Divorce Lawyers in Singapore
Divorce Lawyers in SingaporeUpdated on Monday 28th November 2022
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The legal framework for divorce in Singapore
Divorce procedures in Singapore fall under the Women’s Charter or Chapter 353. In order to apply for divorce in Singapore one of the spouses must be a resident when applying for separation or must have lived in the city for three continuous years when starting the divorce proceedings. However, it is best for spouses to ask Singapore divorce lawyers before proceeding with the application.
The grounds for divorce in Singapore are the following: adultery, unreasonable behavior that makes it impossible for one of the spouses to live with the other, desertion - if one of the party has left the conjugal home for more than two years or if the spouses have lived apart for three years or more. If spouses have lived apart for four continuous years, the Singapore Court will start the divorce proceedings immediately. For legal assistance and legal representation on this matter, our divorce lawyer in Singapore remains at your disposal with professional services.
What is unreasonable behavior for divorce in Singapore?
Requesting to divorce in Singapore based on the legal ground of unreasonable behavior is possible in specific situations, through which a party files for divorce due to the fact that the other party has done something that is not suitable for the married life. Our divorce lawyer in Singapore can represent you in immigration matters as well, such as in the process of obtaining permanent residence.
Please mind that the law on immigration in Singapore stipulates that the foreign person who is the spouse of a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident does not automatically obtain the right to reside here only because of the marriage with the local citizen.
As a non-resident, a foreign spouse will always need to obtain the approval for long-stay in this country.
If you need assistance on how to relocate here as a foreigner who is the spouse of a Singaporean citizen/permanent resident, you are invited to address to our immigration lawyers in Singapore for legal advice.
Our team can present the procedures you have to follow in order to obtain the right to permanent residency or even citizenship, in the case in which the latter is of your interest.
Initially, the spouse can obtain a residency permit in Singapore under the form of a Long-Term Visit Pass. Depending on the circumstances of the couple (duration of the marriage, a pregnant spouse), the applicant can obtain a Long-Term Visit Pass Plus.
This document has a longer validity period than the basic Pass, but regardless of circumstances, all applicants will follow the same application process.
It must be noted that the legislation in Singapore stipulates that unreasonable behavior can be a subjective aspect and not simply limited to the very clear situations stipulated by certain provisions, as each married couple may go through various situations. A person can easily file for divorce in the situation in which the other spouse may have had violent episodes that are not a threat to the other person’s life.
Not being present in the family life can also be a legal ground, and here, for instance, arriving very late at home for a long period of time, without any specific reasons, can be a considered unreasonable behavior for divorce. Not being part of the family’s social circle, made by other relatives and close friends, can also lead to divorce.
Having all types of addictions, such as gambling or drugs, or being work-addicted, can be invoked as reasons to divorce. If you are considering divorcing, you can address to our team of lawyers in Singapore for in-depth information on what else can constitute unreasonable behavior of a spouse.
Judicial separation and marriage annulment in Singapore
Judicial separation is available if one of the spouses does not want to live with the other party, but does not want to apply for divorce either. In this case, a petition with the Court for Judicial Separation must be submitted. Marriage annulment is also possible, but it is advisable to consult a divorce lawyer in Singapore before proceeding with the application because of the extended grounds for annulment.
What is the divorce procedure in Singapore?
Before commencing the divorce procedure, the lawyers in Singapore must obtain all relevant information with the HDB (Housing and Development Board) and the CPF (Central Provident Fund) Board. The second step will be filing a Writ for divorce and a Statement of Claim. Singapore litigation lawyers may file all documents electronically.
After the documents are submitted, an 8 day period of time is granted for the other party to contest the divorce. This period may be extended by the Family Court by issuing a Memorandum of Appearance that has 14 days validity. Then, the Court will arrange a Status Conference or a Pre Trial Conference between parties and the divorce lawyer in Singapore of each party. The divorce trial may take several days. If you need advice on drawing wills, you can contact our wills lawyer in Singapore.
What are the steps for a divorce in Singapore?
The divorce procedure in Singapore will vary based on the type of divorce the parties will file for. The legislation in Singapore defines two basic categories of divorces: the simplified uncontested divorce and the contested divorce. As presented above, after filing the papers for divorce, a period of 8 days will pass, in which one of the parties will have sufficient time to contest the divorce, if applicable. In the case in which the parties will follow the uncontested divorce in Singapore, the following steps will take place:
- the couple will file for the simplified uncontested divorce in Singapore;
- then, they will file a memorandum of appearance, a document necessary in the situation in which both parties agree on the ancillary matters (referring to the manner in which the assets and other properties will be divided, as well as legal matters concerning the custody of the children, where applicable);
- the next document that must be submitted is the draft of consent order;
- after this, the court will issue an interim judgment on the divorce process in Singapore;
- the final decision with regard to the dissolution of marriage will be issued in a period of minimum three months.
A more complex divorce procedure will be carried out in the situation in which the parties do not agree on the separation, in which case they will follow the standard steps for contested divorce. If you are dealing with the possibility of a contested divorce, you can address to our divorce lawyer in Singapore for in-depth advice and legal representation on the steps you will need to go through.
