Family Lawyer Singapore
Family law in Singapore covers legal issues concerning marriage, adoption, and parenthood. An excellent family lawyer can help resolve legal disputes between persons who are related by blood or marriage. These conflicts may involve paternity, guardianship, child custody, child support, adoption, and divorce.
The end of a relationship can be quite a difficult time, and litigation could make things worse. According to most family lawyers, avoiding the litigation process will most likely save you time and money as well as lead to a better outcome.
A good family lawyer will advise you of your legal rights, entitlements and obligations. They should be able to provide you with different options on how to settle disagreements with the other party.
Some of the topics that you could discuss with a family lawyer include:
- Judicial separation
- Parental rights
- Separation of assets
- Domestic violence
In recent days, due to the global pandemic, Covid-19, many households have seen an upsurge in domestic violence. The remaining portions of this article will help to shed light on this matter.
Family Violence And Your Legal Rights
What is family violence?
The Women’s Charter defines family violence as:
- wilfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place, a family member in fear of hurt;
- causing hurt to a family member by such act which is known or ought to have been known would result in hurt;
- wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against his will; or
- causing continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause anguish to a family member.
However, any force used lawfully in self-defence, or by way of correction towards a child below 21 years of age, does not amount to family violence.
Family violence may be committed by:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A child (including adopted or stepchildren)
- A parent or parent-in-law
- A sibling
- Any other relative which the court may regard as a member of the family in the given circumstances.
How can a PPO or DEO help a victim of family violence?
The victim of such a situation, or party on the victim’s behalf (the complainant) may take out a complaint at the Family Courts and apply for a Personal Protection Order and/or Domestic Exclusion Order against the party committing the family violence (the respondent).
A PPO will restrain the respondent from committing family violence against the complainant.
An Expedited Order (EO) serves to protect the complainant while the PPO application is in progress, and may be issued where the Court is satisfied that there is an imminent danger of family violence.
A DEO will exclude the respondent from a shared residence where parties have been living together as members of the same household. It does not affect the legal title of the respondent in that property.
The wilful breach of a PPO, EO or DEO is an offence and a party that breaches such PPO/ EO/ DEO may be liable to a fine or even imprisonment.
Who can make the application?
Besides the victim, other parties may make the application on behalf of the victim.
The applicant/complainant may be:
- The victim himself, provided he is aged 21 and above
- Where the victim is below 21 years old, by a guardian or relative or person responsible for the victim’s care
Where the complainant is below the age of 21 but is or has been married, he may take up an application where the victim is:
- His child
- A relative also below the age of 21 whom he is responsible for the care of (eg. younger siblings)
What is the process like, and how can a lawyer help?
An application may be made online, or at the Family Justice Courts.
Appointed lawyers may assist with to presenting the case subsequently in mediation sessions or to conduct a trial for the judge to determine if a PPO is necessary for the victim’s protection.
Typically, parties would be directed to attend counselling. Where counselling is unsuccessful, the matter would proceed to trial. A lawyer may render much-needed assistance for court appearances and prepare the necessary documents and evidence. During the hearing, a layer would present the party’s case to the court which would then arrive at a finding as to whether a PPO should be granted.
GETTING PROFESSIONAL MEDIATION
Divorce and family disputes can become emotionally charged and draining. On – going litigation can further add to this emotional stress and the final decision by the Courts may not ultimately resolve the relational aspects of the dispute.
All cases coming before the Family Court are managed pro-actively by judges from the start and where necessary, the Courts can direct that parties undergo counselling and mediation to try and reach amicable resolution of their disputes instead of proceeding with adjudication.
It is recommended that you explore mediation to help you resolve family disputes as far as possible, in a less acrimonious way. You can attend mediation before a mediator judge at the family court or appoint a private mediator (often a senior family practitioner) jointly with your spouse.
Mediation is a more affordable and faster way to resolve disputes. Parties can find creative ways and arrangements weaved into a settlement to deal specifically with your family circumstances.
It gives parties the chance to voice out and control the speed and scope of the discussions. Unlike a Court imposed order, where one party may not accept the outcome and then proceed to appeal, a settlement reached at mediation will be an acceptable resolution to both parties.
With mediation, parties can improve communication with one another and work together to co parent moving forward on the arrangements agreed upon.
Our team understands that getting a divorce is an emotional process. We will work hand in hand with you and help you work out the basis on which you wish to obtain an amicable resolution of all matters related to the divorce. We also work closely with family counsellors and therapists to help you in your journey to overcome your emotional concerns and that of your children if necessary.
We also have experienced lawyers who are accredited family mediators, who can facilitate a mediation, to help you and your spouse work out an agreement such that your divorce journey can end with a workable agreement that can be reflected in a court order by consent and the matter can proceed on an uncontested basis simplified track!