Singapore’s divorce rate is experiencing an upward trend, with the number of marriages being dissolved increasing each year. The proportion of the population who were either divorced or separated was 3.8% in 2015, up from 3.3% in 2010. Divorcees need not feel alone or helpless as they can achieve closure through counselling for divorce, which has become progressively more commonplace in Singapore.

 

1. Effects of Divorce



Divorces are known to be tedious and painful. The stressful and tiresome divorce proceedings, its resulting financial strain and adjusting to living without your spouse very often results in trauma and sorrow. These psychological effects may last for up to four years after the divorce; you, and possibly your children, would benefit from recognizing and remedying these effects early.

(i) Effects on Divorcees
The tumultuous period immediately after divorce may lead to separation anxiety and uncertainties for both former spouses. You may experience grief, lowered self-esteem and even depression. Such a significant imbalance of mental well-being has been shown to lead to substance abuse- you may be trapped in a cesspool of negativity and not realise it. In addition, the notion that men are ‘tough’ and are therefore immune to psychological trauma is a myth- they are prone to depressive episodes as well (Read more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-09/mali-hdd093013.php).

Further, you may feel rejected or embarrassed for carrying the ‘divorced’ label. Unfortunately, divorcees do still face discrimination, and the resulting distress increases manifold when the hounding comes from their loved ones, such as their relatives and friends. If your loved ones fall short in giving you support, do not fret and certainly do not withdraw from social settings.

(ii) Effects on Children
Children are arguably the most important stakeholders in a marriage, and will be adversely affected in the event of a divorce. While you are coping with your grief, you may find that you have become neglectful of your children or are unable to attend to their feelings. This would be disastrous- children, especially those of a tender age, may harbour feelings of self-blame and anxiety due to their lack of understanding of the new family dynamics.

Children may then undergo depression and withdrawal, or display disruptive behaviour. They may also be subject to different disciplinary regimes, with their parents disagreeing over parenting styles. Being on the receiving end of baffling and contradictory messages from each parent can only be detrimental. These can be precursors of delinquency, in the form of drug abuse or even criminal behaviour (link to research: http://www.lawgazette.com.sg/2001-8/Aug01-feature.htm). While healing from your divorce, it is crucial to ensure that your children heal with you and become certain of what the future holds.

2. Benefits of Divorce Counselling



Many are unaware that divorce counselling services even exist. Divorce counselling includes services for divorcing and divorced individuals, or soon to be former spouses, who could use professional support for their vulnerable state. It could also help to iron out the fine details of arrangements for the children that have not been finalised in court.

Divorce Counselling can help you:

(a) Create problem solving rubrics that will help you solve the issues that were highlighted in the divorce process
(b) Understand the financial implications, especially with regard to divorce maintenance and division of matrimonial assets
(c) Overcome psychological trauma: feelings of guilt, grief and loss
(d) Deal with the fear of a fresh start and discuss future relationships
(e) Plan for the short-term and long-term

Divorce counselling can help your children in the following ways:

(i) Pick up coping strategies for dealing with parents in conflict
(ii) Identify social, emotional and academic problems promptly and work on them
(iii) Develop resilience
(iv) Prevent lapsing into depressive episodes and behavioural troubles

The first step to mitigating the effects of divorce is to acknowledge these effects and be open to seeking professional help. The worst thing you could do is delude yourself into thinking that you are completely immune from the psychological repercussions as they will culminate when unchecked.

3. Divorce Counselling



There are several ways to seek professional help to cope with the transition during the divorce proceedings or post-divorce adjustments:

(a) Online or Telephone Counselling
This form of counselling suits individuals who are not quite ready to have face-to-face interactions with counsellors yet. In time, when you become more comfortable, you may choose to switch to face-to-face counselling. Online counselling is offered by some counsellors at a flat fee per session and will come with a confidentiality clause so that your details are not disclosed. Telephone counselling may cost nothing more than service charges, depending on the counsellors- AWARE is an example of an organisation with a helpline.

(b) Face-to-Face Counselling
There is no shortage of private family counsellors who offer divorce counselling. A number of them offer a programme comprising of 5-6 sessions, structured to tackle a different issue each session. When selecting a counsellor, ensure that the counsellor’s fee structure suits you and that he/she outlines the objectives of the counselling sessions at the very beginning. In addition to private counselling, there are also services that come under MSF- namely Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs).

4. Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs)



The DSSAs provide child-centric services for divorcing and divorced couples to encourage cooperative parenting and put the children’s needs first. There are currently four DSSAs (locations can be found at https://app.msf.gov.sg/Divorce-Support/Divorce-Support/Divorce-Support-Specialist-Agencies-DSSAs-/DSSA-Locations). Aside from the mandatory Parenting PACT programme that parents of children under 14 must undergo, DSSAs also offer other counselling services to help with the pain of divorce.

DSSAs offer free programmes which vary according to the DSSA (listing of programmes can be found at https://app.msf.gov.sg/Divorce-Support/Divorce-Support/Divorce-Support-Specialist-Agencies-DSSAs-/DSSA-Programmes). These extend to children as well as their parents; counsellors aim to create a conducive familial environment.

5. Support Groups



Face-to-face counselling involves divorce support groups, where like-minded individuals are brought together to share their experiences and offer mutual support. Some of these groups are specific to a certain demographic e.g. only women, or children in an age range. DSSAs as well as private counsellors conduct these group sessions and you can look for the type of session that suits you best.

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Founder and Principal Lawyer
of Yeo and Associates LLC

Beatrice Yeo Poh Tiang

Having handled over 10,000 divorces since 2006, Ms. Beatrice Yeo, the Founder and Principal Lawyer of the firm, is widely acknowledged as one of the best divorce lawyers in Singapore.

She has extensive experience in all aspects of Matrimonial Law, including Nullity Proceedings, Contested & Uncontested Divorce and Mediation.

It is Beatrice’s personal endeavour to make sure that her clients get her personal and specialised attention.

Contact Ms. Beatrice Yeo right away for a FREE phone consultation on legal costs and divorce procedure. You may also fill up the enquiry form above to be contacted by Yeo & Associates LLC.

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