When a couple finally gives up on the marriage after countless arguments or unresolved matters they often forget that the one who hurts the most is their children. This is why the Singapore Courts have stepped in to protect the welfare of children.
How the Singapore Courts intervene
The Singapore Courts understand that judgement and sensible interaction are clouded by emotions when family disputes occur. Tension wedges dividers between everyone in the household. Sometimes fighting couples just want to pull the plug, so they call in a lawyer and go to Court to settle the division legally. But they forget that the negative emotions don’t stop running after the divorce is finalised. The high stress does affect not only the former husband and wife but also the child—mostly the child.
The Singapore Courts proactively seek to resolve familial disputes, but it knows it cannot mend relationships, which is why sometimes the Court refers the couple and their lawyers to counselling and mediation.
Counselling & Mediation in Singapore
The Court refers the couple to such services to 1. Help the Court come up with a balanced allotment to both sides regarding child custody and division of marital assets, and 2. Ensure that the child maintains a secure relationship with both parents. It may be in your best interest to have a lawyer with you for advice on various matters, such as whether the proposal by your spouse is fair and reasonable.
What is the primary concern of the Courts?
A child’s well being is of paramount interest to the Family Justice Courts. Divorcing parents, who have at least one child under 21 years old are required by the Family Justice Act to undergo mandatory counselling and mediation at the Child Focused Resolution Centre (CFRC) or any other mediation engine as part of the divorce proceedings.
In fulfilling its interests of keeping the child(ren) safe, the Court wants parents to identify and promote their children’s best interests. The goal is to build a reasonable and sustainable parenting agreement that allows the child(ren) to have a meaningful relationship with both parents; and effect positive co-parenting that is sensitive to the unique needs of their children. The services of counselling and mediation for cases involving children are located at Family Justice Courts, 5 Maxwell Road, #04-00, Tower Block MND Complex, Singapore 069110.
What are Counselling and Mediation?
Many divorce cases involve a child or children under 21 years old. In such situations, it is mandatory for the family to undergo counselling and mediation. The sessions are to help parties organise parenting duties and custody agreements, understand one another and find a way past their differences.
Counselling in Singapore
In counselling sessions, court mental health professionals try to gain insight into the family’s relationship and repair hurt feelings and to gear the family toward resolving Court issues amicably. In the aftermath of a divorce, it is important that both parents understand the developmental needs of their child and the co-parenting role that they will continue to have in their child’s life. Members of the extended family can also participate in the counselling process to offer emotional support.
Mediation in Singapore
The Court may also require parents to undergo a similar process of mediation. During mediation, both parties can choose to talk about non-Court related issues and focus more on their relationship in front of a neutral third party. The mediators of the Family Justice Courts may be specially appointed judges or volunteer legal professionals. They also aim to build bridges for better communication and focus on the future so that parties may find mutually acceptable and sustainable solutions for their issues.
Is there any advantage to Counselling & Mediation?
The advantages of counselling and mediation include saving time, money and stress; learning better ways to manage conflict; exerting more responsibility for the welfare of the child; and empowering each party to take charge and make independent decisions.
Collaborative Family Practice
Aside from CFRC, Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) is another option divorcing couples can consider. The CFP is undertaken before the start date of any Court proceedings and must be agreed on by both parties. Most disputes will be suitable for CFP, except for those that involve (a) a party who is incapacitated in some way, (b) there is a history of violence or substance abuse, or (c) there are serious concerns about dishonesty.
The goal of the scheme is to address the needs of both parties by playing facilitative roles. They will provide legal advice where necessary and try to help the couple reach an agreement on legal issues. If the parties settle on something, then it will be forwarded to the Family Justice Courts.
On the other hand, if they don’t reach an agreement, the representing lawyers are not allowed to represent their clients anymore. Instead, the parties will have to find another lawyer to represent them in divorce proceedings. In this way, CFP incentivises the couples to reach a resolution through the scheme.
How We Can Help
Our lawyers want to ensure that you and your former spouse do not end up in a stalemate and leave your child in no man’s land. We know divorce is a stressful time in which tensions run high, and both parties want to just terminate the relationship. We would like to represent you to get the matter settled.
Our lawyers at I.R.B. Law LLP are well-versed in family law and will thoroughly explain the legal proceedings of any family mediation stage in your divorce. We are focused on your well being, not your money, and want to resolve your issues expeditiously so you can bounce back on your feet with your child by your side. Your first consultation is always free, so please don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected] or call us at 6589 8913 to schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers.