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Singapore Government

Divorce Support

FAQs

FAQs

FAQs on impact of COVID-19 Safe Management Measures on child access

Q1: My ex-spouse has care and control of my child. Can face-to-face access arrangements continue?

Private face-to-face access arrangements are generally allowed. However, please keep movement and the need for travel to a minimum to lower the risk of transmission across different households,. All these must be done in accordance with the latest measures put in place by the government.

Q2: The 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: Safe management measures are in place at all Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) and Strengthening Families Programme@Family Service Centres (FAM@FSCs) to safeguard the health and safety of all staff and clients.

Both the DSSAs and FAM@FSCs, in accordance with the prevailing government safe management measures, may conduct session(s) remotely, have a combination of both remote and face-to-face sessions or even postpone the sessions. During periods where safe management measures are heightened to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19, online access sessions would be the default.

The agency will contact 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 period?

Q5: My ex-spouse and I quarrel about access arrangements all the time. It has become worse during this 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 if they are in accordance with the latest safe management measures put in place by the government. Parents should co-operate with each other, and find practical and suitable solutions that best serve the interests of their children while complying with the latest safe management 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?

The Courts will continue to conduct hearings, including applications to vary existing orders, with the appropriate safe management measures in place. Please seek your own legal advice.

Q11: I am feeling down and stressed about my divorce and/or access arrangements for my child during this 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) and Strengthening Families Programme@Family Service Centres (FAM@FSCs) can provide counselling support for you or your child. You may contact the agency nearest to you. Please refer here for their contact details.

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



Other FAQs

Q1: What is the difference between separation and divorce? 

Unlike a divorce, when you are separated, you are still legally married to your spouse even though you are living apart. If you were to decide to get divorced, you would need to go through the legal proceedings to dissolve 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 marriages under the Muslim law.) 
  2. The financial and psychological impact of divorce on your family 
  3. Your housing and living arrangements
  4. The parenting plan for your children and their well-being 
  5. How prepared you are for life changes after 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 all Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) and Strengthening Families Programme@Family Service Centres (FAM@FSCs). The staff at these agencies 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 and leads to better outcome for your children.

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 Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) and Strengthening Families Programme@Family Service Centres (FAM@FSCs? 

The support programmes and counselling services provided by the DSSAs/FAM@FSCs are free. To find out more please contact your nearest agency

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 seek legal guidance under the On-site Legal Clinic provided by the Community Justice Centre for assistance to vary your maintenance order. You may also choose to make an application directly via Family Justice Courts Integrated Family Application Management System under "Maintenance Order Application" - "Variation of 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 National Anti-Violence Helpline at 1800-777-0000.
  2. If there is imminent danger to life and safety, call the police at 999, or go to your nearest Neighbourhood Police Post or Centre for help.
  3. Seek medical treatment or examination if you are injured.
  4. Seek advice from a Family Violence Specialist Centre (FVSC). The FVSC may also assist you in applying for a Personal Protection Order.

For more information, please click here.