GRANDPARENTS’ RIGHTS TO GUARDIANSHIP, CUSTODY AND ACCESS
When a couple goes through a divorce, the time they have with their child will become more limited, as they have to share it with the other party. The divorce may be even more heart-breaking for grandparents, who are often also deeply affected by a divorce and some may even find themselves losing their access to their grandchildren entirely. Is there anything that a grandparent can do to protect his relationship with his grandchild when the marriage of his child breaks down?
Parents have a unique right to the custody, care and control, and access of their child
In deciding on the orders related to the child in a divorce, such as custody, care and control, and access, the promotion of the welfare of the child is of the greatest consideration, and Singapore courts have held that the welfare of the child includes the right to have their bonds with their natural parents preserved. Therefore, under Singapore law, the natural parents of a child have a special position as persons with a primary right and responsibility to care for the child. Almost without exception, either one or both of the parents will be granted custody and care and control of the child. It is only in the most serious of cases of abuse or neglect by the parents that courts may consider appointing grandparents as the guardians of the child. This means that under normal circumstances, relatives such as grandparents or aunts and uncles have no legal standing to apply for custody, care and control, or access to the child in a divorce, even if they could provide a better home environment for the child than the parents.
Courts recognise the role grandparents can play in raising a child
Although grandparents have no explicit rights to make applications for ancillary orders relating to a child in divorce proceedings, the courts do recognise the value of the grandparents’ involvement in helping the family through a divorce, and encourage divorcing spouses to nature the bonds between grandparents and grandchild.
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