A pre-divorce parenting programme- the mandatory parenting programme (MPP)– will be introduced at the end of 2016.
The change will affect couples who:
- Have at least one child younger than the age of 14; and
- Disagree on any divorce matter (including issues involving ground of divorce, custody, maintenance and asset).
The scheme will eventually cover couples who have at least one child younger than the age of 21.
As such, if you intend to commence divorce proceedings in 2017 or after and fulfil the above criteria, you may need to sign up for the programme prior to filing for divorce. You need to attend a 2-hour session with a counsellor as part of the programme.
Presently, married couples who have at least 1 child under the age of 21 and agree on all divorce matters (uncontested divorce) will attend a 2-hour programme at the Child Focused Resolution Centre (CFRC) on issues like co-parenting.
Further, in an acrimonious divorce, a Judge of the Family Justice Courts may order for a counsellor to be present and supervise when the child meets the access parent or when the child is handed over to the access parent.
I will be writing more on the mandatory parenting programme (MPP) and other changes to the Women’s Charter in the coming months.
For cases in 2014, half of the couples have at least 1 child under the age of 21.
By the 10th year of marriage (for those who married in 2003), 16.1% have filed for divorce/ annulment.
A study in 2000 shows 54% of male juvenile offenders had divorced parents.
For couples who go for mediation and counselling after they filed for divorce, 80% could agree on parenting plans.
Views on Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP)
According to Mdm Rahayu Mahzam, MP for Jurong GRC, it is “important to put [parties] in the right state of mind before they begin divorce proceedings.”
Counsellor Larry Lai said that having the parenting session pre-divorce helps parents to understand the needs of their children as early as possible.
Other lawyers interviewed felt that the Mandatory Parenting Programme:
- Compels parents to consider the effects on children
- Helps parents become more aware of issues concerning singlehood and single parenthood
- Helps couples resolve parenting and divorce issues amicably
MP Louis Ng felt that the divorce could be delayed by the Mandatory Parenting Programme and this could be detrimental to abused spouses.
See: Priscilla Goy, “When marriages end: Protecting children caught in divorce”, The Straits Times, 6 March 2016
The Mandatory Parenting Programme will commence soon. It is early days and only time will tell of its benefits. I am all for any initiative that will help and assist my clients and their children.
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