Adoption Law Singapore

Adoption Law Singapore
 
Procedure of Singapore Adoption Law
 
The steps in an adoption proceeding are as follows:
 
Step 1 : File the Adoption Petition
Step 2 : Service of petition on the Attorney General's Chambers
Step 3 : Hearing of the prayer for appointment of Guardian Ad Litem as well as application for dispensation*
Step 4 : Investigation by welfare authorities
Step 5 : Final hearing of Petition*
 
(* denotes a court session where the attendance of the parties and/or their lawyers in court is required.)
 
Step 1: Filing of Adoption Petition

Adoption proceedings commence with the filing of the adoption petition in the prescribed form at the Family Court Registry. The petition must contain:
  1. Residency status of the petitioners (paragraph 2);
  2. Marital status of the petitioners (paragraph 3);
  3. Occupations of the petitioners (paragraph 4);
  4. Age of the petitioners (paragraph 5);
  5. Identity of other persons residing with the petitioners, if any (paragraph 6);
  6. Relationship between the petitioners and the infant, if any (paragraph 7);
  7. Particulars of the infant, for example, sex, marital status, identity of his natural parents, religion, citizenship, race, age, actual custodianship and whether he is entitled to any property (paragraph 8);
  8. The date since the petitioners have supported the infant (paragraph 9);
  9. Whether the infant had been subject to an adoption order or application or petition for an adoption order previously (paragraph 10);
  10. An undertaking by the petitioners to provide for the maintenance and education of the infant (paragraph 11);
  11. Whether consent has been obtained from the natural parent of the infant (paragraph 12);
  12. Whether the petitioners have received or given any payment or reward in consideration of the adoption of the infant (paragraph 13);
The petitioners (the persons making the application) are required to stamp and file the following documents at the Family Court Registry:
  1. 2 copies of the adoption petition;
  2. the original consent of the natural parents / guardian (together with the original translation if the consent is not in the English language);
  3. the original consent of the parent or guardian of the natural parent of the infant if the natural parent is a minor (together with the original translation if the consent is not in the English language);
  4. the original birth certificate of the infant to be adopted (together with the original translation if the birth certificate is not in the English language);
  5. an affidavit exhibiting the endorsement of the child's Dependants' Pass if the child is not a Singapore citizen or permanent resident;
  6. certified true copies of the petitioners' work permits/employment passes/dependants' passes if the petitioners are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents;
  7. the original marriage certificate of the petitioners (together with the original translation if the birth certificate is not in the English language);
  8. 2 copies of the Application for Dispensation of Consent and supporting affidavit to dispense with the consent of the natural parents and/or service of documents on the natural parents, if such consent cannot be obtained; and
  9. A copy of the death certificate of the natural parent who had passed away (if applicable).
Upon receipt of the petition and the accompanying documents, the Family Court Registry will register the petition and fix a date for hearing of Prayer 1, which is the prayer requesting the Attorney General to be appointed as Guardian Ad Litem. Any applications for dispensation will also be fixed on the same day.

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Step 2: Service of Adoption Petition

The Petitioners should serve a copy of the adoption petition on the Attorney General's Chambers. In practice, the Attorney General's Chambers would thereafter peruse the papers and correspond with the petitioners on whether they have objections to the application.
 
The petition should also be served on a person whose consent to the adoption is required. If service cannot or need not be effected, the petitioner should make an application, by way of a Summons-in-Chambers, for dispensation of service of documents. An affidavit (that is, a statement that is sworn or affirmed before a Commissioner for Oaths) should be filed to explain why service could or should not be effected.

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Step 3: Hearing of the application for Guardian Ad Litem to be
Appointed and applications for dispensation
 
The hearing of the application for a person to be appointed as Guardian Ad Litem is held in chambers. On the hearing date, if the Court is satisfied that the Attorney-General has consented to act as guardian ad litem for the child and the written consent of the Attorney-General's Chambers has been stamped and filed in court, the court will appoint the Attorney-General as guardian ad litem. Where the Attorney-General has declined to act as the guardian ad litem, it has the discretion to appoint "any other fit and proper person" as guardian ad litem.
 
At the same hearing, the court will also deal with applications for dispensation of consent as well as dispensation of service of adoption papers. For example, if the petitioners were not able to obtain a natural parent's consent in the prescribed form but can nonetheless produce some other documentary proof that the natural parent had the intention of giving the child away for adoption, an application for dispensation of consent should be made. Such application(s) should be made by way of Summons-in-Chambers and will be heard in chambers. Any person who may object to the application should be notified of the application. The court will make an order on dispensation after hearing all relevant persons.
 
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Step 4: Investigation by the Guardian ad Litem
 
Once the Attorney-General is appointed as guardian ad litem, he will direct the Child Welfare Officer from the Ministry of Community Development to investigate "the circumstances of the infant and petitioners and all other matters relevant to the proposed adoption with a view to the safeguarding of the interests of the infant". The welfare officer will then carry out the necessary investigation and make recommendations on the adoption petition. The results of the investigation will be set out in an affidavit sworn by the investigating welfare officer. The officer will also state in his affidavit whether he supports the proposed adoption of the infant by the petitioners.
 
Upon receipt of the affidavit from the Attorney-General, the petitioners are required to file the original affidavit, together with 2 copies of the Notice of Hearing of Petition into Court. The Family Registry will then fix a date for the further hearing of the Petition.

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Step 5: Final Hearing of Adoption Petition
On the further hearing of the Petition, if the court is satisfied that all the requirements of the Act are complied with, it will make an adoption order in favour of the petitioners. If the requirements are not met, the court may adjourn the hearing of the petition and direct the guardian ad litem to investigate further; make an interim order, or dismiss the petition entirely.
 
After the adoption order is made, the petitioners' solicitors are required to submit 3 copies of the adoption order and 1 copy of the draft adoption order approved by the Attorney-General. The Family Registry will check the documents and if all are in order, issue the engrossed adoption order to the petitioners' solicitors. Another copy of the adoption order and attached schedule will be sent to the Registrar of Births to register the adoption of the infant by the Petitioners.

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Other Applications Related to Adoption Proceedings

(i) Summons-in-Chambers (SIC)

An SIC is an application that is heard in chambers (i.e., it is a private hearing unlike a trial, which is heard in open court), by either a District Judge or a Deputy Registrar. Parties and their witnesses need not testify in court when SICs are heard as such applications are heard based on affidavits (i.e. a document that sets out the evidence of the parties and that is sworn or affirmed before a Commissioner for Oaths).
 
SICs can be filed for a range of matters that are related to a suit and can be filed at any point in time during the proceedings or after orders have been made by the court.
 
Common SICs filed in adoption proceedings include applications for:
  1. dispensation of service;
  2. dispensation of consent;
  3. amendment: an application to correct a court document
  4. extension of time : an application to be given more time to take a step that is required under the Rules.
(ii) Appeals

If either party is dissatisfied with a court order, he may file an appeal against the order. In the appeal papers (known as the Notice of Appeal), he must state the date of the order and the name of the District Judge or Deputy Registrar who had made the order, as well as specify which part of the order he is appealing against. The appeal papers must be filed at the Appeal Section at the Civil Court Registry. You should seek legal advice if you need assistance in drafting the appeal papers.
 
(iii) Praecipes

A praecipe is a request to the court. Praecipes are commonly filed when a person wishes to search the court's records, to inspect the court's file or to extract a certified true copy of a court document . Praecipes have to be stamped and filed in court. It should be noted that adoption proceedings are confidential and the court will normally not allow an inspection of the court's file unless good and sufficient reasons can be shown.