Saturday 28 February 2015

Divorcing Muslims to learn about how split affects kids

By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 27 Feb 2015

FROM April, Muslim couples finalising their divorce must attend a session at the Syariah Court that aims to help them understand the impact of their break-up on their children.

Couples have to attend a one-off session before collecting their divorce certificates from the court in Bukit Merah.

Only couples with children below 14 need to attend it, but there are plans to extend it to those with children under 21.

The two-hour consultation session is among the programmes to be offered by the PPIS As-Salaam Family Support Centre, which helps divorcing or divorced Muslim couples. Similar sessions for those in civil marriages were introduced this year, and are carried out in the Family Court.

The new programme was announced yesterday by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, after he met educators from the Cinta Abadi Marriage Preparation Programme for the Malay/ Muslim community.

Although there are legal means to resolve issues involving children, such as asking for custody, emotional issues must be dealt with as well, he said.

"This is an investment on our part to ensure that, even after separation, the child's future is well looked after... because this is a difficult time," he told reporters.

Other programmes include a course for parents on how emotional conflict between parents might affect their children, and a course to help children come to terms with the divorce.

The PPIS As-Salaam Family Support Centre is one of four divorce support specialist agencies started this year, and the only one to cater specifically to Muslim couples.

Centre manager Nooraini Razak, 39, hopes the new programmes will help children through the rough patch.

"Sometimes, in the heat of the divorce, parents focus on the breakdown of their relationship but lose sight of their children. They have to remember that even though the marriage is over, their responsibilities to their children, their duty to be good parents, still remain."

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