Part IV – Processes relating to Children
8. Child Representative
(1) The Court may on its own motion, or either party may make an application for the court to appoint a Child Representative pursuant to rule 30 of the Family Justice Rules.
(2) Upon the making of an order for the appointment of a Child Representative, the Registrar will select a member from the Child Representative panel and send a letter of request of acceptance of the appointment by email to the selected member. The member may choose to decline such an appointment. If no response is received within 3 working days of the email, the member is deemed to have declined the appointment.
(3) All members on the Child Representative panel shall inform the Court of any changes to their email addresses.
(4) Upon acceptance of the appointment, the Child Representative will receive a letter from the Registrar confirming the appointment, providing the contact details of the parties and a date of a case conference. The following documents may be enclosed with the letter:
(a) an Information Sheet on Child Representative, which the Child Representative is to give to the parties at the earliest possible opportunity together with any further explanation which the Child Representative deems fit, in compliance with Family Justice Rules and paragraph (7) below;
(b) a Child Representative Practice Note, which the Child Representative is to read carefully and adhere to;
(c) a Child Representative Checklist, which will be used at the case conference; and
(d) a Questionnaire to the parties, which the Child Representative might use to obtain information from the parties.
(5) Within 7 days from the receipt of the confirmation of appointment as described in paragraph (4) above, the Child Representative shall serve file and serve a Notice of Address for Service on Child Representative (Form 187 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions) on the parties to the proceedings.
(6) The unique role of the Child Representative is to ascertain the wishes of the child, keep the child informed and do the necessary to protect the child’s best interest. The Child Representative is also duty bound to ensure that the Court is apprised of all matters relevant to the interest of the child.
(7) Upon accepting the appointment referred to in paragraph (4) above, the Child Representative should act expeditiously in fulfilment of his/her duties as set out in rule 31 of the Family Justice Rules, including the following:
(a) providing the parties and/or solicitors with information about the role of the Child Representative and informing them of the requirements in respect of their communications with the Child Representative and any contributions towards the costs of the Child Representative which the Court may have ordered; and
(b) developing and implementing a plan for engaging the child and involving the child in the decision making process in consultation with any other professional who may be working with the child.
(8) In the event that the Child Representative wishes the Court to make any orders which the Child Representative is of the view necessary for the fulfilment of his/her duties, it shall be done by way of an inter-partes Summons under the proceedings.
(9) In the event that the Child Representative suspects that the child is a victim of abuse, the Child Representative must immediately inform Child Protection Services of the Ministry of Social and Family Development. The Child Representative must also inform the Court by way of letter at the earliest opportunity. The Judge may in his/her discretion call for a case conference.
(10) Where there are any matters which the Child Representative is of the view should only be shared in confidence with the Court in the best interest of the child, the Child Representative should write to court requesting for a case conference with the Judge presiding over the matter. The Judge may in his/her discretion call for a case conference only with the Child Representative. If there are any urgent issues relating to the safety of the child, the Child Representative must write to court immediately requesting for urgent audience.
(11) The Child Representative shall file in Court and serve on parties a Written Submission in Form 188 of Appendix A within the time frame directed by the Court.
(12) All correspondence to Court from the Child Representative or the parties shall be copied to the other party and the Child Representative (unless the Child Representative has been discharged) including that in paragraph (10) above.
9. Examination of children
(1) Applicants for the leave of the Court for a child to be examined or assessed under rule 35 of the Family Justice Rules must draft their applications in the prescribed format in Form 189 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions, with the appropriate modifications to suit the individual case.
(2) A draft Letter of Instruction to Expert Witness in the prescribed format in Form 190 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions, together with the relevant Schedules, must be annexed to the application.
(3) If parties are unable to agree on the expert to be appointed, the Court may consider appointing an expert from the panel of doctors in the Institute of Mental Health.
10. Arrangements for the welfare of children
(1) Section 123 of the Women’s Charter (Cap. 353) sets out the restrictions on the making of the interim judgment final for divorce or nullity of marriage or the granting of a judgment of judicial separation before proper arrangements for the welfare of the children have been made.
(2) To enable the Court to discharge its duty under section 123, counsel should, at the hearing of the proceedings, inform the Court —
(a) whether there are relevant children to whom the section applies;
(b) whether arrangements have or have not been made for the welfare of the children and that if arrangements have been made, whether they are satisfactory or are the best that can be devised in the circumstances;
(c) whether or not it is impracticable for the party or parties appearing before the Court to make such agreements; and
(d) whether or not the circumstances make it desirable that the interim judgment should be made final or as the case may be, that the judgment of judicial separation should be granted without delay.
10A. Service on the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (“ICA”) with Court Orders or Injunctions restraining or prohibiting the taking of child out of jurisdiction
(1) This Paragraph applies to parents and/or parties who intend to seek assistance from the ICA to stop a child from being taken out of jurisdiction.
(2) In proceedings under the Women’s Charter, the Guardianship of Infants Act or the International Child Abduction Act, a Court may grant an order or injunction restraining one or both parent(s) or any other party from taking the child out of jurisdiction without an Order of Court or the consent of the other or both parent(s)/parties.
(3) Any parent and/or party (hereinafter referred to as “the requestor”) who has been granted an order referred to in sub-paragraph (2) and who intends to seek assistance from the ICA to stop the child from being taken out of jurisdiction must file, prior to notifying the ICA, an undertaking in the prescribed Form 190A of Appendix A to these Practice Directions signed personally by the requestor. The filing is to be done in the eLitigation system using the document code “Other Supporting Document”.
(4) The copy of the extracted court order referred to in sub-paragraph (2) and Form 190A that has been filed pursuant to sub-paragraph (3) are to be sent to the ICA via an e-mail not exceeding 5MB in size to the email address set out below (and copied to the other party or the party’s solicitors via email or ordinary mail, whichever applicable) during the ICA’s working hours only and at least one working day in advance before the ICA is to act on the court order:-
ICA’s E-mail address: ICA_FJC_Notification@ica.gov.sg ICA’s working hours are:-
- Mondays to Fridays: 8am to 5pm
- Public Holiday Eves: 8am to 12pm
- Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays: Closed.
(5) The ICA will not provide assistance to stop the child from being taken out of jurisdiction if any party fails to comply with the filing and e-mail requirements provided in this Paragraph.