Promote private mediation as a first step

Although the statistics relating to the take-up rate for family mediation and the Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) scheme appear to be low, they must be taken in context, in relation to the infancy of these family dispute resolution tools in Singapore ("Low take-up rate for schemes to help divorcing couples"; last Tuesday, and "Mediation services vital as society evolves" by Ms Linda Heng; last Thursday).

Family mediation outside of the Family Justice Courts is less than a decade old. The CFP is only two years old. Further, there is no empirical evidence of the private mediation and CFP cases undertaken by lawyers and mediators.

Singapore is the second place in Asia, after Hong Kong, where CFP is being used to achieve amicable divorce resolution.

We have achieved more significant progress than Hong Kong. This is due to the introduction of CFP through our forward-thinking judiciary, and its support and interest in driving it forward through continual training and by setting up a fast-track divorce hearing system for successful cases in the Family Justice Courts.

The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals is impressed with the progress Singapore has made in its CFP work within a short time.

There is a lot of interest in private mediation, carried out outside of the courts and other institutions.

The pool of trained family mediators is growing by leaps and bounds. We now need to create the work through greater public awareness and educating lawyers and clients.

Next, we have to set up and promote independent private mediation as a first step for divorcing couples, in addition to counselling, and before consulting lawyers to start legal proceedings.

Mediation and the CFP are complementary dispute resolution tools. Clear and accurate information on these processes and their suitability must be provided to end users as part of the awareness exercise and for its wider use.

This article was first published on May 26, 2015.
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