Child Custody Lawyers in Singapore: Do I Need One?

Last updated on April 13, 2022

parents pulling a crying child in between them as they argue.

Child custody issues may arise during your marriage, during divorce proceedings at the ancillary matters stage, or after your divorce. If you are given custody of your child, you are granted the authority to make major decisions regarding your child on matters such as education, religion and healthcare.

However, child custody is not the same as care and control of the child. Unlike child custody, which can be granted to both parents, care and control is usually given to only one parent. The parent with care and control will live with the child and manage the child’s day-to-day matters.

The idea of having to fight for the right to be involved in major decisions regarding your child’s life may be overwhelming. Having a child custody lawyer on your side can help you navigate through child custody matters in Singapore with greater ease and allow you to better achieve your desired outcome.

This article will cover:

Who are Child Custody Lawyers?

Child custody lawyers are lawyers who can advise you on custody situations and represent you in court for child custody proceedings. In doing so, they will be able to assist you in various matters, including acquiring or keeping custody of your child (more below).

Child custody lawyers are typically also family lawyers or divorce lawyers. In Singapore, family lawyers handle divorce matters as part of their job scope, including the custody of your children. Divorce lawyers are family lawyers who specialise in divorce matters and will be able to assist you with child custody matters as well.

How Can a Child Custody Lawyer Help Me?

If you are facing a contentious child custody dispute in court, representing yourself may pose a number of difficulties if you are not familiar with court proceedings, child custody laws or even evidence laws.

You may find it challenging to present your case to the court effectively, and this may impact your ability to obtain or maintain custody of your child. It is thus recommended that you engage a child custody lawyer to guide you through your case.

A child custody lawyer may assist you in a number of ways, such as by:

  • Explaining the types of custody orders that can be made by the court, and how the type of child custody order is determined;
  • Advising you as you participate in child custody mediation and representing you in court;
  • Applying for a variation of a child custody order following your wishes;
  • Preparing a defence against a requested variation of a child custody order by the other parent if you disagree with the request;
  • Taking action to prevent interference with your child custody rights (i.e. if you are being excluded from decision-making despite having been granted custody over your child);
  • Advising you on court proceedings, as well as on how to conduct yourself in court;
  • Handling other ancillary matters, such as child maintenance.

Child custody matters are understandably very stressful and emotionally draining. Your lawyer’s guidance will help you get through the entire process with as few hiccups as possible.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Child Custody Lawyer?

Depending on the circumstances of your case and the stage at which you engage a lawyer (i.e. before divorce proceedings are commenced, at the stage concerning ancillary matters, including child custody, or post-divorce when you wish to vary a child custody order), the legal fees charged by a child custody lawyer may vary.

If you engage a lawyer early, such as at the start of your divorce proceedings, the lawyer will handle more matters on your behalf and likely charge higher fees for doing so. In addition, if your child custody case is complicated and is contested in court, more work has to be done. Accordingly, the lawyer will likely charge higher fees as well.

Fees may also vary from lawyer to lawyer. However, even if you engage a lawyer with the cheapest rates for the simplest child custody case in Singapore, you will have to be prepared to fork out at least a few thousand dollars.

For more information on the costs of divorce (which includes the settling of child custody issues during the ancillary matters stage), please refer to our divorce fee guide.

What Happens If I Cannot Afford to Engage a Child Custody Lawyer?

Apply for legal aid

If you cannot afford to engage a child custody lawyer, you may consider applying for legal aid at the Legal Aid Bureau (LAB), which is available for Singapore citizens and permanent residents. A lawyer will be appointed to assist you with your child custody matters, and such assistance includes representation in court.

To qualify for legal aid at the LAB, you will have to pass a means and merits test. The means test will assess your financial eligibility and the merits test will determine if your case has a reasonable chance of success in court. Do note that under the LAB’s scheme, you will still have to pay a small sum, usually not exceeding S$1,650 (though it may be more in certain cases).

For more information on how to apply for legal aid at the LAB, visit the Ministry of Law’s website.

