Shared care provides protective buffer for children

The Sunday Times report and yet another case of serious sexual abuse of a child of divorce highlight the severe predicament that children affected by divorce face in Singapore (When home is where the sex abuse is, for kids; Aug 26, and 12½ years' jail and 15 strokes for man who sexually abused girlfriend's 8-year-old daughter, Aug 20).

In the more recent case, it was appalling to learn that the biological mother of the child, having learnt about the abuses, did not take action to remove her daughter from the perpetrator. She even wrote a letter to the court pleading for leniency for her boyfriend - who is married to another woman.

The deep physical and emotional vulnerabilities faced by children caught up in their parents' divorce cannot be ignored, and recent discussions about the benefits of shared care and control orders must be taken seriously.

While divorced parents have the wherewithal to pursue their interests and desires after a divorce, children are defenceless and continue to have to rely on adults for their physical, emotional and financial needs.

An order for sole care and control, where one biological parent takes on the role as the caregiver and the other becomes a visitor with only once or twice a week access, does no justice to the thousands of children affected by divorce every year in Singapore.

Neither does it set the right tone for both parents to focus on the needs of the child.

Children need and want strong relationships with both father and mother.

For children affected by divorce, maintaining a close relationship with both biological parents provides a protective buffer and an alternative vent in tackling the vagaries of life.

Government policies and court decisions must support maximum time with each parent so as to allow quality relationships to develop.

Unlike many other countries, Singapore's small geographical size gives it a unique advantage to implement shared-care arrangements.

I agree with the calls for the Family Court to consider shared care and control as the norm for divorce cases, and for the Government to implement policies which support effective shared parenting after divorce.

Daniel Lim