The Family Court of Singapore was set up on 1 March 1995 as a specialised forum for family members to seek legal redress for all family-related disputes.
When the Family Court first began hearing cases, it only dealt with applications for maintenance and protection orders under the Women’s Charter. In 1996, the Chief Justice made an order transferring all matrimonial proceedings under Part X of the Women’s Charter and guardianship proceedings under the Guardianship of Infants Act to the Family Court from the High Court.
The Family Court is now a unified family court, dealing with all family proceedings in Singapore. Its jurisdiction covers:
- adoption proceedings under the Adoption of Children Act
- divorce, nullity and judicial separation proceedings under Part X of the Women’s Charter
- guardianship, custody, care and control of and access to children under the Guardianship of Infants Act and Part X of the Women’s Charter
- division of matrimonial assets under Part X and section 59 of the Women’s Charter
- personal protection orders under Part VII of the Women’s Charter
- spousal and child maintenance under Parts VIII and X of the Women’s Charter
- enforcement of maintenance orders made by Singapore courts, the Maintenance of Parents Tribunal and the Syariah Court under section 71 and Part IX of the Women’s Charter and the Maintenance of Parents Tribunal Act
- reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders made by foreign courts or tribunals under the Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act and Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act
The Family Justice Model
The philosophy of the Family Court is to protect family obligations so that family ties may be strengthened and preserved. Family obligations are those duties that have to be discharged by each spouse to the other, by a parent to his child, and vice versa, and by all persons to their family members. These include a parent's responsibility to maintain, nurture and care for his children, an adult child's duty to maintain his parent, a husband's duty to maintain his wife, and the duty of all family members to treat each other with care, concern and respect.