Represent yourself in court

Alternatively, you may choose to represent yourself in court. As mentioned previously, however, this may be a challenging process. You will have to familiarise yourself with the court proceedings and all relevant laws. You must also be able to organise your information and present what you believe is in your child’s best interest, using facts and the law to support your case.

Attend a pro bono legal consultation at a legal clinic

You may also consider going down to legal clinics and attend free-of-charge legal consultations on how you can proceed with your child custody case. Do note that you will be provided only with advice and the volunteer lawyers cannot represent you in court.

How Do I Find a Child Custody Lawyer in Singapore? 

There is no fixed way to find a lawyer that is best suited for you and your case. However, to start off, you may consider relying on word-of-mouth, such as by getting recommendations from trusted friends and relatives. This way, you will be able to find out if they have had good experiences with their lawyers and/or the law firms.

It is also recommended that you do more research online and meet the lawyer(s) from the law firm in person, even if you have heard rave reviews about them. Child custody matters are significant and hiring a lawyer can be costly, so it is important that you make an informed decision when choosing a lawyer and/or the law firm.

To get started with your online research, browse our list of experienced divorce lawyers in Singapore.

What Should I Look Out For When Hiring a Child Custody Lawyer?

Once you have shortlisted some child custody lawyers, you may contact him/her via email, phone or the law firm’s website to schedule an appointment. Some lawyers are open to having a free first consultation, but be sure to clarify this before confirming your appointment.

At the appointment, ask the child custody lawyer what he/she can do for you, what you will have to do in relation to child custody proceedings, and the estimated legal fees for the services you need.

You might want to look out for a lawyer with a proven track record of representing child custody cases similar to yours. This way, you can be assured that your lawyer has experience in the relevant issues that may crop up.

Your lawyer should also be transparent in setting out legal fees and all the relevant steps in child custody proceedings. This helps you ensure that:

  • Engaging his/her services is well within your means, and that
  • You are fully aware of what you need to do so you can make adequate preparations for any upcoming custody battle.

However, at the end of the day, what is most important is that you are comfortable sharing everything related to your child custody matter with the lawyer. You should also feel confident that the lawyer will be able to act in your best interests. Avoid rushing to choose a lawyer – there are many child custody lawyers in Singapore, and you will definitely be able to find one who is best suited for you and your case.

For more information, you may refer to our guide to choosing a good divorce lawyer in Singapore.

Child custody disputes in Singapore can be complicated and emotionally taxing. It is recommended that you engage a child custody lawyer to ensure a smooth and efficient process, as well as to improve your chances of securing the most desired outcome that will be in the best interests of your child.

Once again, take your time to find a lawyer that is best suited for your case, so that you can rest assured that you will be in good hands.

You may get in touch with child custody and divorce lawyers here.

