What is care and control of a child and what does it entail?


What is care and control of a child, and what does it entail?

Care and control refer to the responsibility of being a child’s daily caregiver.  As such, when a parent is granted care and control of a child, it means that:

  1. The child will live with the parent to whom care and control is granted; and
  2. The parent with care and control will have the right to make daily decisions for the child, such as what the child eats, and when they should go to bed.


How is care and control different from custody and access?

Custody refers to the right to make major decisions for the child in the major areas of their life: education, religion and healthcare.

Separately, access is given in place of care and control. It allows the parent who care and control is not granted to spend a certain amount of time with the child.


What is shared care and control of a child?

Following the definition above, shared care and control mean that both parents will take turns to be responsible for being the child’s daily caregiver. The parent with whom the child is living with under an arrangement under an order for shared care and control will be the primary caregiver of the child at that time.

For example, an order for shared care and control is granted to Parents A and B. Parent A is granted care and control of the child from Monday to Thursday. Parent B is granted care and control of the child from Friday to Sunday. Parent A will therefore be the caregiver for the child from Monday to Thursday while Parent B will be the caregiver for the child from Friday to Sunday.


What does the Court consider when making an order for shared care and control?

Ultimately, the Court will prioritise the welfare of the child when deciding over children’s issues. Whilst an order for shared care and control appears to be fair for the parents, the Court is not likely to make such an order if it is not in the best interests of the child to do so. The Court will look at the following factors (not exhaustive) as a whole when considering a child’s welfare:


  1. Conduct of the parents towards the child;
  2. Wishes of the parents and child, especially if the child can form an independent opinion;
  3. Stability so as not to disrupt the child’s development;
  4. Whether the child should be cared for by the mother; and
  5. Whether both parents should be involved.


In addition to the above, a high level of co-operation is necessary for an order for shared care and control to be effective. Therefore, the Court is unlikely to grant an order for shared care and control, especially if the divorce is acrimonious, and the parties are unable to cooperate. In such a situation, the Court is likely to make an order for sole care and control to a parent with liberal access to the other parent.

For example, in the case of AQL v AQM, the learned judge dismissed the father’s appeal for shared care and control for the following reasons:


  1. The mother was able to take care of the child capably;
  2. Constant relocation would be too disruptive for the child’s development given her young age; and
  3. The parents had different parenting styles and were not able to cooperate or compromise.


In light of the above, it is in the child’s best interests that parties can cooperate and compromise as much as possible. This will help to support shared care and control arrangements and ensure that any disruption to the child’s development is minimised.




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