PKWA Divorce Lawyer Dorothy Tan quoted in the Straits Times article entitled ” Fewer divorces, personal protection orders filed in 2020.”


PKWA Law Family and Matrimonial Partner Dorothy Tan has been quoted in the Straits Times article entitled ” Fewer divorces, personal protection orders filed in 2020.”  The article was first published on 12 February 2021.

Dorothy Tan says one reason for fewer divorces in 2020 could be that access to courts was severely curtailed during the pandemic’s early stages and law firms were closed.  Another reason is that many couples backed off from a divorce for fear it would only worsen financial insecurity caused by the pandemic. 


SINGAPORE – Fewer divorces, personal protection orders filed in 2020

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 12 Feb 2021
Author: Theresa Tan

However, family lawyers interviewed said the statistics may not adequately reflect the realities on the ground.

There were fewer divorces filed last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which took a major toll on all aspects of life – from finances to family ties.

There were 6,016 divorce writs filed last year, 5 per cent fewer than the 6,321 in 2019.

The writ for divorce is one of several documents that must be filed to start divorce proceedings.

The Family Justice Courts’ (FJC) total caseload fell by 8 per cent last year, with Presiding Judge Debbie Ong saying “we think this is due largely to the Covid-19 pandemic”.

During the circuit breaker in April and May alone, the caseload fell by about 60 per cent compared with the same two months in 2019.

The FJC also handled fewer of other types of cases, such as maintenance and family violence.

For example, there were 2,248 fresh applications for a personal protection order (PPO) last year, a 9 per cent drop from 2,460 in 2019.

A PPO is a court order restraining a person from committing violence against a family member.

The PPO data, part of the statistics released in the FJC’s Workplan 2021 on Wednesday, dispelled earlier concerns that the stresses brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and the circuit breaker would lead to a spike in family violence cases.

However, family lawyers interviewed said the statistics may not adequately reflect the realities on the ground.

The FJC heard only “urgent and essential” cases, such as those that constitute a threat to life and liberty or are time sensitive, during the circuit breaker last year, they said. All other hearings were adjourned to after the circuit breaker, and this could have led to the fall in divorce cases filed last year.

Lawyer Dorothy Tan said: “It could be because everything came to a halt for two months during the circuit breaker. The fact that people were stuck at home and law firms physically closed also meant that it was administratively more difficult to facilitate the commencement of new divorce proceedings during the circuit breaker.”

In her speech outlining plans for the year, Justice Ong stressed the FJC’s approach of therapeutic justice.

Therapeutic justice is a non-adversarial process that seeks to solve problems and help parents to learn to manage their conflicts and engage in co-parenting, instead of an adversarial approach where each party pursues his or her interests single-mindedly.

This involves bringing therapeutic help for the parties involved, making the processes “simple, navigable and doable”, and ensuring legal professionals such as family judges and lawyers are equipped to deliver therapeutic justice, said Justice Ong.

She said: “The common denominator in all these is a focus on problem-solving instead of adversarial litigation.”


Full article can be found here.

Source:  The Straits Times

Author:  Theresa Tan



Dorothy Tan - Divorce Lawyer in Singapore

Dorothy Tan is Senior Associate Director at PKWA Law, and is Deputy Head of the Family Law Department.  She has been recognised as a leading family lawyer in Singapore by Asian Legal Business, Doyles Guide and Singapore Business Review.

At PKWA Law, our team of Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore family and divorce lawyers by respected legal publications such as Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, Straits Times, Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review and Doyle’s Guide.

Contact us at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation.


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