MSF seeks feedback on no-fault divorce option that allows couples to split amicably

This, and other suggestions, aim to make divorce proceedings less painful for those involved.

Alfie Kwa | May 03, 2021, 06:28 PM

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is seeking public feedback on suggestions to make divorce proceedings less acrimonious.

The ministry said that it has been engaging social service practitioners from Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (organisations which provide specialised services, like counselling and case management, for divorcing and divorced families) to understand what can be done to reduce acrimony and encourage families to move on.

Making divorce less acrimonious, more amicable

Current divorce proceedings require the couple to show that they have been separated for at least three years, or prove that one of the parties has a fault (such as desertion or adultery).

One party has to file as the Plaintiff while the other party files as the Defendant.

Minister of State in the Ministry for Social and Family Development, Sun Xue Ling, said that some participants shared their experiences during their divorce proceedings, noting that it could have been less acrimonious and taken a shorter time.

They added that the process made them put theirs and their kids' lives on hold as they had to relive the pain by providing details about how the marriage broke down, making it difficult for them to move on and return to normalcy.

They also highlighted how current divorce proceedings set individuals up as opponents in a fight, making the divorce process bitter.

Sun shared that DSSAs have seen many couples filing for divorce fighting over who should be plaintiff and defendant.

Suggestions thrown up during the engagement sessions included offering an "amicable divorce" option which allows both parties to jointly file for divorce.

Another suggestion: Couples who mutually consent to the divorce via this option and agree that their marriage has irretrievably broken down don't have to cite any of the five factors which is the current basis for divorce.

Other issues that divorcees face during their journey

Sun shared on Facebook a few issues which divorcees highlighted during the engagement sessions.

Firstly, it was pointed out that there will be challenges faced throughout a marriage. As such, they expressed strong support for marriage support and preparation to better equip couples to deal with marital problems that may arise.

Participants also felt that it is necessary to look out for the children’s well-being during and after divorce.

In addition, post-divorce support was highlighted as participants said that it can help couples move on from the decision to divorce.

Lastly, it was noted that there is a stigma associated with divorce in society. As such, participants hoped that the community will be more sympathetic to their situation.

Sun added:

"No couple enters marriage thinking of divorce as an outcome, but sometimes, couples may decide that is what they need to do."

If you would like to provide your feedback regarding the suggestions highlighted during the engagement sessions, you can send your views with your name to [email protected] by June 3, 2021.

Top image via Getty images.