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New online portal to provide early support to couples considering divorce

NEW ONLINE PORTAL TO PROVIDE EARLY SUPPORT TO COUPLES CONSIDERING DIVORCE


1.     The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is developing an online portal so that couples considering divorce can get better information and insight into the impact of their decision. This is in response to recommendations from the Committee to Review and Enhance Reforms in the Family Justice System (RERF Committee)[1]. The first phase of the portal is expected to be ready in the later part of 2021.

 

2.      MSF continues to work closely with community partners to help couples build strong marriage foundations, including marriage preparation programmes. We want to provide support to couples early on, should they face challenges in their marriage and need help to resolve their differences. We recognise, however, that for some couples, their marriage may seemingly have broken down irretrievably and they wish to consider divorce as an option. For these parties, we will provide stronger and more upstream support so that they are able to make informed decisions related to divorce.

 

Pre-divorce support portal

3.            The new portal will support couples who are contemplating divorce, particularly those with young children. It will provide information and services for such couples, such as an enhanced Mandatory Parenting Programme, online counselling and relevant information that parents need to consider in the best interest of their children.

 

Consolidated information and resources on divorce


 4.            The portal will consolidate the information and resources required by these couples, such as those related to Housing Development Board (HDB) flats and Central Provident Fund (CPF) matters. This reduces the need for them to approach separate agencies for information. 

Enhanced Mandatory Parenting Programme[2]

5. The portal will also include an enhanced Mandatory Parenting Programme. Under this programme, parties will complete an e-learning module and can use selfassessment tools to better understand their marital situation and their children’s needs.  This information will also be used during personalised discussions with counsellors from the MSF-appointed Divorce Support Specialist Agencies, so that more tailored advice and support can be given. 

Online counselling 
 

6. We recognise that individuals facing marital, pre-divorce or divorce issues may be hesitant to approach a counsellor directly. To provide more holistic support to these individuals, we will introduce an online counselling support service to make help more accessible to them early.  
 
7. To help us better understand the needs of such couples and to build capability, MSF is working with the Community Psychology Hub to implement a two-year pilot later this year, where online counselling support will be provided via instant chat or email. The pilot expects to reach an estimated 200 clients a year for a start, and the online counselling service is expected to be included in subsequent phases of the portal development. 

[1] The RERF Committee submitted their report and recommendations on how to further enhance the family justice system to better protect and support families in September 2019 to MSF and the Ministry of Law. Subsequently, the ministries held a public consultation on the recommendations to gather public feedback on the recommendations. In February 2020, the ministries announced that they will accept all recommendations, and consider public feedback in its implementation. 

[2] It is compulsory for all parents, with children below 21 years old, to attend the Mandatory Parenting Programme , a consultation session with a counsellor from one of the MSF-appointed Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) . This programme is designed to encourage divorcing parents to make informed decisions that prioritise the well-being of children, even as they go through the emotional challenges in a divorce. 

ANNEX A: Frequently asked questions

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