Tuition and divorce

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In September 2013, The Independent Singapore reported on Senior Minister of State for Education Ms Indranee Rajah’s observation on the perceived need for tuition that “the key to that is the parents’ mindset and belief. We hope the message will get out to parents, not to pile on unnecessary tuition onto their students.”

In Singapore, tuition has crept into every facet of a child’s education, with some having tuition even before they are enter primary one. So, it is understandable that when it comes to divorce proceedings, access time with children can often be seen to be subservient to the all-important tuition of the child.

Justice Choo Han Teck had to grapple with this very issue in a case before him where a mother sought to revoke an access order as she stated it is “disruptive to studies”.

Judge Choo thought otherwise as he dismissed the mother’s appeal. He explained that what parties must appreciate is what the nature of access orders is.  He stated that ultimately the court has to decide on the best interest and well-being of the child so that both parents can be involved in the upbringing of the child.

He explained that it is more important for the child to continue to interact with both parents than have tuition schedules disrupt the child’s time with both parents. In what is clearly a statement that places parenting rights above those of tuition classes for the child, he stated in his conclusion that personal interaction between a child and parent can be more crucial in the development of the child than tuition classes.

It is clear that the judge has placed much thought on this matter as his observation is most sensible and practical. It will also address the mischief where parents who want to deprive the other parent of access time can load the child with so much tuition and then make access hellish by reducing the other parent’s role to that of a chauffeur shuttling the child from one tuition class or enrichment class to another.

This has been an on-going problem in many matrimonial cases and it is refreshing to note that finally the true meaning of parenting has been reclaimed. This is a small but decisive victory for every parent who has been denied proper access over the years all in the name of tuition.