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Child Access Orders during COVID-19

Pkwa family lawyers
  1.  Parliament passed the  Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill on 7 April 2020.

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  2. To combat the spread of COVID-19, the Act lists only 12 situations an individual may leave his or her home, as well as anything reasonably connected with the items on the list. For first time offenders, the penalty is a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of up to 6 months, or both. For second or subsequent offences, the penalty is a fine of up to $20,000, or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both.

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  3. Given that Parliament listed 12 specific situations that a person may leave his/her house, parents may find it almost impossible to carry out access arrangements. We have had many enquiries from anxious parents asking about their rights and obligations on child access as a result of the new law.

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  4. On 9 April 2020, Ministry of Health confirmed via a FAQ on their website that access is allowed and can continue:
  5. Q I am divorced and my children take turns to live with me and my ex-spouse. Can this arrangement continue? 
    This is allowed. However, do keep changes to a minimum, where possible, to lower the risk of transmission across different households.
    Q I am separated/divorced and my spouse/ex-spouse has care and control of my child(ren). I see my children as per access arrangements. Can these access arrangements continue?
    Yes, access arrangements may continue, other than Court-ordered Supervised Exchange and Supervised Visits (SE/SV). However, due to the current situation, the Divorce Support Specialist Agencies have suspended the SE/SV. Parents who are affected may contact the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) via email at dssaprogrammes@msf.gov.sg or via phone at 63240024.

5. Section 4(3)(e) has now been amended to expressly state that a person may also leave the house “to transfer temporary custody or care of a child pursuant to any agreement regarding the access rights of a parent of the child, or in discharge of legal obligations.”

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6.  Accordingly, access can continue during this period and parties should continue to comply with the existing court order on access.

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6Links:

SPEECH BY MR GAN KIM YONG, MINISTER FOR HEALTH, AT THE SECOND READING OF COVID-19 (TEMPORARY MEASURES) BILL, 7 APRIL 2020

Parliament: Private social gatherings of any size, in homes or public spaces, not allowed under new law – The Straits Times

Ministry of Health FAQ 

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ABOUT PKWA FAMILY LAW

PKWA Law is one of Singapore’s largest family & divorce law firms, specialising in divorce law, family law, wills and probate. PKWA Law’s team of family and divorce lawyers are consistently named as leading family lawyers by respected legal publications such as Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, Asian Legal Business, Global Law Experts and Doyle’s Guide to Leading Singapore Family Lawyers.

Contact us at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation.

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