New service for divorcing couples to settle matters amicably

Divorcing couples can now avoid a bruising court battle to settle their post-divorce issues like maintenance and division of assets. On Wednesday, a new out-of-court service called the Collaborative Family Practice was launched by the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC).

This service will see specially trained lawyers assigned to help these couples resolve issues such as who gets the assets and how much maintenance should be paid. They will pay a discounted $300 an hour for an assigned lawyer.

Their lawyers will help to keep things amicable by, for instance, helping their client withdraw from the negotiation table when they are too emotional, and counselling them if they start to negotiate in bad faith. Couples can also get advice from specialists like financial advisor and child specialists. However, if a settlement is not reached and the dispute ends up in court, these same lawyers are not allowed to represent them.

Speaking at launch on Wednesday evening, Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye said that families required whatever assistance necessary to help them properly manage the "painful transitions" that follow a divorce. He added that the courts should be the "last option" especially in family disputes.