The obligation to hire a lawyer in Singapore for a divorce
According to the legislation in Singapore, couples divorcing are not legally required to be represented by a lawyer, but in the case of a contested divorce, it will be generally necessary, as the parties will need to address specific issues in accordance with the applicable legislation, so that they can prove wrong behaviors and other important matters. If you have completed the steps for immigration to Singapore and you want to divorce, you can also address to us.
According to the law, not being represented by a lawyer is called acting in person, but you should be aware of the fact that even in the case of an amicable divorce, where let’s say, the couple has already agreed on all the aspects and the only aspect to be completed is the divorce procedure itself, meaning that no one needs to be defended, certain legal procedures still need to be done in accordance with the requirements of the court.
Here, one should know the order of the court proceedings, its formal requirements, the documents that must be submitted, the applications necessary, the required format for specific documents, the online steps parties have to complete and other similar technical issues. Considering these, it is always best to address to a lawyer in Singapore, as not having a certain document in the required format may lead to additional court hearings and a delay in the process of divorce, which, in the case of uncontested divorce, can be completed in only 4 months.
What is the divorce rate in Singapore?
The data on divorces in Singapore is updated by the Department of Statistics, which analyzes various indexes related to the social status of the country’s citizens. The available statistics present the evolution of divorces starting with 1980 and they analyze different variables, such as the median age at which local citizens get a divorce, the median duration of a marriage and others, such as:
- in 1980, there were only 1,721 divorces and annulments registered in this country, out of which 1,551 were divorces;
- over the years, the divorce rate increased at a constant pace, and, in 1990, there were 3,150 divorces;
- by 2000, the number of divorces increased at 4,920 and in 2010, it reached 6,969;
- in 2019, the number of divorces reached 7,330 cases and it must be observed that the age at which a person divorces in Singapore also increased;
- thus, if in 1980 a man divorced at the median age of 34, in 2019, the age increased at 43,4 years;
- the median age of women divorcees in 1980 was of 30,8 years and in 2019, it was of 39,3 years.
What are the rights and the obligations of the defendant?
The defendant is the person who was served with the divorce papers from the other spouse. The divorce procedure can be started by only one spouse with or without the knowledge of the other spouse, namely the defendant. At the moment when the defendant receives the divorce papers, normally, he or she should answer to the plaintiff’s request.
In the case in which the defendant refuses to provide an answer and ignores the divorce documents, the plaintiff is allowed to request for a court hearing in the absence of the other spouse. In this particular situation, by filing the Request for Setting Down Action for Trial, the plaintiff will obtain a court hearing in front of a judge, who will hear the case and who will also be allowed to grant the divorce in absence of the other spouse.
On the other hand, the defendant can oppose the divorce documents, meaning that he or she does not want to divorce, or if he or she wants the divorce, the person may still not agree with certain ancillary matters, such as the division of assets, the children’s custody, maintenance and other matters. Here, the defendant must file a Memorandum of Appearance and Defence, and through these documents, the person can obtain the right to a court hearing, where the judge will hear the defendant's opinions on the divorce.
However, in practice, the couples divorcing in Singapore have a more amicable approach to divorcing than in other countries. In most of the situations, persons divorcing in Singapore will file for uncontested divorce, in which both parties agree to the conditions of the divorce, as well as any ancillary matters.
What is the law on child custody in Singapore?
Another aspect that must be dealt with during the divorce process in Singapore is the child custody, in the case in which the couple has children. Our divorce lawyer in Singapore can assist you with in-depth legal advice on the applicable legislation and can present the steps parents should expect, depending on the type of custody that will be selected.
The legislation recognizes four categories of custody: sole custody, in which one parent receives full custody of the child (or children), joint custody, where both parents receive equal rights in raising the children, hybrid order, which represents a type of sole custody where the non-custodial parent has the right of being involved in the decision-making process with regards to important aspects of the child’s life, and split custody, where a parent receives the custody of one or more children, and the other parent, of the other children of the former couple.
The video below offers a short presentation on the divorce procedure in Singapore:
Divorcing couples in Singapore who have children with an age below 21 years old will need to file a document that is named Proposed Parenting Plan, which should provide information on the logistics of raising the children after the divorce is finalized. In the case in which the parties will enter a simplified uncontested divorce in Singapore, then they will file the Agreed Parenting Plan.
The custody of the children will raise the problem of maintenance as well. In Singapore, the former husband generally has the legal obligation to maintain the children with an age of up to 21 years old, but also his former wife. However, the law on the divorce procedure in Singapore stipulates that the spouse is not required to provide maintenance to his former wife if the marriage had a short duration or if the wife has a good standard of living.
Please be aware that the legislation was modified few years ago, with regards to the divorce procedures applicable to those who are married and who have a child (or children) with an age below 21 years old. Thus, divorcing parents who do not have an agreement on the outcome of the divorce and who have not agreed on ancillary matters regarding the maintenance of the children, have to enter a special program.
This is mandatory starting with 21st of January 2018, and divorcing parents have to enter the Mandatory Parenting Program, developed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. You can request more details on this obligation from our law firm in Singapore.
During the divorce procedure, properties and assets are divided between parties and, if children are involved, custody, maintenance and visitation rights will also be decided. Whether you need legal advice or representation in divorce matters you can contact our divorce lawyer in Singapore.