CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

Print Version    Email to Friend
Unravelling the divorce mess

HONG KONG (SE): A formal blessing by Father Gregoire Vignola, from Resurrection parish, marked the opening of the Grace and Harmony Parenting Coordination Centre in Tsui Ping (North) Estate, Kwun Tong, on June 16.

Opened by Imelda Chan Joi-ying, the executive manager for charities of the Hong Kong Jockey Club; Bonnie Leung Ho-yau, from the Kwun Tong District Social Welfare Office of the Social Welfare Department; and Joseph Lee King-chi, from the Hong Kong Catholic Marriage Advisory Council; the centre will offer support services to divorced or separated parents and their children under the auspices of the Marriage Advisory Council.

Lee, the chairperson of the executive committee, said at the opening that children of separated and divorced parents face a lot of difficulties.

One of the ambitions of the centre is to help parents unravel the complications of family relationships that come with a rupture in a marriage and assist them to create new relationship structures especially from the point of view of their children.

He explained that he hopes the centre will become a source of support for such families by assisting them in making equitable co-parenting arrangements that can be agreed to by both parties.

Angela Chiu Chui Yuen-fun, from the Marriage Advisory Council, said its purpose is to provide mediation and support services for separated and divorced parents. “We feel encouraged when those who use our services begin to see some hope in their marriage crisis, which can help them to rebuild their lives.”

The renovation cost of the centre was funded by the Jockey Club.

Cheng Yu-hung and his wife availed themselves of the mediation services of the council after their divorce four years ago, which they said helped them settle arrangements on co-parenting issues equitably.

Cheng said he had guilt feelings about their children being under pressure due to the inability of his wife and himself to sort out their problems, but the two of them have since learned to agree about how to manage their affairs.

“It is easy to hate each other after a separation and it is not easy to give way,” Cheng said, adding that he is glad that they got support from the council in time, so that they could sustain a workable relationship with their children.

With the increasing number of divorce or separation cases in Hong Kong, the council set up its first marriage mediation counselling service centre in 1988, with funding from the Jockey Club, to give divorced parents help in restructuring their families in the best interests of their children.

The council is receiving further funding of nearly $6 million over three years from the Jockey Club to launch a Parenting Coordination Service for Divorced Families beginning from April last year.

The project provides professional assistance to divorced couples that find themselves in constant arguments, which put their children under pressure.

A website was set up under the name of Divorce Survivor to provide related information to separated parents and encourage them to show love for their children even after they have split.

A spokesperson for the council said that in recent years Hong Kong government policy on divorce has shifted its focus from parental legal rights and child custody and access, to children’s rights and the related parental responsibilities.

However, the path to co-parenting involves huge pressure due to the emotional problems experienced in the transitional period, as well as lack of communication and problem-solving skills.

The centre will provide adjustment counselling, mediation services, co-parenting coordination counselling, workshops and other related services.

Therapeutic groups and individual counselling will be arranged to empower children and give them more confidence in facing divorce in the family by strengthening their ability to make the adjustments demanded by the change in family structure and relationships.

More from this section