Hey Solo Sister | Legal
portfolio_page-template-default,single,single-portfolio_page,postid-2262,eltd-core-1.0.3,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,borderland-ver-1.8, vertical_menu_with_scroll,smooth_scroll,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.11.1,vc_responsive


Source: Pixabay

Like any other mother, there are certain legal issues pertaining to your child that you should take note of. Read below for some common legal matters that unwed mothers face, as compiled by us after having spoken to family lawyers and experts (unnamed to protect their privacy).



  • When in doubt, it is best that you consult a lawyer as circumstances may vary and your situation might be different from that of someone else’s.
  • Information correct as of 11 October 2016.
  • Parliament sitting (10 Oct 2016) on topic of “Recognising Children of Unwed Mothers as Legitimate Children” can be found here.
Birth Registration

There isn’t a hard and fast rule on whether you should add your child’s father’s name in his birth certificate (BC). However, after speaking to our Solo Sisters and looking through mummy forums, we found out that some unwed mothers advise against doing so especially if you are on bad terms with your child’s father. If his name is in your child’s BC, it is highly likely that you will need his consent in administrative matters regarding your child (e.g. Primary 1 registration, passport application). Regardless, whether or not the your child’s father’s name is stated in the BC, the law may still place certain duties or responsibilities (like child maintenance) on him.


If you can’t decide if you should include the father’s name in the BC, you can contact DaySpring New Life Centre, a centre for unsupported pregnancies.


To find out more on registering your child’s birth, read this.

Child Custody
Source: Pixabay


Can you claim child maintenance from your child’s father?



Section 68 of the Women’s Charter (Cap. 353) governs the duty of parents to maintain children. The duty applies whether or not the children are legitimate:


Duty of parents to maintain children

68.  Except where an agreement or order of court otherwise provides, it shall be the duty of a parent to maintain or contribute to the maintenance of his or her children, whether they are in his or her custody or the custody of any other person, and whether they are legitimate or illegitimate, either by providing them with such accommodation, clothing, food and education as may be reasonable having regard to his or her means and station in life or by paying the cost thereof.

If the father’s name is in the birth certificate, it has evidentiary value and will help to prove that the man is the father of the child. However, this can still be disputed. Conversely, even if the father’s name is not on the birth certificate, you would still be able to claim maintenance if you can prove that the man is the father (e.g. by DNA tests).


For more information on child maintenance and how to apply for it, read this.



What rights does the biological father have?


Under the Guardianship of Infants Act (Cap. 122), both biological parents have equal rights to guardianship, with the welfare of the child as the main consideration. One parent does not have greater rights over the other parent. Apart from welfare factors like which parent is a better carer (in terms of spending time with the child and having the financial capacity), the court also places importance on the stability of your child. If your child has been staying with you all along, and has not been in contact with his biological father for many years, it is likely that custody will be given to you, presuming he has been well taken care of by you.


In matrimonial law, the relationship between parents and children is seen in terms of custody, care and control, and access:


  • Custody: Responsibility over the upbringing and education of the child, i.e. decision-making power over important aspects of the child’s life
  • Care and control: Authority and responsibility over the day-to-day matters of the child, child resides with this parent
  • Access: Regular hours of contact with the child, e.g. one day during the weekend, or partial weekday too, overnight access



Other points to note:


  • Courts generally recognise and promote joint parenting so that both parents can continue to have a direct involvement in the child’s life.
  • Maintenance is a duty- so if you have proven to be poor carer, custody may be transferred to your child’s father if he is more equipped to take care of the child.
  • If your child’s father wants to be involved in the life of your child, he can apply for joint custody and access rights under the Guardianship of Infants Act.
  • Read more here to get a clearer idea on maintenance and custody.
What is legitimacy?


A child is legitimate if he/she was born during the existence of a valid marriage of both of his/her biological parents.  Adopted children are also legitimate.

Why does the government not recognise children of unwed mothers to be legitimate?


Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin:


“The family is the basic building block of our society. Strong marriages are the key to strong families, and parenthood within marriage is the desired and prevailing social norm. Hence, benefits such as the Baby Bonus cash gift, housing benefits and tax reliefs are provided to families with legitimate children, to encourage births within marriages.”


The full article can be read here.

What implication does legitimacy (of a child) have?


In the eyes of the law, both legitimate and illegitimate children children have the same status in terms of their parents’ obligations towards providing for them.


However, under the Intestate Succession Act, upon the death of the illegitimate child’s biological parents, their property will not automatically go to him/her. This means that the parent must will his or her property to the child, if not the child’s share will go to the parents’ legitimate children / other beneficiaries under the Intestate Succession Act*. 


Of course, the government will review each case respectively – “[Illegitimate] children can inherit their mother’s estate if their mother dies without a will and has no surviving children.” – Minister Tan Chuan Jin


Illegitimate children are not allowed to claim maintenance from their parents’ estate under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act, even if the parent had been providing for the children throughout his/her lifetime. 

  • *(a) Nothing in this Act shall apply to the estate of any Muslim or shall affect any rules of the Muslim law in respect of the distribution of the estate of any such person. (Section 2)
  • *(b) See Section 7 Rule 3
Legal Services

If you are still having doubts about the legal matters concerning your child, you should consult a legal expert. Whatever it is, remember that you are not alone in this journey and help can be found if you look in the right places. Here are some places you can look at for legal advice.



Should you wish to speak to someone who can link you up with the right legal contact, you can contact DaySpring New Life Centre.