courts. You should seek advice as early as possible, so that we can help you to make the right decision for your children.

Remember, a MCYS assessment may be better for you than a court order, or vice versa but once either is made, there are long-term implications for children. You may therefore need help to choose the best option.

Help with the DSSA

DSSA helps parents and families who are experiencing difficulties with the DSSA.

Breach of a Child Arrangements Order

Keeping to a legal agreement

A Child Arrangements Order is an order made by the court stating where children will live and how and when they will spend time with each parent.

If the terms of the Order are not being met, by one party or the other, there is an option to ask the courts to enforce the Order.

Asking the courts to become involved

When an application is made to the court to enforce a Child Arrangements Order the case is listed for an initial hearing when the court will, amongst other things, consider the reasons for non-compliance, whether Social Welfare agencies or Family Service Centres need to be involved, whilst of course considering the welfare and best interests of the children involved.

Has there been a breach?

Having considered all of these factors, the Court will decide whether there has been a breach of the Child Arrangements Order without reasonable excuse. At this point the Court has a number of options it can use. The Court could for example, refer the parents to mediation or may decide that a variation of the order is appropriate, this might include reconsidering contact or even living arrangements for the child.

The Court has the option to issue a Contact Enforcement Order, impose fines or in extreme circumstances impose a prison sentence.

The approach taken by the Family Justice Courts

It is frustrating when an ex does not comply with your wishes, even more so when these wishes have already been ordered by the Court but it is almost always better to try and resolve the dispute between yourselves if you possibly can.

The Courts are not necessarily interested in ‘punishing’ the party who is in breach of the order, their concern will always be for the welfare of the child. Therefore, where possible you should try to resolve any practical difficulties and keep dialogue open with your ex, rather than resorting to the lengthy and often costly process of asking the Courts to intervene.

If, however you feel there is no alternative Yeo & Associates LLC can help you make a case for a breach of an order and ask the Court to rule on the situation.

For advice on the arrangements for your children on divorce or separation call Yeo & Associates LLC family law specialists on 62203400.

Parental Rights and Responsibility

The law focuses on the rights of the child

Parental responsibility is defined as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property’.

That means, if you have parental responsibility, you are recognised in the eyes of the law as having all the legal powers to make appropriate decisions in relation to the upbringing of your child.

On a practical level it will, among other things, allow you to contact your child’s GP to obtain or discuss medical treatment for your child, and to play an active role in your child’s education, giving you access to school reports and parents’ evenings.

A mother automatically has parental responsibility, as does a married father irrespective of whether the marriage to the mother occurred before or after the birth of the child. As such, unmarried fathers of children whose birth is registered, whether or not their names are named as the father on the birth certificate of the child, also have parental responsibility.

How to obtain parental responsibility

Many people are shocked and hurt to find that, if parents are unmarried, it is only the mother who has automatic rights with regard to their children.

A father not married to the mother can get this if the two of them make an agreement called a Custody, care and control and access Order. Even not married to the mother, a father has the same rights, for instance, to consent to medical treatment or be involved in the child’s education.

Parental responsibility can be gained by:

  • marrying the mother of your child
  • entering into a voluntary Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother
  • obtaining a Custody, care and control and access Order from the court.

Before the court will make an order granting parental responsibility, a father would need to establish that there is a degree of commitment to the child, a degree of attachment exists between the child and the father, and that the application is being made purely in the interests of the child’s welfare.

Once you have parental responsibility, it must be exercised appropriately and jointly with the mother of the child.

Parental responsibility comes to an end when the child attains the age of 21, years or earlier if a court order is made.

Yeo & Associates LLC can draft a parental responsibility agreement for a fixed fee. Call us on 62203400 or request a call using our online form.

Preventing an ex having contact with their children

The safety and wellbeing of your children in paramount

The starting point in law is that a child is entitled to have a relationship with both parents. This includes seeing them regularly and being involved in their upbringing. If you have serious concerns about the welfare of your children when they are in the care of your ex there may be steps that you can take to limit or manage the contact that they have in a way to ensure your child is kept safe at all times.

It should be explained that the Courts are not interested in your personal issues or objections. It is only natural for there to be difficult situations to overcome after a breakdown in the relationship with your ex, however these will not usually be considered good enough by the Courts to prevent or restrict a child’s relationship with their parents. Therefore, issues such as a new partner, different parenting styles or problems with timekeeping are not usually considered serious enough to stop contact. The Courts will only be interested in what is in the best interests of the child and the starting legal position is that contact should be taking place

A Child Arrangements Order will set out the measures for a child to have a relationship with both parents. If there are safeguarding concerns it may be that contact with the other parent is supervised or indirect.

For advice on the arrangements for your children on divorce or separation call Yeo & Associates LLC family law specialists on 62203400.

Step-parents

Your legal duties and responsibilities for step-children

It is commonplace for estranged couples to set up home with a new partner. In most cases, this is beneficial for the child – once they have got used to the changes – and helps provide a settled, family home. But no matter how closely a step-parent becomes involved in the lives of their partner’s children, or how much they contribute to their upbringing, financially or otherwise, they will not automatically gain parental responsibility.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to looking after step-children. For instance, if a step-parent is looking after a child during school holidays and they have an accident needing serious and urgent medical treatment, a step-parent cannot give consent for this to be carried out. This can only come from someone who has parental responsibility.

