Division of Matrimonial Assets in Short Marriages

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DIVISION OF MATRIMONIAL ASSETS IN SHORT MARRIAGES

 

What is the general approach of the courts on division of matrimonial assets in short marriages?

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Division of matrimonial assets in short marriages – Following the landmark judgment in ANJ v ANK, any court in the determination of the quantum of the division of assets should have recourse to the structured approach developed in that case. However, such an approach failed to achieve justice as it did not lead to an equal division of assets in short marriages. The rationale behind this is that a short marriage will inevitably affect the quantum of the financial fruits of the partnership. Thus, the approach of the courts tended to be to put the parties back in the position they were in prior to the marriage.

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DIVISION OF MATRIMONIAL ASSETS IN SHORT MARRIAGES

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It can be glimpsed from the case law on division of matrimonial assets in short marriages that more weight will be given to direction contribution (between  70-80%) and less to indirect contribution (between 20% to 30%).  This means that if the husband had contributed more towards the direct contributions, and the wife had contributed more towards indirect contributions, the division of matrimonial assets will be in favour of the husband as direct contributions will be given more weight.

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Case: ANJ v ANK [2015] SGCA 34

Facts: Duration of Marriage – 9 years, court to adjudicate issues pertaining to the division of matrimonial assets and maintenance.

Held: Suggested a structured approach as opposed to the traditional uplift methodology which was – susceptible to both undervaluation and overvaluation. Undervaluation – if direct contributions used as the prima facie starting point then too much emphasis might be placed on this percentage, and not enough emphasis placed on indirect contributions. Overvaluation – if the court in giving one party an uplift deducted the same percentage points from the other party’s share of direct contributions.

 

The Structured Approach

Step 1: Ratio representing parties’ direct financial contributions towards the acquisition of matrimonial assets

Step 2: Ratio representing the parties’ indirect and non-financial contributions

Step 3: Average of the 2 percentages to derive the overall contribution to the family. This average forms the basis for the division of matrimonial assets.

Step 4: The figure derived in step 3 was non-binding and at this stage, the courts have the power to make adjustments as and when necessary e.g. if parties’ collective direct contributions did not carry the same weight as that of parties’ collective indirect contribution or to take into account the other factors enunciated in s 112 of the WC – para [26] “there will also be instances where one component necessarily assumes greater importance than the other on the facts and correspondingly greater weight should be attached to that component as against the other. In cases that fall within the latter category, the court should tweak or calibrate the “average ratio” in favour of one party to reflect what would be a just and equitable result in the circumstances of each case. To do so, the court must engage in a non-mathematical balancing exercise to determine the appropriate weight that should be accorded to the parties’ collective indirect contribution as against their collective direct contribution. We stress that the balancing exercise should be non-mathematical in nature, and should instead be based on the court’s sense of what is fair and just. This is fact-sensitive inquiry where context is paramount.

 

The Courts identified 3 broad categories that should be considered in attributing the appropriate weight towards the parties’ collective direct and indirect contributions:

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(i) length  of marriage

(ii) size of matrimonial assets

(iii) extent and nature of parties’ indirect contributions (note at para [27(a)] Indirect contributions in general tend to feature more prominently in long marriages (Tan Hwee Lee ([18] supra) at [85]). Conversely, indirect contributions usually play a de minimis role in short, childless marriages (Ong Boon Huat Samuel v Chan Mei Lan Kristine [2007] 2 SLR(R) 729 at [28]).

 

 

Case: AZZ V BAA [2016] SGHC 44

Facts: Short marriage of 4.5 years, large asset pool, parties’ had domestic help and more weightage given to direct financial contributions (70%) as opposed to indirect financial contributions (30%)

Held:

At para [163] The factors that could shift the “average ratio” include:

  1. Length of Marriage – more prominent in long marriages, de minimis in short marriages.
  2. Size of Matrimonial Assets – if pool of assets available for division is extraordinarily large and all of that was accrued by one party’s exceptional efforts, direct contributions are likely to command greater weight as against indirect contributions.
  3. Extent and Nature of indirect contributions – in particular the engagement of domestic help naturally reduces the burden of homemaking and caretaking responsibilities and to that extent. The weight accorded to parties’ indirect contributions may be correspondingly reduced.

