Mandatory programme for divorcing couples with older kids

From Jan 21, those with children below age 21 must attend session with counsellors

Divorcing couples with children below age 21 will have to attend a Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) from Jan 21, to help them understand the practical issues arising from a divorce that impact their children.

The programme, which will be a two-hour one-time session with counsellors, is meant for divorcing parents unable to agree on divorce and ancillary matters.

The MPP helps divorcing parents understand the importance of co-parenting and the practical issues arising from a split, which would have an impact on their children, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development in a statement yesterday.

It will be applicable to all parties who wish to file for divorce on or after Jan 21. Only parents who are medically certified as having mental incapacity are excluded.

The first phase of the programme was rolled out on Dec 1, 2016, and involved divorcing parents with younger children, below 14 years of age. Since its launch, about 2,500 people have completed the programme.

Senior social worker Lim Sock Hwee welcomes the extension, saying the new session will offer information and advice for parents of older children too.

"With the inclusion of ages 14 to 21, it can better help the parents understand the needs of older children," said Ms Lim, who is at one of the counselling locations.

NEEDS OF OLDER CHILDREN

With the inclusion of ages 14 to 21, it can better help the parents understand the needs of older children.

MS LIM SOCK HWEE, senior social worker.

"Older children tend to process thoughts independently and, hence, they will also have more questions over the divorce. When parents cannot support them at such critical times, they may feel abandoned, sad or angry."

At least 300 more MPP participants are expected annually following the extension.

The programme will run at three locations: Care Corner Centre for Co-Parenting in Eunos Crescent, Thye Hua Kwan Centre for Family Harmony @ Commonwealth and Ang Mo Kio's HELP Family Service Centre. Parents intending to divorce can apply for the programme through the MPP application portal at www.msf.gov.sg/MandatoryParentingProgramme

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2018, with the headline 'Mandatory programme for divorcing couples with older kids'. Print Edition | Subscribe