SINGAPORE: The Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) will be extended to include divorcing parents with children below 21 years old, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced on Tuesday (Jan 9). The extension of the law will apply to all couples who file for divorce on or after Jan 21, MSF said in a news release.
The MPP is a two-hour session by counsellors from three agencies: HELP FSC, Care Corner Centre for Co-Parenting and Thye Hua Kwan Centre for Family Harmony @ Commonwealth.
Currently, all divorcing parents with children below 14 years old are required to attend the programme if they do not have a signed formal agreement pertaining to a parenting plan and all other divorce matters.
MSF said the aim of the MPP is to help parents understand the importance of co-parenting and the practical issues arising from a divorce, which would have an impact on their children. They will learn how to prioritise their children’s needs, make informed decisions about the divorce and ancillary matters, and make greater efforts to reduce the level of acrimony between them, the ministry added.
The MPP was introduced when the Women's Charter was amended in 2016. One of the changes was to require divorcing parents with children below 21 years old to attend the MPP before they file for a divorce, unless the parties were able to agree on the divorce and all ancillary matters.
The first phase of the MPP - which applied to divorcing parents with children below 14 years old - was implemented on Dec 1, 2016.
Since its launch, about 2,500 applicants have completed the MPP, according to MSF. The extension of the programme to divorcing couples with older children is expected to add at least 300 more participants in the programme annually, MSF said.
The ministry also said that parents who completed the programme during the first phase have provided positive feedback.
More than 95 per cent reported that they were more aware of the impact of divorce on their children in terms of financial, housing and practical needs post-separation. The same percentage of participants also agreed on the need to prioritise their children’s interest over their own, the ministry added.
"In all, MSF intends for child centricity to be the key focus in divorce by enhancing the MPP content with relevant information to meet the co-parenting needs of parents with older children," the ministry said.
Parents who are required to attend the MPP and do not do so will not be able to file for divorce or make any counterclaim for a divorce.