At para [163] Courts referred to ANJ v ANK and the 3 broad categories in which the ratio of 50:50 is not applicable. The courts held that the ratio for direct contributions to indirect contributions should be 70% : 30% respectively. The reasons for this decision:

(a) this was a relatively short marriage of four and a half years;

(b) the pool of matrimonial assets is large;

(c) the parties kept their finances largely separate throughout the marriage; and

(d) the parties had the help of domestic staff (eg, maids and a driver) which to that extent reduced the weight to be attached to the parties’ indirect contribution.

 

At para [164]    The parties’ average percentage contribution as derived from their direct and indirect contribution in relation to the matrimonial assets is therefore as follows:

  Wife Husband
Direct contributions (weighted at 70%) 36.3%

(25.4%)

63.7%

(44.6%)

Indirect contributions (both financial and non-financial) (weighted at 30%) 55%

(16.5%)

45%

(13.5%)

Average percentage contributions (weighted 70:30) 41.9% 58.1%

 

 

 

Conclusion

It appears from case law that direct contributions will be given more weight in short marriages.  However,  no two family law cases are alike.  You should seek legal advice as to what your division of matrimonial assets is likely to be.

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ABOUT PKWA FAMILY LAW

At PKWA Law, our team of Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore family lawyers by respected independent legal publications such as Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review, Global Law Experts and Doyle’s Guide to Singapore Family Lawyers. 

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RELATED ARTICLES:

PKWA LAW wins landmark Court of Appeal case on division of matrimonial assets

PKWA Law Establishes Family Law Scholarship at Singapore Management University

 

SINGAPORE MANAGEMENT UNIVERSITY LOGO

PKWA LAW LOGO

PKWA LAW establishes Family Law Scholarship for law students at the School of Law, Singapore Management University

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As one of Singapore’s leading family law firms, we pride ourselves on our social responsibility and being a responsible corporate citizen.

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We are pleased to announce that in partnership with the  Singapore Management University, PKWA Law have established a scholarship which is open to law students at the School of Law, Singapore Management University.

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Established in 2017, the award motivates the exceptional students’ talents from the School of Law (SOL) at the Singapore Management University and to spur them to greater heights of academic excellence.   The award “The PKWA Law Prize for Top Student in Family Law”  provides recognition for the top student in Family Law, an elective course offered by School Of Law at SMU.

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The award will be presented at a University-level event.

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ABOUT PKWA FAMILY LAW

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PKWA LAW PRACTICE LLC is a full service Singapore law firm with 30 years of history and more than 100 employees.  PKWA LAW is a leading law firm in Conveyancing and Family Law.

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PKWA Law was recently ranked as one of Singapore’s top SME companies in 2017 in the “30th Singapore 1000 / SME 1000 Awards”. This is an annual award organised by DP Information Group and Ernst & Young and supported by IE Singapore, SPRING Singapore, Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA), Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and the Singapore Business Federation.

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At PKWA Law, the Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore Family and Divorce Lawyers by legal publications such as Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review, Global Law Experts and Doyle’s Guide to Singapore Family Lawyers.

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How Long Does It Take to Get A Divorce In Singapore?

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE?

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How long will my divorce case take?  How long does it take to get a divorce in Singapore?  This is a frequent question many divorce clients ask.

 

The good news is that Singapore Family Justice Courts are very efficient and pro-mediation.  The result is that divorce cases are usually concluded within a fairly quick time.

 

For Uncontested Divorces (where both parties agree to a friendly and mutual divorce),  you should get Interim Judgment (provisional divorce) within 1 month of filing the papers.

 

For Contested Divorces (where both parties cannot agree on a divorce and ancillary matters), the divorce should take – on average – about 1 year.

 

Even for these Contested Divorce cases, only a small percentage go all the way to trial.  At PKWA Law, a majority of our divorce clients settle their cases without going for trial.  The settlement typically takes place after we have examined financial documents, salary slips, proof of expenses, list of assets and parenting plan.  We study them to determine what our clients can realistically get if the matter goes for trial.

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The official statistics from the Family Justice Courts show that in 2016, 74% of divorce cases were settled within the year they were filed.  This compares favourably to 46 per cent in 2012.

 

There are many reasons why couples settle half way.   The most common reasons are:

 

  1. Divorce fees are naturally more expensive if you don’t settle.
  2. Divorce litigation is stressful.
  3. To spare the children the agony and stress of seeing their parents fight out in court.
  4. There is no guaranteed result if you litigate all the while.
  5. A compromise is better than an ugly court victory, which can strain ties beyond the divorce.

