Applying to be a Legal Guardian in Singapore

Last updated on March 31, 2022

There are two different types of legal guardians: a natural guardian (i.e. a parent) or an appointed guardian. Regardless of which type, legal guardians are responsible for the welfare and safety of the child.

There are several situations in which one can obtain guardianship of a child.

1. Right of Surviving Parent to be the Child’s Guardian

In the unfortunate event that one parent passes away, the other parent will obtain guardianship of the child.

2. Guardian Appointed by Deed or Will

A guardian can also be appointed in a will. This is known as a “testamentary guardian”.

A testamentary guardian is required to reside with the child. This can be in either Singapore, or overseas with the court’s permission. However, you are not required to be a relative of the parent/child. For example, one or both of the parents of a child could appoint a close family friend as testamentary guardian after the death of the parent(s). This is valid if the appointment is by deed or in their will.

Read more about how to appoint a testamentary guardian in our other article.

3. Applying to be a Guardian

In the absence of the above, a person can apply under the Guardianship of Infants Act (GIA) to be appointed legal guardian of the child. For example, in a family where the father is deceased and the mother is frequently in and out of jail, the aunt may intervene by applying to be the legal guardian of the child.

Do note that if you wish to apply to be a guardian, you are also required to reside in the same country as the child but are not required to be a relative of the parent/child.

The application procedure begins with the filing of documents. Documents required include an originating application and an affidavit in support of the originating application. If you are not represented by a lawyer, you can file your documents at the LawNet Service Bureaus.

Note that there may also be other documents required depending on your situation.

If an order has already been made regarding the custody of your child but you wish to apply for an amendment of the order, you can also do so under the GIA. For example, this could occur some time after a divorce, and the Court granted your former spouse custody over the child. In addition to the above documents, you will have to provide a copy of your marriage certificate.

If you are involved in Muslim divorce proceedings, you must also file a Syariah Court commencement certificate, or both you and your partner’s written consent to the commencement of proceedings in the Family Justice Courts and a Syariah Court certificate of attendance.

It is recommended that you seek a lawyer to assist you with the filing of these documents.

4. A Court-Appointed Guardian

The court may also appoint someone as guardian of the child, considering the welfare of the child as the most important factor in deciding whether to appoint that person.

The court may appoint someone as guardian of the child in several situations:

  • The absence of a deed or will appointing a guardian after the parents of the child have passed away
  • The absence of someone applying to be a guardian after the parents of the child have passed away
  • The court disagrees with the choice of appointed guardian after parents of the child pass away such as when the appointed guardian is incapable of taking care of the child
  • In the event of a divorce and where, for example, either parent is incapable of taking care of the child due to poor finances

As court procedures will take some time, the child will be placed in foster care in the interim. Therefore, it is best to appoint a guardian by deed or will to avoid this.

  1. Remarriage for Divorcees in Singapore: When Can I Remarry?
  2. Civil Marriage in Singapore: How to Register and Solemnise
  3. Muslim Marriage in Singapore: How to Register, Inter-Faith and More
  4. What is the governing law for your marriage?
  5. Marriage Counselling: How Does It Work and What to Expect
  6. A Singaporean Woman's Rights under the Women's Charter
  1. Termination of Pregnancy: Is Abortion Legal in Singapore?
  1. Adopting a Child in Singapore: What You Need to Know
  2. Why Might an Unwed Parent Adopt His or Her Own Biological Child?
  3. Hiring a Surrogate: 6 Legal Issues for Singaporean Couples
  4. Adoption Leave in Singapore: An Essential Guide For Employees
Legal Guardianship
  1. Applying to be a Legal Guardian in Singapore
Assisted Reproduction
  1. Who are the legal parents of children conceived through assisted reproduction?
  2. In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) in Singapore: Process & Costs
Raising Children
  1. Parents’ Guide to Family Guidance Orders in Singapore
  2. Parents' Guide to Baby Bonus in Singapore: Eligibility, Payout & More
  3. 7 Brutal Truths About Having an Illegitimate Child in Singapore
  4. Foster Care: How Do I Become a Foster Parent in Singapore?
  5. Voluntary Care Agreement for Children in Singapore
  6. Parents’ Guide to Beyond Parental Control Orders in Singapore
  1. Teenage Pregnancy and Rights of Teen Parents in Singapore
  2. Mandatory Counselling: When Will It be Ordered by the Court?
  3. Must Your Report and Register a Birth or Death in Singapore?
  4. Running Away From Home in Singapore: Is It Legal?
  5. Adding a Parent's Name to Your Child's Birth Cert in Singapore
  6. Vulnerable Adults: How Caregivers Can Protect & Care For Them
  7. Maintenance of Parents: Your Child’s Duties and How to File