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VPG v VPF [2021] SGHCF 18

Outcome: Appeal allowed in part.


1 The Wife and Husband filed cross-appeals against the District Judge’s decision involving the care and control and relocation of their child. The Wife appealed against the decision on overseas travel with the child as well as the retention of the child’s important documents, while the Husband appealed against the District Judge’s decision refusing the relocation of the child and the order of shared care and control. The main issue on appeal was on the relocation of their child.

Court’s Decision:

2 The Husband’s appeal was allowed, and he was granted sole care and control of the child and leave to relocate the child with him

3 The current living arrangements of the child as well as the willingness of the relocating party to stay on in Singapore are relevant factors in determining whether a relocation order should be ordered. However, they are not conclusive nor dominant factors in determining relocation applications. The willingness of a party to stay in Singapore speaks more of their commitment to the child than whether they can or intend to stay in Singapore: at [6] and [11].

4 In relocation applications, whether a child is well-settled in Singapore is a relevant factor that should be given appropriate weight. However, it is also important to note that in a globalised world, families are geographically mobile and adaptable, and the weight to be placed on well-settledness will depend on other related circumstances including how many years the child has lived in the country, the age of the child, and whether that country has been the family’s home for many years. Well-settledness in a country is not a circumstance that can never change. The passage of time and support from a loving parent can enable a child to adapt well to transitions in life: at [11].

5 In situations where the family’s connection to Singapore is tenuous, where the parents have no permanent legal status in Singapore and the child has lived in Singapore for only a very short time, the courts are more likely to grant relocation: at [7] and [11] to [12].

6 Parental responsibility is a legal duty to be discharged by both parents. A strong parent is one who can support the child in having a close relationship with the other parent. Different parenting styles is not a reason to bar co-parenting, and overt interference from in-laws preventing one party’s access to the child is unhealthy for the child’s welfare. While kinship support is good for a child, it cannot replace the child’s parents in their life: at [9] to [10].

7 In a case where relocation is allowed and one parent chooses not to follow the child to the country the child is to be relocated to, shared care and control is no longer feasible. However, if the parent chooses to migrate to the country the child is relocated to, then shared care and control would become possible: at [8] and [15].

The full text of decision can be found here

This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.

Subject Matters:General children issues

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