 

The cases where we find it is difficult to settle are due to various reasons.  Chief among them are:

a. where parties feel strongly about having care and control of the child.

b.  where the assets are very substantial.

c.  where assets are hidden.

d.  where one party has unrealistic expectations.

e.  where one party has committed adultery and the aggrieved spouse wants his/her day in court.

 

So, if you are thinking of divorce in Singapore, do know that the divorce cases in Singapore are concluded very quickly.  And in 80% of these Contested Divorce cases, there is a good chance that you and your spouse are likely to reach an amicable settlement.

 

On a final note, it is important that you have a lawyer who adopts a constructive and conciliatory approach to family law disputes.  It is a happy state of affairs that most family lawyers in Singapore are constructive and conciliatory.  As we always like to say at PKWA Law – “A good divorce lawyer is calm.  He encourages settlements, not arguments.”

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Related Articles:

How much are my Divorce Fees?

How long does it take to get a divorce in Singapore?

What is a Final Judgment in Divorce?

What is Final Judgment in divorce proceedings?

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WHAT IS A FINAL JUDGMENT IN DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS?

 

A Final Judgment in divorce proceedings marks the formal end of your marriage.  It concludes the divorce case.

The Final Judgment comes 3 months after you have obtained Interim Judgment (provisional divorce).  Your divorce lawyer will have to apply for the Final Judgment for you.

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You can remarry

When you have obtained Final Judgment, you are legally entitled to remarry.   You will need to produce the Interim Judgment and Final Judgment to prove that your divorce is finalised.

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You can sell your property

If there is a court order for the matrimonial property to be sold or transferred, that transaction will usually take place after the Final Judgment.  As an illustration, suppose your HDB flat is to be sold and the sale proceeds divided equally.   You will be able to sell the HDB flat only after Final Judgment as HDB and the buyer will want to see the Final Judgment.  Usually, you are given sufficient time to sell or transfer the property after Final Judgment.  If you are unable to sell the matrimonial property within the time specified in the Final Judgment, do not worry.  So long as the buyer accepts the situation, the sale will usually go through.

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Custody of Children

Once Final Judgment is issued, the court order relating to children custody, care and control and access will also have to be implemented.   Suppose that you have joint custody, care and control of your child and weekend access granted to your spouse.  After Final Judgment, your child will start living with you, and you will start making day to day decisions for your child.  Your spouse will be entitled to the weekend access.

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How long does it take to obtain Final Judgment?

In Singapore, as the Singapore courts encourage parties to mediate to resolve their divorce issues (especially with a view to reducing the impact on children), divorce cases are handled quite speedily.   The average time taken for final judgment to be granted has been reduced by a quarter from 155.2 days in 2012 to 114.6 in 2016.   Hence, on average, your divorce should conclude within a year in Singapore.

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UNCONTESTED DIVORCE FIXED FEES by PKWA LAW

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Our Uncontested Divorce Fees –  One of the Most Affordable Fees in Singapore:

$1,500 all in

$2,500 all in

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divorce fixed fees

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WHY CLIENTS CHOOSE US .

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  • Affordable, fixed fees –  Our fees are among the most affordable in Singapore.  If your divorce is uncontested, our fees are priced clearly at $1,500 or $2,500 depending on your situation. Our fees are listed clearly on this page and we guarantee this price.  With our Fixed Fee Divorce Packages, you get peace of mind as you will know exactly how much you are paying.
  • Excellent Reviews – We get very good reviews from our client.  Read some of our clients’ reviews at Client Testimonials.
  • We handle everything – from instruction to conclusion of the divorce.
  • One of Singapore’s largest family law firms – A divorce is probably one of the biggest life issues you have to face.  Get peace of mind when you use an established and reputable family law firm.
  • Proper legal advice – our lawyers will advise you whether your divorce settlement is fair. We will also structure the settlement for you.
  • Quick & professional –  We will be able to get you the divorce (Interim Judgment plus all the settlement terms) within 3 to 4 weeks, with the Final Judgment to follow 3 months after that.

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WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT?

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Call us at 6854-5336 for a free 1st consultation.  We will advise you whether you qualify for an Uncontested Divorce. .

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Probate & Probate Fees – Everything You Need to Know

SINGAPORE PROBATE LAWYERS – Probate & Probate Fees – Everything You Need to Know

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WHAT IS PROBATE?

Probate is an official recognition by the Singapore Family Justice Court that a deceased’s Will is legally valid, and the Executor has been granted authority to administer the deceased’s estate.

