Study suggests children from divorced families in Singapore face ‘long-term divorce penalties’
Children from divorced families were less likely to obtain a university degree and likely to earn less.
A study from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has suggested that children from divorced families faced long-term “divorce penalties” in adulthood compared to children from intact families.
The findings, released on Tuesday (Dec 8) by MSF, looked at the economic and marriage outcomes of about 9,000 Singaporeans with divorced parents, at the point when they turned 35 years old.
Using aggregated data derived from multiple sources of administrative and survey records, the study found that children from divorced families were less likely to obtain a university degree, earned less, had lower CPF balances, were less likely to marry and were themselves more likely to divorce among those who were married.
Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, said of the study findings: “We now know the effects of divorce on a child are not temporary and impact the child’s future, his education and his family when he marries.
“This is why post-divorce, positive co-parenting is so important. At the same time, all of us can play our part. If we know someone whose marriage is suffering, do reach out and encourage him or her to seek help early. We may not only save that marriage, but also change the life of a child, for the better.”
MSF said it is now working with six appointed divorce support specialist agencies to provide specialised support to divorcing and divorced families. These agencies provide a range of divorce support services to help parents to co-parent better. It also helps children to manage the psycho-educational aspects of their parents’ divorce.
For Muslim couples planning to seek a divorce, they will be required to attend the mandatory Marriage Counselling Programme (MCP) run by the Syariah Court in partnership with community agencies. MCP aims to effect a reconciliation but if the marriage cannot be saved, the counsellors will facilitate an amicable divorce instead.
Couples who would like to seek help for marriage, parenting and divorce issues can contact the CPH Online Counselling. A two-year pilot programme conducted by the Community Psychology Hub (CPH) and supported by MSF that was launched in April 2020, it offers free online counselling to persons facing marital, divorce and parenting issues.
Counselling is provided by professional counsellors through live chats or email, which offers anonymity and convenience to those needing counselling support. Couples who prefer face-to-face counselling may also approach counselling centres or Family Service Centres in the community for support.
MSF is also working closely with its community partners to strengthen marriage and support families at various life stages through various programmes.
The ministry added that it has worked with community and religious organisations to train 215 individuals, including marriage solemnisers, as Marital First Responders (MFRs).
These are members of the community who provide basic marriage support to couples with marital issues and refer them to professional services where needed. MSF will continue to train more MFRs to expand the pool and render support to couples in need.