Before getting a divorce
  1. Drafting a Deed of Separation in Singapore (Instead of Divorcing)
  2. Alternatives to Divorce in Singapore: A Practical Guide
  3. Process for Getting Divorced in Singapore (With Diagram)
  4. What are the Legal Grounds for Getting a Divorce?
  5. 3 Finance Questions To Ask Before a Divorce
  6. Practical Preparations for a Divorce
  7. How to Divorce Within 3 Years of Marriage in Singapore
  8. Getting Divorced: Documents and Evidence to Prepare
  9. Getting a Divorce Due to “Irreconcilable Differences” in Singapore
  10. Online Divorce in Singapore: How It Works and Should You Get One?
  11. How Can I Divorce Overseas After Marrying in Singapore?
Divorce Fees
  1. Comprehensive Guide to Divorce Fees in Singapore
Getting a Divorce Lawyer
  1. 7 Experienced Female Divorce Lawyers in Singapore (2022)
  2. Can a Divorcing Couple Use the Same Lawyer? Pros and Cons
  3. 7 Best Divorce and Family Lawyers in Singapore (2022)
  4. The Complete Guide to Choosing a Good Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  5. Don’t Just Go for the Cheapest Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  6. Find Highly Rated Divorce Lawyers in Singapore
  7. Child Custody Lawyers in Singapore: Do I Need One?
Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage
  1. How to Prove Adultery for Divorce Purposes in Singapore
  2. Getting a Divorce: How to Prove Desertion
  3. Getting a Divorce by Mutual Agreement in Singapore
  4. How to Prove Unreasonable Behaviour in a Singapore Divorce
  5. How to Prove Separation for a Singapore Divorce
Application for Divorce Part I: Dissolution of Marriage
  1. Your Spouse Doesn't Want to Divorce: What to Do
  2. Procedure for Dissolution of Marriage
  3. Simplified Uncontested Divorce vs Contested Divorce in Singapore
  4. Mandatory Parenting Programme Guide for Divorcing Parents
  5. Divorce Mediation in Singapore
  6. Divorce Application: What to Do If Your Spouse Cannot be Found
Application for Divorce Part 2: Ancillary Matters (Maintenance, Assets, Custody)
  1. Contempt of Court in Divorce: When You Can be Punished
  2. Guide to Co-Parenting for Divorcing Parents in Singapore
  3. Procedure for Ancillary Matters
  4. Maintenance of Spouse in a Singapore Divorce
  5. Filling in a Matrimonial Property Plan for a Singapore Divorce
  6. Dividing Matrimonial Assets in a Singapore Divorce
  7. What Happens to Your HDB Flat after Divorce?
  8. What Happens to Gifts Between Spouses During a Divorce?
  9. What Happens to Property and Assets Located Overseas Upon a Divorce in Singapore?
  10. Child Custody, Care and Control & Access: Singapore Guide
  11. Getting Divorced: Child Maintenance in Singapore
  12. Singapore Divorcee's Guide to Relocating Your Child Overseas
Post-Divorce
  1. How to Vary a Child Custody Order in Singapore
  2. How to Appeal Your Divorce Case in Singapore
  3. Divorce Certs in Singapore: How to Get a Copy and Other FAQs
  4. Transfer of Matrimonial Home to Ex-Spouse After Divorce
  5. Can Divorcees Buy or Rent HDB Flats, and How?
  6. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Does Not Provide Maintenance
  7. How to Vary a Maintenance Order After a Singapore Divorce
  8. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Denies You Access to Your Child
  9. Division of CPF Assets (Monies, House, Investments) After a Divorce
Expatriate Divorce
  1. Divorce for British Expats: Spousal Maintenance Under the Law of England and Wales
  2. Settling Ancillary Matters in Singapore After Foreign Divorce
  3. Immigration Issues for Divorcing Expatriates
  4. Can Foreigners Divorce in Singapore?
  5. Expat or Foreigner Divorce in Singapore: 10 Legal Issues to Consider
  6. Hague Convention: Overseas Child Abduction in Singapore Divorce
  7. Case Study: Cross-Border Child Custody and the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction
  8. Can British Expats in Singapore Choose to Divorce in England?
  9. Divorce for British Expats: Approach to Matrimonial and Non-Matrimonial Assets in England vs Singapore
  10. Divorce for British Expats: How the English Courts Deal with Financial Matters
Muslim or Syariah Divorce
  1. Fasakh in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore: Grounds & Process
  2. Divorce by Cerai Taklik: Guide for Muslim Wives in Singapore
  3. Muslim Divorce in Singapore
  4. Talak in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore (and Its Effects)
  5. Guide to Divorcing by Khuluk for Muslim Wives in Singapore
  6. Applying for Nafkah Idaah and Mutaah in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore
Other divorce matters
  1. Guide to Personal Protection Orders in Singapore
  2. Case Study - Love conquers All: The Divorce That Didn’t Happen
Annulment
  1. Annulling a Singapore Marriage: Requirements and Process
  2. What Happens to Your HDB Flat After an Annulment?
Separation
  1. Separation in Singapore Via Deed of Separation and More
  2. Judicial or Legal Separation in Singapore: When and How to File
Prenuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements
  1. Prenuptial Agreements in Singapore
  2. Should You Make a Post-Nuptial Agreement in Singapore?