Singapore Budget 2015: Four divorce support specialist agencies appointed

SINGAPORE - Four divorce support specialist agencies have been appointed by the Government, three of which will run mandatory parenting sessions for divorcing parents with young children.

So long as parents fail to agree on all matters of the divorce, they have to attend theses sessions, which will cover issues such as the impact of divorce on children, and the implications on finance and housing, said Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Low Yen Ling. These sessions are slated to start this year.

During the debate on the Budget for the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Friday, she shared new steps being taken to help children through their parent's break up.

"Children are often caught in between their parents when a divorce takes place. It can be a very traumatic experience for the child, especially if the divorce is highly acrimonious and adverserial," she said.

MSF is also working with the four agencies to introduce a new programme targeted at helping children learn how to cope with their parent' conflict.

The agencies - the setting up of which were one of the Committee of Family Justice's key recommendations last year - will offer help ranging for non-legal advice on divorce, counselling, and family dispute management.

The four agencies are: Care Corner Centre for Co-Parenting in Toa Payoh, Centre for Family Harmony on Circuit Road, the HELP Family Service Centre in Ang Mo Kio and the PPIS As-Salaam Family Support Centre - the only divorce support specialist agency catering to Muslim couple.

Meanwhile, couples looking to get hitched can now attend a new lunch-time marriage preparation talk being offered at the Registry of Marriages, which will offer tips on how couples can communicate, said Ms Low.

Launched three months back, the talk has already reached out to 400 participants, 80 per cent of whom found it useful.

And from May this year, couples can also sign up for a marriage preparation programme known as the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Programme, which will be offered by MSF-appointed agencies.

Parents too can look forward to more support.

Last year, MSF piloted two parenting programmes to teach parents to better understand their children. More than 1,100 parents from 20 primary and secondary schools have completed these programmes, and MSF will add another 30 new schools this year before evaluating it next year.

"This will help us refine the programmes before rolling them out nation-wide," said Ms Low.