Divorce in Singapore is a 2-stage process, but before the court gets to hear a case, there are a few conditions that have to be met. It’s very important to know about these and get help from a great divorce lawyer in Singapore so you’ll be guided about the intricacies and requirements you have to comply with according to Singapore divorce law.
DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE: THE PREREQUISITES
- Initial Eligibility Requirements (Section 93 & 94, Women’s Charter)
BEFORE YOU PROCEED: The initial eligibility requirements stated in this section may not be applicable to you if you were married under Muslim law
Before either spouse can file and undergo divorce procedures under Singapore divorce law, the Women’s charter requires the couple to abide by these conditions:
- Either of the parties to the marriage is domiciled in Singapore at the time of commencement of the proceedings; or habitually resident in Singapore for a period of 3 years immediately preceding the commencement of the proceedings; and
- At least 3 years must have elapsed since the date of the marriage, unless the case is one of exceptional hardship suffered by the plaintiff (spouse filing for divorce) or of exceptional depravity on the part of the defendant (spouse defending against the divorce).
Proving The Irretrievable breakdown of marriage
Once the initial eligibility requirements have been met, it’s now time for the plaintiff to show proof that the marriage is totally broken down and is irreconcilable. This is termed as the irretrievable breakdown of marriage, and this is the only legal ground on which Singapore Divorce Law can base verdicts involving dissolution of marriages.
Based on section 95 (3) of the Women’s Charter, one or more of the following facts that the plaintiff can use to show the court that the marriage is irretrievably broken down:
- that the defendant has committed adultery and the plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the defendant;
- that the defendant has behaved in such a way that the plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with the defendant;
- that the defendant has deserted the plaintiff for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the writ;
- that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 3 years immediately preceding the filing of the writ and the defendant consents to a judgement being granted;
- that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 4 years immediately preceding the filing of the writ.
This part is crucial to the fate of the plaintiff’s divorce claim. Having an expert Singapore lawyer for divorce will ensure the plaintiff will be guided in presenting his or her case in a matter that is most convincing for the court to hear the case.
DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE: THE APPLICATION PROCESS
The Application Process: Documentary Requirements
According to the Family Justice Courts of Singapore, The plaintiff will first need to file certain documents to initiate the divorce process.
- Writ for Divorce – a court document filed by the plaintiff to signal his or her willingness to commence divorce proceedings;
- Statement of Claim – this statement contains information about the marriage, any children the couple may have, and the reasons why the plaintiff thinks the marriage is irretrievably broken;
- Statement of Particulars – this details the reasons listed in the Statement of Claim using factual information;
- Proposed Parenting Plan (for those who have children below 21 years of age) – a document filed by the plaintiff containing proposed conditions on how the would-be separated couple will parent their children after the divorce. If they have already agreed on such terms, they may file instead an Agreed Parenting Plan ; and
- Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan (for those who have a HBD flat to be divided between spouses) – a document filed by the plaintiff containing proposed conditions on how the would-be separated couple will divide or handle their property after the divorce. If they have already agreed on such terms, they may file instead an Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan
As for the defendant, he or she is required to comply with the following documents:
- Acknowledgement of Service – a document signed by the defendant as acknowledgement that documents related to the divorce filing have been served to him or her; and
- Memorandum of Appearance – a document with which the defendant indicates if he or she intends to contest the divorce and/or ancillary matters.
Legal documents can be confusing and intimidating for many to fill out. This is why having a reliable Lawyer who is versed in Singapore divorce law and Divorce procedures in Singapore will help you ease out the nerves and guide you with the correct way of stating things to ensure a solid case for divorce.
DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE: THE 2 STAGES
At this point, the plaintiff has met the prerequisites for filing a divorce and has now forwarded all the necessary documents with the help of an expert Singapore divorce lawyer. The court may now be involved in the proceedings to get the ball rolling on another divorce procedure in Singapore.
The First Stage: The Dissolution of Marriage
This is the stage where the court decides whether the claim of the plaintiff (the one filing the divorce), that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, has grounds. If the court finds proof that the complaint holds true, it will grant an Interim Judgement to permit dissolution of marriage.
It’s in this very same stage that the documents filed for divorce are served to the defendant. He or she is then given at most 8 days to submit The Memorandum of Appearance to signify his or her intent to contest the plaintiff’s claim. Afterwhich, the defendant is given another 14 days to construct and submit his or her Defence.
The Second Stage: Ancillary Matters
Following the court’s ruling in favor of Divorce is the stage we refer to as the ancillary matters stage. This is the point where the court decides how affairs such as spousal maintenance and child custody will be taken care of. Prior to the court hearing this stage of the divorce, both parties are required to submit Affidavits of Assets and Means that disclose all assets and liabilities, income, and expenditures. In cases where the value of estate(s) amount to more than $1.5 million, the case will be transferred to the High Court and proceed to be heard there.
Once the necessary documents have been filed, a date for the ancillary hearing will be decided on and the court will hear the proceedings as scheduled. This stage, however, does not signal the closure of a divorce case.
The court’s Interim Judgement permitting the dissolution of marriage may only be accepted with finality either 3 months after the ruling or upon settling all ancillary matters, whichever finishes later. Once these conditions have been met, the divorce proceedings may now be considered concluded.
DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE: A HELPING HAND
Even with all these things considered, and having more intricacies actually in between each procedure and document, you may still go through a divorce in Singapore without the help of an expert in Singapore Divorce Law.
However, having a great divorce lawyer in Singapore can give your case the edge, whether you’re the plaintiff or the defendant, and win the court over to make their decision favor your desired outcome.
Having a helping hand in matters of divorce procedures in Singapore can make a very big difference in your chances of achieving the true freedom and peace of mind that you deserve as a human being.
A Singapore divorce lawyer need not be expensive too. You can talk to us at Advance Law LLC to find out how we can provide you legal assistance with the greatest Divorce lawyers in Singapore, while at the same time guaranteeing to be one of the most affordable divorce lawyer providers islandwide.