Forum: System that focuses on marriage recovery, counselling needed

I fully support Mr Ian Chan Eng Kiat's call to move away from using the legal system to resolve family conflicts, and strengthen social support for distressed marriages (Family justice framework can be enhanced, May 27).

To do so, we need a family social support system and organisations that prioritise marriage recovery and counselling.

We need to incentivise our social service agencies to strengthen marriage support and recovery programmes to tackle the unhealthy level of divorce in Singapore.

Understandably, family conflict can be a very delicate and emotional issue. But by adopting the right tack and dedicating the needed resources, I believe we can reduce the number of divorces and promote stronger families in Singapore.

For example, the Government could offer a success fee of, say $7,000, to family life professionals who are successful in their efforts to keep a marriage intact. This could be disbursed in tranches and tied to certain performance indicators - for example, if a couple make progress in improving their relationship and choose not to proceed with their original divorce application three, six and 12 months after they first embarked on the programme.

Every divorce is one too many, and the long-term implications on the family and on society are immense, especially if children are involved.

It is in Singapore's interest to take a long-term view on this issue, and start creating a "marriage trampoline" to help couples and families in Singapore bounce back from relationship setbacks and become more resilient.

Patricia Tan