Divorce

What Is Divorce?

Divorce in Singapore is the legal procedure to terminate a marriage by Court judgement. Aside from effectively dissolving a marital union, a divorce is also concerned with handling marital issues and disputes regarding child custody, alimony, child support and division of assets. Each party should have a Singapore divorce lawyer or family lawyer to counsel and represent him or her during the proceedings.

Singapore divorces will follow a two-stage process. The first stage is the dissolution of marriage, which involves the decision of the Court to grant an Interim Judgment due to irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The second stage concerns the settlement of ancillary matters, including custody and spousal maintenance. Unless the second stage is completed, the divorce cannot be finalized.

Divorce

What Is Simplified or Uncontested Divorce?

A simplified or uncontested divorce in Singapore is a type of divorce wherein both spouses have mutually agreed to dissolve the marriage and settle all ancillary matters amicably. At the time of filing, both parties have already indicated their consent to the divorce and all the ancillary matters. The case will be fixed for an administrative hearing. If everything is in order, the Court will usually grant the Interim Judgment at this hearing. This is ideal as the divorce proceedings are resolved amicably, legal costs are capped and the Final Judgment can be obtained within four months from the time of filing the papers.

Who Is Eligible for a Divorce?

Under the Singapore Divorce Law, parties who wish to file for a divorce must meet the following eligibility requirements:
Arguement Arguement
At least three years of marriage, unless the Plaintiff can prove that he or she has greatly suffered from the marriage (e.g., exceptional hardship or extreme cruelty of the defendant).
Divorcement Paper Signing Divorcement Paper Signing
One party must be a Singapore citizen or has been habitually residing in Singapore for three years before commencing the divorce proceedings.
Court Court
The Plaintiff must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

How to File for Divorce in Singapore?

Below are the main steps on how to file for divorce in Singapore.
  • Signing and submission of required documents to the Family Justice Court (FJC) to commence the divorce proceedings in Singapore. Specific documents you need to submit include:
    • Writ for Divorce - a document that the Plaintiff must present to the Court to officially start the divorce process.
    • Statement of Claim - a statement that includes information such as length of marriage, number of children, the fact relied on for the divorce and the reliefs claimed.
    • Statement of Particulars - a detailed statement of why the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
    • Proposed Parenting Plan - a proposal on the care arrangements for children who are below 21 years old
    • Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan - a proposal on how to deal with/divide the Housing & Development Board (HDB) flat.
  • After the documents have been accepted by the Court, they must be served personally on the Defendant. The Defendant will be given eight days after that to decide if he or she will contest the divorce. If the Defendant chooses to contest, he or she will be required to file a Memorandum of Appearance and subsequently, a Defence and Counterclaim.
  • Once the Interim Judgment is granted and if the ancillary matters remain outstanding, both parties must file their Affidavits of Assets and Means which will set out their assets, income, liabilities, contributions made to the family and care arrangements pertaining to the children to enable the Court to determine a just and equitable division of the matrimonial assets, the custody, care and control and access to the children as well as maintenance for the spouse and children.

What Are the Legal Grounds for Divorce in Singapore?

Singapore divorce has only one ground, which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The party filing for divorce must prove one of the following reasons for irretrievable breakdown:
  • Adultery - One party had sexual intercourse with someone other than his or her spouse.
  • Unreasonable behaviour - The Plaintiff must prove claims of the Defendant's unreasonable behaviour, which makes living with the Defendant impossible or unbearable. Unreasonable behaviour may include domestic violence, verbal abuse, alcoholism, financial irresponsibility, gambling, excessive spending, etc.
  • Desertion - The Defendant has deserted the plaintiff for at least two years with no consent or reasonable justification.
  • Separation - Spouses have been living separately for at least three years with mutual consent and for four years if there was no such mutual consent.

How Much Does It Cost to File a Divorce in Singapore?

The fees for filing for divorce in Singapore depends largely on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested and will take into consideration the lawyer’s fee, disbursements, and other divorce law services in Singapore like pre-divorce consultations.

How Long Does a Divorce Process Take?

The duration of a divorce process in Singapore depends on whether it is a contested, or uncontested divorce. For an uncontested divorce, the divorce can usually be finalized within 4 months. An Interim Judgement may be granted within a month after filing the court documents followed by a compulsory “cooling-off” period of 3 months before the Final Judgment can be granted. Meanwhile, a contested divorce may take up to 12 months or more, depending on the complexity of the case and level of dispute. Where parties have children below 21 years old, mediation is mandatory process. Further, if parties are unable to agree on the divorce, they will have to proceed for a hearing before the Court can grant the Interim Judgment. If the parties cannot agree on the ancillary matters, another hearing on these issues will have to take place.

Can I Get a Divorce Even if My Spouse Refuses?

In accordance with the Divorce Law in Singapore, if your spouse does not consent to the divorce, you can proceed to file the case as a contested divorce. In such cases, the other party will be given a deadline to respond to the application for divorce. If he or she fails to respond, the Court can continue with the proceedings in the Defendant’s absence and decide on the divorce and ancillary matters based on the evidence presented.

Can I Get a Divorce Even if My Spouse is Missing?

If you have lost contact with your spouse and he or she cannot be found, you can commence contested divorce proceedings. You would then have to apply to Court for service of the documents to be dispensed with. Once the Court allows for dispensation of service, the case can proceed in the Defendant’s absence.
However, if your spouse can be contacted via e-mail, WhatsApp or any other messaging platform, you can also apply for substituted service via these methods. This will allow the divorce proceedings to continue.

Articles on Divorce

Divorce Cost and Fees in Singapore

Approximately 25% of marriages end up in divorce. According to the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS), there were 7,107 divorces and annulments and 28,389 marriages in 2022. Divorce can be emotionally draining and financially burdensome due to its costs that include legal fees, division of assets, and ongoing spousal or child support payments (maintenance).

What are the Documents Required for a Divorce in Singapore?

In Singapore, divorce is a legal procedure that allows a married couple to legally terminate their marriage by Court Judgment. It also involves handling issues regarding child custody, maintenance, and division of the matrimonial assets. The assistance of a competent and compassionate divorce lawyer who can provide legal advice and support is invaluable.

What are the Legal Grounds for Divorce in Singapore?

Divorce refers to the legal action of dissolving a marriage. To divorce in Singapore, the filing party must be able to satisfy the only accepted ground for divorce, which is the “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”. This means that either or both parties have become definitively unable or unwilling to live or reconcile with one another.

Alternative Options to Divorce in Singapore

There are many reasons why a couple’s marriage might end, and in Singapore, divorce is available for them provided that they can show sufficient evidence of what the Women’s Charter defines as the “irretrievable breakdown of marriage.”

How to Choose The Right Divorce Lawyer?

Divorce in Singapore refers to a legal procedure that terminates a marriage. In Singapore, divorce involves a two-stage process, whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce.

Case Study: 3 Stories of Divorce & Child Custody

Read about three cases of divorce and child custody that our firm handled, and how we've helped our clients.

Dividing Matrimonial Assets During a Divorce in Singapore

The division of matrimonial assets in Singapore during a divorce is a complex and sometimes contentious process.

What Will Happen to Your HDB Flat After a Divorce?

When marriages end in divorce, matrimonial assets are divided in a just and equitable manner.

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