Welfare of children always a top priority in divorce cases: Forum

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 17 Oct 2019

We assure Mr Chan that lawyers have a responsibility to charge fairly for the work done, or risk disciplinary action.

We thank Mr Ian Chan Eng Kiat, Ms Heather Lim and Madam Lily Ong for their letters on enhancing the Family Justice System (Panel’s recommendations for family law reforms not enough; Collect, and make public, data to track how effective measures to fight divorce are, both Oct 1; More can be done to speed up settlement of divorce cases, Oct 5).

The practice of family law moved away from the traditional adversarial system in 2014, when the “judge-led” approach was introduced. With the change, judges have the powers to take greater control over court proceedings to resolve disputes efficiently and minimise acrimony.

The system also places any child’s interests as a paramount consideration. The recent report by the Committee to Review and Enhance Reforms in the Family Justice System has made further recommendations to strengthen this approach.

We assure Mr Chan that lawyers have a responsibility to charge fairly for the work done, or risk disciplinary action.

In addition, the simplified uncontested divorce track was introduced in 2015 to ensure that divorce proceedings are not unnecessarily drawn out.

This enables parties to agree on all matters relating to the divorce without having to go through a lengthy or hostile court process. Last year, almost 55 per cent of divorce cases filed were resolved this way.

The welfare of children in family proceedings must always be our top priority. Lawyers play a crucial role in advising their clients and mitigating the impact of divorce on a child.

Children’s interests are also safeguarded through directions which judges make, and through programmes delivered by six Divorce Support Specialist Agencies.

These measures support and encourage divorcing couples to co-parent amicably. Ultimately, parents themselves must place their children’s needs ahead of their personal differences.

We will continue to engage our stakeholders in the community to provide better support to our families in Singapore.

Members of the public can share their views with us via Reach (go.gov.sg/rerf) until Nov 1.

Tan Wei Long

Director, Family Policy Office

Family Development Group

Ministry of Social and Family Development

Andrea Goh

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Law

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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