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Divorce Support

FAQs

FAQs

FAQs on access-related matters for divorced/separated parents during COVID-19 Circuit Breaker period

Q1: I am divorced/separated, and my spouse/ex-spouse has care and control of my child. Can face-to-face access arrangements continue during circuit breaker period?

Yes, face-to-face access arrangements are allowed, if these arrangements have been in place before the circuit breaker period. However, please keep movement and travel to a minimum to lower the risk of transmission across different households, given the latest measures put in place by the government.

Q2: I am separated/ divorced, and Court had ordered Supervised Exchange/Supervised Visitation (SESV) services to assist me in having face-to-face contacts with my child. Can this arrangement continue?

A: From 2nd June 2020 onwards, Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) will be resuming services in phases. Safe management measures will be in place to safeguard the health and safety of all staff and clients.

As part of DSSAs’ enhanced measures, SESV slots will be reduced. In lieu of this, DSSAs will offer remote access services via online platforms.

DSSAs will be contacting their clients accordingly on the arrangements.

Disagreement on access

Q3: My ex-spouse is denying me access to my child. He/she is worried about the general risk of transmission of COVID-19. What can I do to see my child?

Q4: I am divorced/separated. What can I do if my ex-spouse and I disagree on access matters during this circuit breaker period?

Q5: My ex-spouse and I quarrel about access arrangements all the time. It has become worse during this circuit breaker period. I do not want to continue this and prefer to cut him/her off and take care of my child myself. Can I do it?

Q6: I am worried about allowing my ex-spouse to have face-to-face access to my child as I live with my elderly parents. What can I do?

Q7: I am worried about allowing my ex-spouse to have face-to-face access to my child as my ex-spouse is a frontline healthcare worker. What can I do?

Parents are advised to facilitate continued access for their child and may wish to note that not doing so may result in a breach of the terms of their court order. Face-to-face access is still allowed with movement and travel kept to a minimum. Parents should co-operate with each other, and find practical and suitable solutions that serve the best interests of their children while complying with the circuit breaker measures.

Co-parenting is important to enable children to continue to develop well. Studies show that acrimony between divorced parents can affect children adversely. Parents should therefore try to put aside their differences and make decisions in the best interests of their children.

If there is mutual agreement, parents can also consider varying the arrangements or arranging access remotely through telephone, video calls or other online platforms.

Parents who are still unable to reach an agreement may seek their own legal advice or email the Family Justice Courts Registry at fjcourts_family_registry@fjcourts.gov.sg for issues relating to custody and access. Turning to the court for the enforcement of access orders should be the last resort.

Parents can seek counselling and emotional support during difficult times. Please see Q (11) on available support services.

Q8: My ex-spouse and I have agreed on remote access to protect our child and families from possible infection. How do I conduct remote access for my child?

You can facilitate remote access through telephone, video calls or other available online platforms that you and your ex-spouse agree on. The parent with care and control of the child (care parent) will need to assist the child by setting up the session and encouraging the children to participate in the remote session with the access parent.

Care parents are advised to provide some space for the child to interact independently with the access parent. For a younger child, aged 5 years old and below, the care parent may need to be physically around to assist the child but should allow the child to interact with the access parent without disruptions.

Parents having access may find creative ways to connect with the child e.g. use online games. To complement remote access, parents may also encourage their child to send emails, letters or cards to access parents in order to stay in touch. The children may send appropriate pictures or videos of themselves to the access parent as well. The duration of the remote sessions will depend on the attention span and developmental stage of the child.

Q9: My child does not want to see my ex-spouse through face-to-face and/or remote access or talk to him/her on the phone. Must I still facilitate access?

Parents are strongly advised to facilitate continued access for their child. They should note that they could be breaching the terms of their court orders if they do not comply with existing orders.

There are a variety of reasons why a child is reluctant to participate in access. You are encouraged to support your child by addressing his/her emotions regarding the access. It is important to show your child that you will support his/her access with your ex-spouse.

Parents can seek counselling and emotional support during difficult times for themselves or their child. Please see Q (11) on available support services.

Q10: I am concerned about the safety of my child and would like to vary the court order for custody and/or access arrangements. Will I be able to do so in the circuit breaker and Phase 1 period?

