As mentioned in our previous article, divorce cases in Singapore are rising. This article was written in response to users asking us what the divorce procedure in singapore is like, how long it will take, how much it will cost, what the expected outcome is and so on.
We will address all those issues here.
Firstly, there are 2 types of divorce in Singapore : contested and uncontested, To keep things short, contested divorce is where parties cannot agree on the terms of the divorce (e.g division of assets, custody of children etc.)
For muslim divorces (divorce where at least one party is a muslim), divorce proceedings are handled by the syariah court of singapore. The procedure for Muslim divorces is different from civil divorces.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can look at the requirements necessary for a divorce in Singapore. They are :
- unreasonable behaviour
- desertion at least 2 years
- 3 years separation by consent
- 4 years separation without consent
These points have been covered extensively, so to save time, we won’t cover them here.
If your situation fits any of these criteria mentioned above, you can file for a divorce.
What if you don’t meet the criteria above? You can file for a deed of separation. This will allow you to live separately from your spouse, before you begin the divorce proceedings.
To save you time, effort and money in terms of legal fees, talk things out with your partner first to see if you can settle for an uncontested divorce (i.e both parties can agree on the terms of the divorce).
Uncontested divorces take a significantly shorter time to finalize, and costs much lesser than contested divorces. It can be finalized between 4-8 months and can cost from $1500 onwards.
Do note that the exact divorce procedure is longer and contains more steps. We have only included the important parts to keep this article concise.
To file for a divorce, we highly suggest you speak to a divorce lawyer. You may want to opt for the Collaborative Family Practice . The aim of this CFP is to help couples reach an agreement on divorce terms, so as to avoid a long and expensive litigation process.
According to their website, the fees are $428/hour.
Should this not be an option for you, you can proceed to file for the divorce by :
- File a Writ for Divorce
- Statement of Claim
- Statement of Particulars in the Family Justice Courts
There are filing fees for these documents. We suggest you get a Lawyer to file these documents for you.
Once a Judge of the Family Justice Courts finds that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, the divorce will be granted. This granting of divorce is called an interim judgement.
If you are initiating the divorce, you are called the plaintiff. The other party is the defendant.
Ancillary Matters. What is it?
Ancillary Matters refers to things like division of matrimonial assets, custody of children, maintenance etc. You and your partner are required to file Affidavits before the hearing. These affidavits will state your assets and liabilities, income and expenditure.
After the filing of these documents, which is usually done by your lawyer, an ancillary hearing date will be set before the Judge passes his final judgment on the ancillary matters heard.
What factors does the court take into account when dividing matrimonial assets?
- Financial contributions made by each party towards assets
- Non-financial contributions towards welfare of the family, e.g looking after an elderly parent.
- If you have supported your partner to pursue his/her career, that is also considered in the hearings
- Needs of the child
- Financial independence of each party after divorce
- Needs of each party
- Debt Owed. Was debt taken for the benefit of both, individual, or the child’s needs?
- Any pre-nuptial agreements
For matrimonial assets valued at SGD $1.5 million or more, it will be heard at the high court. For amounts below this, it will be heard at Family Court.
There is a 14 day period after the judgement has been given for parties to make an appeal.
Frequently Asked Questions from Users :
- How long does it take to get divorced?
How long divorce takes varies from case to case as it depends on a number of factors such as whether your partner is cooperative, etc. But for uncontested divorces, it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months. For contested divorces, it can go on for more than a year.
- What is the legal cost for uncontested divorce?
Different lawyers charge different prices. But we found that the range can go from as low as $1,200 to as high as $3,500. Again, this amount depends on the divorce lawyer themselves, and factors like children, amount of assets to divide, etc.
- Do I need a Lawyer for my divorce?
No. It is possible to file for divorce without a Lawyer. However, you are still subjected to the same procedures and requirements of the legal proceedings (e.g appearance in court, filing of documents have to be in the right format, etc.), i.e you will be held to the same standards as if you were represented by a Lawyer.
- What is considered ‘unreasonable behaviour?’
Unreasonable behaviour for divorce in Singapore comes in many forms. Some examples include (but are not limited to) verbal abuse, domestic violence, alcoholism, withholding sex, working too much and so on.
Unreasonable behaviour is subjective and varies from couple to couple.
- I see “Women’s Charter” appearing quite often in divorce and family matters. What is it ?
Quoting from the council of women’s organisation website :
“The Women’s Charter is a legislative act that was passed in 1961 to protect and advance the rights of women and girls in Singapore. It is a wide-ranking charter that brings together the regulation of the relationship between husband and wife and the relationship between parents and their children, termination of marriages and division of matrimonial assets. Furthermore, it provides protection against family violence and penalty for offences against women and girls.
Persons married under Administration of Muslim Law Act who are excluded from parts of the Women’s Charter concerning divorce, division of matrimonial assets and maintenance.”
Additionally, it is preferable if you can get a free consultation before settling on a divorce lawyer to see if you two are a good ‘fit’. What this means is that after the consultation, you feel that you trust the lawyer, and have confidence that he/she will help you achieve your desired outcomes.
For tips on getting a divorce lawyer, you can read our previous article here.
If you’d like to discuss legal issues, you can post them on our forums.
Click here if you need any divorce help.
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