Court's focus has been and should be the child

Ms Heather Lim said in her letter that the court's position fails to gel with the statistics, and that at least 50 per cent of the care and control orders in divorce cases might be shared if there was no legal bias (Shared care and control statistics don't gel with court's position; Sept 7).

To say so is to arbitrarily formulate that 50-50 is best and fair in shared care and control cases.

But best for whom? That is the important question we need to ask.

Care and control orders are not about achieving fairness for parents. The focus of the court has been and should continue to be the child.

Ms Lim further opines that the acrimony in a divorce can often be a result of the adversarial nature of family law practice.

Let's be clear: Acrimony between divorcing spouses is what brought them to the decision of divorce in the first place - before the attorneys entered the picture - and should not be rashly attributed to our legal counsel.

In fact, Singapore has one of the most collaborative legal systems in the world.

For divorce cases in the Family Court, not only is mediation mandatory, but it also comes complimentary along with counselling. Many lawyers in Singapore are not only pro-mediation, but are also well trained in the area.

The court looks at the history of care, among other things, before determining to whom care and control should be accorded.

If it so happens that mothers have largely been the ones to stick around and care for the child, then the court is right in according care and control to the mothers, rather than succumbing to a 50-50 split for the sake of looking politically correct.

Lily Ong (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2018, with the headline 'Court's focus has been and should be the child'. Print Edition | Subscribe