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Maintenance, renaming Women’s Charter among issues raised at seminar

The second stage of a review of Singapore's family justice system will tackle more specific issues -- which could include those raised by participants at the Family Justice Seminar on Monday.

SINGAPORE: The second stage of a review of Singapore's family justice system will tackle more specific issues -- which could include those raised by participants at the Family Justice Seminar on Monday.

Some of the issues raised are enforcement of maintenance orders, making maintenance more gender neutral, and proposals to rename the Women's Charter.

Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Law and Education and co-chair of the Committee for Family Justice, said: "Today, you heard various suggestions on maybe it (Women’s Charter) should be called Family Charter and other things like maintenance -- 'should it be more gender neutral?'

“These are current topics, and I think we should certainly look at them. What recommendations we come up with at the end of the day remains to be seen.

“But things should not just be a name change. If you do something, you must do it for a reason, and you must also carefully assess what kind of impact it should have.”

The first set of interim recommendations by the Committee for Family Justice is currently up for public consultation.

The recommendations look at making divorce proceedings more efficient and less adversarial, and putting children's interests at the fore.

Those include introducing pre-writ consultation sessions, appointing child representatives in certain court proceedings, and setting up the new Family Justice Courts.

The public consultation began on May 7 and will close on June 7.

The inter-agency committee was set up in 2013 and was tasked to study and recommend possible reforms to the family justice system to better serve the needs of families in distress.

"This is not about making divorces easier. What it is about is recognising that not all marriages can be saved, and helping such families move on with as little emotional trauma and scarring as possible,” said Ms Indranee.

She added that while it would be good to implement the recommendations as soon as possible, it is a process that could ultimately take a few years. 

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