This section provides information on resolving family disputes at the Family Justice Courts (FJC) through mediation conducted by the FJC.
For information on mediating MSS matters (maintenance claims for spouse and/or child), please click
For information on mediation by private mediation service providers, please click here.
The information provided below is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. The FJC cannot provide legal advice or assist with drafting the contents of any document.
References to legislation:
Resolving Family Disputes at the FJC
Family disputes are typically emotionally charged as they go to the heart of familial relations. Litigating your family matter can be expensive, stressful and upsetting for all involved.
With parties having on-going relationships as family members, often times, the process of litigation and eventual decision by the Courts may not ultimately resolve the relational aspects of the dispute.
The FJC has been constituted to help parties resolve family disputes, as far as possible, in a less acrimonious way through the use of counselling and mediation provided by Judges, staff Family Mediators, Court Family Specialists and volunteer specialists at the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) division of the FJC. All cases coming before the Courts will be managed pro-actively by judges from the start and where necessary, the Courts can direct that parties undergo counselling and mediation to try and reach amicable resolution of their disputes instead of proceeding with adjudication. There is mandatory counselling and mediation for cases in which parties have at least one child below 21 years of age.
||Type of Applications
||Age of Children
|Mandatory Counselling and Mediation
||Divorce writs filed with at least one minor child filed on or after 1 October 2014
||At least one child under 21 years
||Family Justice Courts, 5 Maxwell Road, #04-00, Tower Block MND Complex, Singapore 069110
|Directed/ Voluntary Counselling and Mediation
||All Other divorce and Ancillary Matters and applications pursuant to e.g.: Guardianship of infants Act, Mental Capacity Act and Probate Matters
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process which offers a safe and supportive environment in which parties can communicate openly with each other and explore options for themselves and their loved ones through the assistance of a neutral third party (a mediator). Our mediators, who may be specially appointed judges or volunteer legal professionals, aim to build bridges for better communication and a focus on the future so that parties may find mutually acceptable and sustainable solutions for their issues.
What are the advantages of mediation?
- Saves time, money and stress;
- Learn better ways of dealing with conflict;
- Children benefit from parents taking more responsibility; and
- Parties feel more empowered by making their own decisions.
What is counselling?
Counselling is conducted by mental health professionals known as Court Family Specialists who will help parties gain insights and strategies to better manage personal and relationship issues in relation to the dispute at hand. The aim is to help parties resolve familial disputes, heal and as far as possible repair familial relationships. For example, in the aftermath of a divorce, it is important that parties understand the developmental needs of their children and the co-parenting role that both parents will continue to have going forward. The other members of the extended family, on a case by case basis, can also take part in the counselling process to strengthen familial bonds for the road ahead.
For more information on counselling in divorce or other family disputes, please click
Mandatory Counselling and Mediation in Court for cases with children less than 21 years of age
A child's well-being is the paramount concern of the FJC.
Divorcing couples with at least one child below 21 years of age are required by law to undergo mandatory counselling and mediation at the Courts as part of the divorce proceedings.
Through counselling and mediation at the Courts, the Courts aim to help parents:
- Identify and promote their children's best interests through mediation and counselling;
- Build an appropriate and sustainable parenting agreement that allows their children to have meaningful relationships with both parents;
- Effect positive co-parenting that is sensitive to the unique needs of their children; and
- Find closure to the current acrimony and move forward.
The specialists in FJC comprise of:
- Mediators who are specially appointed Judges, staff Family Mediators specialising in family mediation; and
- Court Family Specialists who are specially appointed court mental health professionals with expertise in child welfare and family related matters.
Depending on the issues in dispute, and in particular when the case involves a child, parties will be expected to attend one or a combination of the following sessions:
|Type of Sessions
|Who to attend
|Family Dispute Resolution Conference
Parties who have disagreements on parenting arrangements as well as other family related issues, will have to attend a FDR Conference with their lawyers (if any). A Judge and a Court Family Specialist will meet with all parties. The Judge and Court Family Specialist will clarify the issues and set the agenda for the mediation and counselling, as well as narrow any differences that both parties may have. The Judge will then fix a mediation or co-mediation session.
At the end of the FDR conference, the parties will meet with the Court Family Specialist for counselling.
For more information on counselling in divorce or other family disputes, please click here.
The Mediator will meet with the parties and their lawyers to discuss the case. The Mediator will also help parties resolve issues related to the child, and other related disputes.
Co-mediation may be necessary if the Mediator considers that there are complex legal and emotional issues. Here, a Mediator and a Court Family Specialist will help the parties and lawyers to address the issues holistically. Sessions may also be held for the child to speak with the Mediator and/or Court Family Specialist.
All information and matters discussed during the FDR conferences, counselling, mediation or co-mediation are confidential. Should a case go for a hearing, anything said or any document provided in confidence during these sessions cannot be used as evidence. A different Judge will hear the case.
- Length of session(s)
The length of the session(s) will vary depending on the requirements of the case. The majority of cases would be completed in three (3) sessions or less. Single or limited issues might take less time. Exceptionally complex or sensitive cases might take longer and will be specially managed.
The number of sessions depends on several factors:
- Readiness of the parties and their lawyers
- Commitment to the process
- Level of conflict and trust between the parties
- Complexity of issues and the status of legal proceedings
- Need for empowerment of the parties in order to establish a more level playing field
Should both parties reach an agreement during counselling, mediation or co-mediation, the agreed terms can be recorded by a Judge as an Order of Court made by the consent of the parties, where appropriate. Once recorded, both parents are required by law to abide by the agreed terms. However, either party may apply to vary the terms of the order if there is a significant change in circumstances affecting the parties in the future.
In the event parties are unable to reach an agreement after counselling, mediation and/or co-mediation, the court will give necessary directions for parties to prepare for hearing.
The Maintenance Mediation Chambers (MMC) is a dedicated one-stop centre to deal with all the maintenance disputes through mediation at the FJC. It offers a free mediation service to assist parties to resolve their maintenance disputes amicably.
When litigants make applications in Court for maintenance for self and/or child, or for enforcement or variations of existing maintenance orders, mediation appointments will be fixed at MMC for parties to attend at the FJC to mediate their maintenance disputes.
The MMC is located at level 2 of the FJC at 3 Havelock Square, Singapore 059725.
On the day of the mediation, a mediator will be assigned to each case to help parties explore their underlying interests and needs in a private and non-confrontational setting. A variety of mediation tools will be employed to assist them to make a mutually acceptable and informed decision. Through mediation, parties may arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement.
The terms of the agreement reached between parties will be recorded before the Judge as a consent order and become binding to both parties.
A second mediation date will usually be given to parties for them to consider options/ proposals and to prepare documents. If there is no change of positions at the second session, the case will be transferred to the mentions court in order to prepare for the trial.