Divorce is a difficult experience for everyone involved, including your children. Often children are the most affected by their parent’s divorce. This is why the welfare of the children of divorcing parents is important. As a response, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) established divorce assistance programmes like the Mandatory Parenting Programme to help divorcing parents and their children.
Mandatory Parenting Programme
New rules in the Women’s Charter have now established a Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) to better safeguard children affected by their parents’ divorce in order to foster child-centricity in divorce. Couples who cannot agree on the grounds for divorce or child-related concerns will be affected by this new process. Before filing for divorce, every party commencing divorce proceedings (or filing a counterclaim in an existing divorce proceeding) and having at least one child under the age of 21 will be required to attend an obligatory 2-hour private consultation. Counsellors from the Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) of the Ministry of Social and Family Development conduct this consultation.
Thus, the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) is a consultation session aimed to assist divorcing parents in Singapore with children under the age of 21 in understanding the impact of divorce on their children. The MPP is intended to help divorcing parents make more educated divorce decisions that prioritise their children’s interests and well-being.
Divorce Support Specialist Agencies
The Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) were introduced to deliver non-legal assistance to divorcing and divorced parents and their children. DSSA employees have the expertise and commitment to execute a variety of services such as counselling and family dispute resolution. The MPP is a one-time, two-hour consultation session provided by counsellors from Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) authorized by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
Benefits of Mandatory Parenting Programme
The Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) is aimed to provide information to couples who are unable to agree on ancillary matters or even the reason for divorce. The priority of MPP is to educate the parents about the impact of divorce on their child(ren) as well as the wellbeing of the children, according to section 94A of the Women’s Charter, 1961. The session helps the parents understand:
- The financial difficulties of divorce;
- How divorce affects the child’s living arrangements;
- Child custody and access; and
- The significance of co-parenting and developing a parenting plan
The MPP is not intended to discourage you from filing for divorce since the MSF recognises that your decision to divorce is personal. If you are unclear whether having a divorce is the right option for you and your child, you can seek marriage counselling from DSSA specialists, who will conduct a professional evaluation and provide you with appropriate assistance.
Mandatory for whom?
The programme is mandatory, according to Section 94A of the Women’s Charter, for spouses who:
1) Have no written signed agreement on the divorce and other ancillary matters; and
2) Have at least one child under the age of 21.
Before filing for divorce in Singapore, a person must undergo the Mandatory Parenting Programme. Otherwise, one will not be able to file for divorce (if he/she intends to commence one) or file a counterclaim (if their spouse is the one filing for divorce). If a person’s spouse filed for divorce but the person does not plan to make a counterclaim, such person does not need to attend the MPP. If the court mandates it, one may also be required to attend the MPP after divorce proceedings have begun. The court has the authority to order one or both spouses to complete the MPP if it is in the best interests of their child at any point throughout the divorce procedure.
Only parents who do not have the mental capacity, as defined by the Mental Capacity Act, are exempted from attending the MPP. Only those who are not obligated to attend this programme due to mental incapacity will be exempted. During the application, you will be required to present legitimate documentation such as a medical certificate that supports the exclusion. If you want to be exempted from the MPP, select an exclusion option when applying for the MPP and follow the steps on the MPP portal for additional information.
Attending the Mandatory Parenting Programme
Your friends or lawyer (if you have hired one) are not permitted to represent you at the MPP. The DSSAs will make special arrangements for you to attend the MPP if you are currently stationed overseas. The MPP is a one-on-one personal session with the counsellor. This implies you don’t have to inform your spouse that you’re heading to the session or attend it with them. You may, however, contact [email protected] with your request if you feel that attending the MPP with your spouse will be advantageous to the divorce and your children. If you are not obliged to attend the MPP but would want to, contact them through email to schedule a session.
Steps for Application
The steps to apply for the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) are:
1) Check your eligibility and apply for the MPP on the MSF website.
2) When applying for the MPP, you simply need to provide your name and contact information and no further paperwork is necessary.
3) There are also no costs because the MPP is delivered without charge.
4) The MSF will review your application after you submit it.
5) A counsellor will contact you to set up an appointment at one of Singapore’s DSSAs.
Exclusion of Children
The MPP is intended for divorcing parents. As a result, the child is not required to attend the MPP alongside parents. However, because children are sometimes significantly affected by their parent’s divorce, the courts will direct children who may require further help to attend the Children-in-Between programme established by child specialists for children and their parents. If parents believe that their kid requires further assistance, they may contact one of the DSSAs.
Certificate of Completion
Once you’ve completed the MPP, the counsellor who led the session will grant you a “Certificate of Completion.” You can use the certificate to file a petition for divorce, file a counterclaim if your spouse started the divorce proceedings, or continue the divorce proceedings if it has already begun.
Parties to a Muslim divorce are exempted from attending the MPP. However, if you want to initiate a Muslim divorce, you’ll need to go to the Syariah Court’s Marriage Counselling Program (MCP) for counselling.
Withdrawal of Application
A person may withdraw their MPP application only if it has not yet been processed in case such person changes their mind after applying.