No-fault divorce resurfaces in Singapore Parliament! It is a welcome step!
The UK passed the No-fault divorce Act in June 2020. It will now become a law on 6 April 2022. It is a welcome step. Singapore is following suit. Many consider it as revolutionary or radical. But it is not so. It is just the need of the hour in response to changed thinking on marriage and gender roles.
Singapore and its new move towards no-fault divorce
Current divorce laws in many countries are regressive. They require the concerned parties to prove to court that their marriage is irreparably broken and cannot be mended. The element of blame on each other was mandatory to state that the divorce must be granted. These things only complicated matters and led to bitterness in the ending relationship. Children care suffered and there was too much of foul blood running there.
But no-fault divorce is a good option out. Here the divorce is by mutual consent. This is already an Act in the UK. This type of divorce was proposed as an amendment to the Women’s Charter in 1979 in Singapore. But nothing happened. It was removed soon and could not be converted into a law. The then policymakers felt that one should not make it easy to end a marriage. They felt that the hardships of getting a divorce is an incentive to save it. How wrong!
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The recent Singapore Parliamentary proceedings on no-fault divorce
But earlier this month, the concept of no-fault divorce resurfaced in Singaporean Parliament. This would assist couples to get a divorce without blaming each other for it and without waiting for 3 to 4 years for it. It is good for the departing couples. It would reduce pain, bitterness and litigation expenditure.
The current laws rest on the belief that all divorces are ill-thought of and can be avoided. But couples are mature enough and if they decide to divorce it is after much deliberation and consideration. The Family and Juvenile Justice Centre of the Subordinate Courts in 2002 conducted a study that showed that 50 couples were in marital relationship for a mean of 14.3 years before they went for divorce. But 50% of the studied sample felt marital issues in the first 4 years after marriage. And women realized these earlier than men.
Main causes of divorce
The study also showed that communication breakdown was the main reason for seeking divorce. Women also felt that domestic violence and financial hardships were other major reasons for it. On the other hand, men cited quarrels and problems with in-laws as the next main causes for separation. The local sociologist Sharon Ee Ling Quah cited following reasons for divorce in her book:
Failed communication, misalignment of life expectations, unmet need for emotional intimacy and close bonding, neglect, cheating, no financial ability and responsibility to provide for the family, domestic violence, gambling, drug addiction and alcoholism. It is not always fault-based. The couples may be incompatible or just grow apart.
This divorce law will not increase divorce rates but will help couples who want it to have it in an easy way. Even in the USA, the new laws did not drastically increase divorce rates. Let us stop couples from continuing with broken unhappy marriages just because law is not good enough for them. The changing gender roles also shows that women initiate divorce procedure often than men. Many times couples cannot avoid want to divorce. At least one can make it amicable and faster.