The Courts will continue to conduct hearings, including applications to vary existing orders, with the appropriate safety measures in place. Please seek your own legal advice. Please refer to the Family Justice Courts’ Registrar’s Circular No. 4 of 2020 for more details.

Q11: I am feeling down and stressed about my divorce and/or access arrangements for my child during this circuit breaker period. Where can I seek help?

Q12: My child needs some counselling help in relation to my divorce. Where can I get help?

Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) can provide counselling support for you or your child. You may contact the DSSA near you. Please refer here for their contacts:

Those above 18 years old can also contact CPH Online Counselling at www.cphonlinecounselling.sg. This service allows you to seek help anonymously. This service will be provided by professional counsellors through live chat or emails. This is a complimentary service.



Other FAQs

Q1: What is the difference between separation and divorce? 

A separation is not the same as a divorce. 

The key difference between separation and divorce is that when you are separated, you are still legally married to your spouse even though you are living apart. If you later decide to get divorced, you need to go through the legal steps necessary to terminate your marriage. 

Q2. What are some of the pre-divorce considerations? 

Some of the things you need to consider before getting a divorce are: 

  1. The legal requirements based on the type of marriage (for example, you would need to file for divorce with the Family Justice Courts for civil marriages or the Syariah Court for Muslim marriages.) 
  2. The financial and psychological impact of divorce on your family 
  3. Divorce for civil marriages
  4. The parenting plan for your children and their well-being 
  5. The housing and living arrangements that may affect separate household budgets.
  6. How prepared you are for life changes after the divorce 

Q3: How can counselling help my family? 

When a marriage ends, it can be an emotionally difficult time for the family.

Counselling can help your family cope with divorce, as the counsellor may share insights and teach coping skills to help the family manage the aftermath of a divorce. You may be able to learn more about the resources and support that are available in the community. 

Q4: Where can I get counselling and other forms of support? 

Counselling is available at the four Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs). The staff at the DSSAs are experienced social workers and counsellors with specialised skills in working with divorcing and divorced families and children. Counselling is available as individual, joint or family sessions.

Q5: What is co-parenting? 

Co-parenting happens when both you and your ex-spouse continue to work together to raise your children even though you are divorced and may no longer be living together. Cooperative co-parenting gives your children stability, despite changes to the family structure.

Find out more about co-parenting

Q6: Where can I get free legal advice? 

Some organisations offer legal clinics where you can seek free legal advice on divorce matters. These may include child custody, divorce maintenance issues, and/or any other ancillary matters. You can get more information at our Legal Aid page. 

Q7: Are support programmes and counselling offered for free at DSSA? 

The support programmes and counselling services provided by the Divorce Support Specialist Agencies are free. To find out more please contact your nearest DSSA

Q8: How can I get help on child maintenance issues? 

The parent who has custody, care and control of the children can apply for child maintenance. If you are not receiving divorce maintenance regularly, or if you are not receiving the full amount of the maintenance, you may apply to enforce the maintenance order. This is a legal matter and needs to be done through the Courts.

If you prefer not to do this at the Family Justice Courts, you may also file your complaint via the video-filing service which is available at the Maintenance Support Central (MSC) of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations or HELP FSC.

These organisations can also assist with the filing of fresh maintenance applications. The social workers and staff will help you with the application process which uses a video link service with the Family Justice Courts. They can also provide counselling and other areas of social support, if needed.

Parties may also seek to vary their maintenance order if their circumstances have changed. You may approach the Community Justice Centre for assistance to vary your maintenance order. 

Q9: How do I get help when I am faced with family violence? 

If you or your children are the victims of domestic violence, you may

1. Call the police to seek help. 

2. Visit any of the Family Violence Specialist Centres nearest to you for advice and assistance 

  • PAVE: (65) 6555 0390 
  • TRANS SAFE Centre: (65) 6449 9088 
  • Care Corner Project StART: (65) 6476 1482 

For more information, please see Family Violence on the MSF website. 

Q10: What is mediation? 

Mediation is a process that offers a safe and supportive environment for parties to communicate openly with each other. Parties can be guided to explore options for themselves and their children through the assistance of a neutral third party (a mediator). Mediation can help you:

  • Save time, money and the stress of going through the Courts systems 
  • Find better ways of dealing with conflict in a neutral setting 
  • Focus on what is best for your children and family 

For more information on mediation, please see the Singapore Mediation Centre website.