The Singapore courts apply a standard called the “welfare principle”. It depends on the best interests of the child. This standard is not only about financial or physical comfort, but the courts will also look into the child’s moral, religious and physical welfare as well as the child’s affection to the parent.

The courts may ask the social services or counselor to assess the child and parent and suggest a type of custody order which is suitable to them. The courts usually ask for a Social Welfare Report prepared by officers from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. The officers, in preparing the report, would observe the parents’ interaction with the child. This report is confidential, it is for the judges perusal only and it shall not be revealed to the parents and/or child.

The list below shows the non-exhaustive factors that the courts may consider in deciding the type of custody order:

  • The main caregiver of the child during his/her formative years
  • The present living arrangements
  • The child’s wishes
  • The parent’s wishes
  • The child’s age
  • The parents’ financial capability
  • Presence of family support
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