The Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) within the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Division is the social science arm of the Family Justice Courts (FJC).
CAPS provides both forensic and therapeutic interventions for individuals and families undergoing legal proceedings in the following areas:
CAPS is a team of professional and experienced counsellors, psychologists, and social workers, collectively known as court family specialists (CFS).
There are no fees for services provided by CAPS.
Counselling sessions may be conducted in one of the following ways:
The court sometimes directs parties to undergo counselling and family conferences to try to resolve familial disputes without the need for a trial.
Refer to the following to find out what to expect, depending on the nature of the case heard in the FJC.
When undergoing a divorce, parties with at least one child below 21 years of age are required to attend mediation and counselling. The counselling sessions seek to resolve issues relating to the divorce and care arrangements for the children.
Parties with applications under the Guardianship of Infants Act may also be directed to attend such counselling.
Counselling seeks to help parties gain insights and strategies to find better solutions to their disputes in the best interest of their children.
The CFS may facilitate parties to:
The children may be invited to attend the counselling sessions, where appropriate. These sessions allow the CFS to better understand the needs of the children and to discuss necessary support with the parties.
The CFS may also:
All information discussed during counselling sessions are confidential and cannot be used as evidence if a case subsequently proceeds for trial. However, if the parties and their children are assessed to be at imminent risk of harm, the CFS will alert the relevant agencies and persons (such as other family members) to keep the family safe.
The counselling provided by CAPS for divorce and children care arrangements is often part of the FDR Division's mediation and counselling programme.
During the process of application for a personal protection order (PPO) under the Women's Charter or a protective order (PO) under the Vulnerable Adults Act, the court may direct parties to attend counselling or a family conference. The sessions seek to help parties address underlying familial issues and safety concerns.
The Youth Courts deal with the following cases:
The Youth Courts work in close collaboration with stakeholders such as various government ministries, agencies and professionals. These stakeholders provide relevant recommendations based on the well-being of the children in question.
In cases where parents or families do not agree on the recommendations, the judge may direct the parents or families to attend a family conference facilitated by the CFS.
The family conference seeks to help parents and families better understand the issues or concerns that they may have. Relevant stakeholders may also attend the session to provide their professional input on the recommended support for the families.
Depending on the complexity of the issues involved, the family conference may take half a day or more. The judge may direct for follow-up support and order court reviews to monitor the progress of the case, where necessary.
In determining matters related to the custody, care and control of, or access to a child or children, the court may direct for a child custody evaluation report or a child interview.
In determining matters relating to the custody, care and control of, or access to children, the court may direct for a child custody evaluation report to be prepared.
The evaluation report is confidential and assists the court in deciding on matters relating to the care arrangements for the children as well as the support recommended for the family.
The evaluation process is conducted by a trained evaluator to assess the needs and welfare of the children. As part of the evaluation process, the evaluator takes into consideration the views and inputs of the following parties:
The parties are required to attend interview sessions with the evaluators. Observations of family interactions may also be required. Interview sessions with the children are conducted using a range of activities, based on the ages of the children.
A judicial child interview is a process where the judge interviews a child to have an immediate assessment of the child's wishes. The judge may request for a CFS trained in interviewing children to conduct the session jointly.
Legislation associated with this topic includes:
Refer to Part V of the FJC Practice Directions for alternate dispute resolution.