Forum: Families under strain need more support

It is heartening to note the strong public and government support to encourage marriage and parenthood in Singapore (Even more needs to be done to encourage having babies, Nov 11; Rethink the way we tackle low birth rates - concept of family is under threat, Nov 19; and Societal support critical to raising birth rate, Nov 30).

This affirms the results of recent marriage and parenthood surveys, in which the majority of young Singaporeans indicated a desire to get married and have children.

While significant progress has been made in enhancing financial and other forms of tangible support for young families in recent years, one area which remains of concern is how the family justice system is supporting families who may be under strain.

Members of the public have raised concerns about the lack of avenues for marital recovery and reconciliation in Singapore's family justice framework (System that focuses on marriage recovery, counselling needed, June 20; Family justice framework can be enhanced, May 27; 'First responders' in divorce should be counsellors, not lawyers, Oct 13, 2018).

They have also asked serious questions about family court processes and unethical behaviours by divorce lawyers (Tackle practice of denying kids access to other parent in divorce cases, March 19, 2018; Shared care and control statistics don't gel with court's position, Sept 7, 2018).

Last year, there were more than 7,000 divorces and annulments.

It has been reported that about 5,000 children were involved in divorce cases each year from 2005 to 2014.

More than one in four marriages today end in divorce.

With such high marriage dissolution rates and their attendant ramifications, how can we as a society build a positive mindset towards the family?

There needs to be a closer examination of how our family justice framework must be enhanced to contribute towards building a Singapore that is truly made for families.

Ivan Teo

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