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Family Justice Court to focus more on kids’ welfare, mediation processes

TODAY reports: Singapore to develop international framework to address cross-border family disputes.

SINGAPORE: The Family Justice Court, as a specialist court that administers justice in family dispute cases, has to ensure that those who have to go through the legal processes will be “as free of trauma as possible”, with particular attention being paid to children, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said at the opening of the new legal year on Monday (Jan 11).

New pressures on the family, an ageing population and the increasing number of transnational marriages and family relocations will also mean that the courts must “keep pace with these new complexities”, he added.

Since the Family Justice Court launched in October 2014, it has been working towards a softer approach in resolving disputes.

For all contentious child cases now, counselling and mediation is required, with a pilot programme that includes a therapeutic interview with affected children, he said.

“We found that this helped parents appreciate the consequences of their actions on their children, with encouraging results,” the Chief Justice said. Results from the pilot showed that 75 per cent of the cases were resolved with an agreement on child issues.

A new child representatives scheme, with the support of 24 trained and accredited family lawyers, also helps to look after the interests and welfare of affected children in divorce proceedings, where before, there was none.


To enhance the mediation process, there was a collaboration with the Singapore Mediation Centre and the Singapore International Mediation Institute to develop a national framework for family mediation accreditation, and 51 mediators have already been accredited.

In the coming year, the Family Justice Court will look into developing an international family mediation framework to address cross-border family legal issues that are surfacing increasingly.

“Family justice poses many challenges and I believe we can learn much from the experiences of other jurisdictions,” the Chief Justice said.

“I have therefore decided to establish an International Advisory Council which will bring together a group of internationally renowned and respected family judges, as well as academics and experts in family law and social science.”

The council, which will call its first meeting later this year, will discuss, among other things, the latest ideas in family law and practice, and study international best practices and measures in dispensing family justice.

In October last year, the Chief Justice noted that more people have been seeking court intervention for family disputes, and this trend is expected to continue. From its official opening in October 2014 to August 2015, the Family Justice Court — comprising the High Court’s Family Division, the Family Court and Youth Court — saw a reported 24,623 family-related cases, such as divorce, family violence and probate cases.

Read the original TODAY report here.