Step-parents have been able to acquire parental responsibility through an application under Guardianship and Infancy Act.

On acquiring parental responsibility, a step-parent has the same duties and responsibilities as a natural parent. Parental responsibility is defined as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property’.

Children and Divorce FAQs

Q. How much contact do I have to allow?

Regular and frequent contact with both parents is normally considered important. There are no strict formulas for how much time a child should spend with each parent. Shared parenting does not imply an equal amount of time. The most important thing to consider is what is in the best interests of your child.

For more guidance read pages 11 – 14 of the Resolution booklet Helping parents to help children available as a PDF here.

Q. Can I move abroad with my children?

Unless both parents agree you must obtain the permission of the court to take a child to live abroad. If you would like to apply to the courts for this permission this is something Yeo & Associates LLC can help with.

Q. Can I prevent my ex-partner moving away with my children?

The Court cannot make orders deciding where your ex will live but it is possible to apply to the court to determine where the child will live. This will involve an application to the court which your solicitor can help with. You can book a detailed case assessment to discuss this with a Yeo & Associates LLC lawyer here.

Q. How much does it cost to reach an agreement about the children?

You will need to obtain a quote based on your own circumstances. It’s true to say however that if you can reach agreement between yourselves this needn’t cost anything, as there is no need to involve solicitors or the courts.

If you are unable to communicate with your ex-partner negotiation with the help of a solicitor could cost anything from about S$450 upwards. To attend mediation can cost anywhere between S$2,000 and S$3,000 – and often these costs are shared between both parties.

If you apply formally through the courts for a child arrangements order there are a number of steps in the process and the costs really will depend on whether you can reach an agreement at an early stage or whether the case reaches a final hearing. It is not unusual for there to be two or three hearings before the matter is concluded. To make an initial application costs between S$2,000 and S$2,500 plus a court fee. If the case proceeds all the way through costs are likely to be at least S$8,500.

All of these figures will be subject to GST. Remember the costs of making an application via the courts are cumulative – so if your case went all the way to a final hearing the costs could be S$8,500 – S$15,500, or more.

Q. If I have parental responsibility for my child do I automatically have a right to see them?

Although parental responsibility gives you certain legal rights in relation to the upbringing of your child and gives you some rights in terms of seeing them it does not automatically give you the right to contact them when you wish or have them visit or stay with you. If you cannot agree this amicably with your partner you will need to apply for a Child Arrangements Order from the courts.

Q. If I leave will I be allowed to see my children?

The starting point is that a relationship with both parents is desirable, and likely to be in the child’s best interests, unless there have been allegations of, for example, abuse or neglect. If you cannot agree a sensible pattern of contact with your spouse/partner, you can ask the court to step in and make an order. The court will take into account a number of factors, called the “welfare checklist” to decide what is in the child’s best interests in terms of where they will live and spend time. Such factors include the child’s own wishes and feelings and their age. Clearly, these arrangements need to be age appropriate, and if the child is very young, arrangements may be very different than if your child is a teenager.

Q. How much child maintenance will I get?

If you have children who live with you, you will be entitled to receive maintenance for their benefit from the non-resident parent. The amount will depend on the Child Support Agency’s guidelines.

Q. If I agree to a divorce from my wife, will she automatically get custody of our children?

No, nothing is automatic in family law. In actual fact there is no such thing as ‘custody’ in legal terms anyway. The law focuses on what is in the best interests of the child and begins from the starting point that in most cases the child should have a relationship with both parents. Where the children live and arrangements for contact with the parent they don’t live with are dealt with by the courts only if parents cannot agree.

The court has the power to award a Child Arrangements Order to secure your rights to contact with your children. We can arrange this for you, call on 62203400 to discuss your concerns.

Q. Can I take my children out of the country even if my ex objects?

If you have parental responsibility for your child you can take your child abroad for up to 1 month without the need to obtain special agreement by the courts.

Q. Can I stop my children seeing my ex’s new partner?

Probably not. The way family law works is to assume that your child should have contact with both parents and assume they will only bring them into contact with people who are good for them. If your ex gets a new partner then unless there is a really serious risk to the child, a Court would not stop your child being introduced to them any more than they would stop the children seeing a new partner of yours.

Q. Can my ex change my child’s name?

Not without your, or the Court’s, agreement. The Court would only give their agreement if they were persuaded it was very much in the best interests of the child. There are some exceptions especially when the parents were not married at the time of the child’s birth so if in doubt do check, call 62203400 and speak to one of our family solicitors.

Q. Do I have rights to see my grandchildren?

Unfortunately, grandparents do not have any automatic legal rights in relation to their grandchildren. The legal system recognises the importance of grandparents and offers an opportunity to apply through the court system for a child arrangement order if necessary. Grandparents do not have an automatic right to make that application and you would have to apply to the court for permission to do so. Provided that you could show you have had a meaningful and close relationship with your grandchildren the court is likely to grant permission to apply for the order.

Child Maintenance Checker


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