Things are about to get better for divorced parents in Singapore who have been denied access to their children. The Family Justice Courts has started working on a project that will help such individuals and this project will be realized later this year.
This project includes training of 24 divorce lawyers about how to identify the reasons for conflicts in a marriage and use subtle methods to help deescalate the situation, in order to help parents decide on a mutually beneficial parental plan. This new plan can be attributed to the growing rate of divorce in Singapore. As of 2015, one out of four marriages is annulled through divorce.
Most of the divorces are uncontested but some take the bitter path especially where children are part of the question. A divorcee named Mr. Lee reported that he had not spent time with his daughter for two years straight. He added that he is only allowed to see his child once a week. This of course is stressful for many parents who long to see their children.
This plan has been designed in hopes that the parenting coordinators can get involved and help make the access arrangements better. The aim is to get the Court to assign a coordinator for cases they deem need such a moderator. These trained lawyers will also consult other people part of the childrens’ lives like their teachers or grandparents in order to learn what role they will play in the parenting of the child.
Ms James, a lawyer of this program said, “As a co-parent, your child is very important, and you should be focusing on your child’s issues, and you should work together hand in hand, so that the relationship between parent and child would be very strong.”
The training includes interactive activities, quizzes and lessons that help the divorce lawyers get the basic understanding of roles and responsibilities in this matter. They get to learn about the ethical challenges of such a conflict and what factors to use in their efforts to come up with the best solution.
The second phase of this project will involve the training of mental health professionals and social scientists to serve as parenting coordinators.
Question about Costs
One of the major concerns in creating this project is the legal fee. The costs of divorce in Singapore are already very high. And if this project needs to succeed, the costs should be kept to a minimum. A member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, Ms Rahayu Mahzam, said, “Legal cost is already a significant factor, so if there are costs imposed in relation to parenting coordinators, this definitely will be an additional concern. An aspect to look at is really about balancing the appropriate remuneration for the services of the parenting coordinator because I suspect the role can be quite challenging and extensive.”
There is only so much this project can achieve; the real job is at the parents’ end. It is ultimately their decision and they need to realize that their acrimonious behavior will have negative effects on their children. Therefore, they need to adopt a way that ensures their child’s best upbringing.