Law must support shared parenting after divorce

The experience of several of my friends who have undergone divorce over the past few years differs sharply from the essence of the reply by the Family Justice Courts (FJC) (Care and control orders in divorce cases carefully decided; July 19).

The FJC explained that the law urges both parents to be actively involved in the child's life after a divorce, and joint custody orders allow both parents to make major decisions for the child.

In reality, where contact with the child is minimal, or often even restricted by the other parent, the joint custody order becomes impractical and meaningless over time, and one parent is removed from the child's life.

A key consideration in granting shared-care arrangements, the FJC said, is whether the parents are able to carry out a two-home arrangement with close cooperation. But, this can cause parents to behave unreasonably to project acrimony so as to make shared care impossible (Divorcing parents' willingness should be key factor in granting shared care, by Mrs Wong Mun Fai; March 30).

The Family Court also stated that 93 per cent of concluded cases with children issues were resolved during mediation last year.

I know of several friends, mostly fathers, who were "forced" to sign consent agreements which relinquished care and control and severely restricted their time with their children - a decision which they deeply regret.

The need of a child to spend sufficient quality time with and receive the guidance of both parents must be respected by law, in both letter and in spirit.

That only 4 per cent of all divorce care and control orders in 2016 were shared care and control is a disgrace (Call to ease housing rule for divorcees sharing care of kids; July 12).

The onus is on the Family Court to be rigorous in making and enforcing such orders.

Minor inconveniences and concerns of parental conflict, such as those expressed by Ms Catherine Ang (Shared care and control may not be in kids' best interests; July 19), can be resolved with the assistance of supporting agencies.

An increasing number of jurisdictions are making shared parenting rights after divorce legally binding, which reflects the clear and consistent research about its benefits for children.

Let us pull together and be resolute in making sure children in Singapore have the best chance of succeeding in life, even those affected by their parents' divorce.

Ian Chan Eng Kiat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2018, with the headline 'Law must support shared parenting after divorce'. Print Edition | Subscribe