Guides & References

Legal Considerations

Legal Considerations

Like any other mother, there are certain legal issues pertaining to your child that you should take note of. Read below for some common legal matters that unmarried mothers face.

When in doubt, it is best that you consult a lawyer as circumstances may vary and your situation might be different from that of someone else’s.

Birth Registration

There isn’t a hard and fast rule on whether you should add your child’s father’s name in his/her birth certificate (BC). If his name is in your child’s BC, it is highly likely that you will need his consent in certain matters concerning your child (e.g. primary 1 registration, passport application). Regardless of whether or not your child’s father’s name is stated in the BC, the law may still place certain duties or responsibilities (like child maintenance) on him.

To find out more on registering your child’s birth, read this.

Child Custody

Q. Can you claim child maintenance from your child’s father?

A. Yes. Section 68 of the Women’s Charter (Cap. 353) governs the duty of parents to maintain children. The duty applies regardless of whether or not the children are legitimate:

For more information on child maintenance and how to apply for it, read this.

Q. What rights does the biological father have?

A. Under the Guardianship of Infants Act (Cap. 122), both biological parents have equal rights to guardianship, with the welfare of the child as the main consideration. One parent does not have greater rights over the other parent. Apart from welfare factors like which parent is a better carer (in terms of spending time with the child and having the financial capacity), the court also places importance on the stability of your child. If your child has been staying with you all along, and has not been in contact with his biological father for many years, it is likely that custody will be given to you, presuming he has been well taken care of by you.

In matrimonial law, the relationship between parents and children is seen in terms of custody, care and control, and access:

  • Custody: Responsibility over the upbringing and education of the child, i.e. decision-making power over important aspects of the child’s life
  • Care and control: Authority and responsibility over the day-to-day matters of the child, child resides with this parent
  • Access: Regular hours of contact with the child, e.g. one day during the weekend, or partial weekday too, overnight access
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