20 January 2018
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Counselling programme extended to divorcing couples with children up to age 21

10 Jan 2018
Wong Pei Ting

A counselling programme aimed at reducing the impact of acrimonious divorces on children will be extended to cover couples splitting before their children reach age 21, up from age 14 now.

Couples who file for divorce from Jan 21 must attend the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP), a two-hour session where they will learn how to prioritise their children’s needs over their own, how to amicably allow each parent access to children thereafter, among other things.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced the extension on Tuesday (Jan 9), just over a year after the first phase of the programme was implemented in December 2016, in line with changes made to the Women’s Charter stipulating the requirement.

So far, about 2,500 fathers and mothers who split have gone through the session and given “positive feedback on its beneficial outcomes”, with more than 95 per cent of them saying they were made more aware of the impact of their divorce on their children, the ministry said.

About 300 more individuals annually are estimated to need to undergo the programme, with the extension, MSF added.

The MPP covers four main areas: The impact of divorce on children; the practical considerations on financial budget, housing options, and living arrangements; how children respond to their parents’ divorce, and what co-parenting is about and its benefits.

Three Divorce Support Specialist Agencies conduct the MPP. They are HELP Family Service Centre, Care Corner Centre for Co-Parenting, and Thye Hua Kwan Centre for Family Harmony @ Commonwealth.