What is the legal position in relation to access or contact or visitation following the breakdown of a relationship or marriage?

The court has the power to place a child in the custody of either parent.

A parent with custody over the child has control and responsibility over the upbringing, education, health and religion of the child. 

A parent with care and control of the child has the right to make daily decisions about a child’s upbringing. This right naturally belongs to the parent with whom the child lives.

The court usually grants access to the parent who does not have care and control of the child. Access gives the parent a right to regular contact with the child. Access can be unsupervised, but is usually supervised if there are risks of emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

The Singapore court has endorsed the concept of joint parental responsibility, even where there is acrimony between the parents. Singapore courts now generally place children in the joint custody of both parents. Courts may not order joint custody in exceptional circumstances such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse of the child by one parent, or where the relationship between the parties is such that co-operation is impossible.

Orders for joint care and control are comparatively rare in Singapore. In deciding which parent should be given care and control of the children.