Better to focus on reconciliation, healing in family courts

The average time taken for divorce cases to be granted interim judgment dropped from 67 days in 2012 to 53 days last year, Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said in Parliament last week.

It also took a shorter time for divorce cases to be resolved - 155 days in 2012 to 115 days last year.

While this appears to be an improvement in the efficiency of the Family Justice Courts, it also raises questions on whether such an efficiency is wise when dealing with complicated and often emotional family matters such as divorce.

The number of divorces in Singapore has risen over the years. Last year, 7,614 marriages ended in a divorce or an annulment, up by 1.2 per cent from 2015 (Marriages in Singapore see slight dip, while divorces edge up; ST Online, July 18).

What is more worrying is that the rates of marriage dissolution among recent marriage cohorts have risen compared with those in the past, based on research done by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (Recent marriages not standing the test of time; April 7, 2015).

This is a looming crisis for Singapore.

Strong families are the bedrock of strong societies, and divorces can have serious inter-generational consequences.

While marriages have their ups and downs and families go through difficult times, it is important for the Family Justice system and Singapore's legislative framework to adopt an attitude and approach that encourage reconciliation and healing, rather than expeditiously granting divorce.

Fabian Ng Yuan Sheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2017, with the headline 'Better to focus on reconciliation, healing in family courts'. Subscribe