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Do I need probate?

In almost all cases – yes. You will need a Grant of Probate as most deceased persons will leave behind assets, including bank accounts.

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Who can apply for probate?

The executor of a Will is the person entitled to apply to the court a grant of probate. The Executor of a Will is the person named by the deceased to administer his Will.

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How do I apply for Probate in Singapore?

To obtain Grant of Probate in Singapore, you need to file the necessary papers at the Singapore Family Justice Court.

At PKWA LAW, we normally are able to obtain Grant of Probate in about 1 month for straightforward applications.

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What are the fees for Grant of Probate?

PKWA LAW is one of the best known and largest family and probate law firms in Singapore. We have been helping clients obtain probate for 3 decades.

Our probate fees are among the cheapest and lowest because of economies of scale. Our fees are as follows:

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What is the Executor’s role?

The executor “stands in the shoes” of the person who has died and looks after their estate for the deceased person. The executor’s role varies with the type of estate of course, but in general the executor:

  • Finds out details of assets and debts
  • Engages a probate lawyer to apply to court for Grant of Probate
  • Collects the deceased person’s assets
  • Pays any outstanding taxes and debts, and then
  • Distributes the estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will.

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When do the beneficiaries get their inheritance?

Once the executor obtains a grant of Probate, the assets must first be collected before any payment from the estate is made. Funeral, testamentary and administration expenses have priority over all other payments.

Once this has occurred, the executor may pay the debts of the estate.

When all debts have been paid the executor may then distribute the remaining assets amongst the beneficiaries according to the Will.

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If there is no Will

If there is no will, the estate has to be handled by an “administrator” rather than an executor. The administrator applies for “Letters of Administration” instead of probate. The person who is administering the Letters of Administration does the same job as the Executor in probate. The administrator thus gathers the assets and distribute them to beneficiaries.

Since there is no Will to say who should inherit the estate, it goes to the next-of-kin according to a formula set out by in the Intestate Succession Act.

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WHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING ABOUT SINGAPORE PROBATE LAWYERS

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“It is great to engage PKWA as they handled matters professionally, are fast and reliable. Matters are communicated in simple and easy-to-understand terms minus the legal jargon… in preparing the Letters of Administration for me.”

Leng Hwa Maria Low

December 2017

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“I’m pleased with their prompt actions. As such, I sought their service again to settle my parent’s letter of administration.”

Jo C

November 2017

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“Just to give our feedback that Jane has been so wonderfully attentive to my mother. She’s fantastic helper and very dedicated to what she’s doing! Lawyer Lim Chong Boon also went the extra mile to help. Thanks to you and your teams in PKWA!”

Ms L

July 2015

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RELATED ARTICLES:

Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration

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Mandatory Parenting Programme Extended

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Mandatory parenting programme extended to divorcing parents with children below 21 years old from Jan 21

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Mandatory parenting programme extended to divorcing parents with children below 21 years old from Jan 21 2018.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is extending the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) to include divorcing parents with children below 21 years old. This will be applicable to all parties who wish to file for divorce on or after Jan 21, 2018. This programme does not apply if parties file for a simplifed Uncontested Divorce.

The Mandatory Parenting Programme is a consultation session for parents with minor children before they file for divorce. It is designed to encourage divorcing couples make informed decisions that prioritise the well-being of children.

This is a two-hour session by counsellors from Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs). All parents with children below 14 years old (children below 21 years old with effect from 21 January 2018) are required under the Women’s Charter Section 94A to attend this programme if they file for divorce without reaching an agreement on divorce and parenting matters.

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Q: Who does the Programme apply to?

A: The Programme applies to you if:

  • You intend to divorce and have a child, or children, who are under 14; and
  • You have not been able to come to a formal agreement with your spouse on any of several key matters (such as division of the marital assets, child custody and access, or maintenance for either party).

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Q: Are there any exceptions?

A: You need apply to the Ministry for Social and Family Development to be exempted from the Programme. Parents who lack mental capacity are also exempted from attending.

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Q: Who conducts the session and when is it held?

A: The session lasts for 2 hours and is conducted by a counsellor from a Divorce Support Specialist Agency. It needs to be completed before the divorce writ is filed.

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Q: What does the session cover?

A: The session aims to help parents understand, and prepare for, some of the legal and practical issues surrounding parenting after divorce. These include finances, housing, custody and access, co-parenting, and the impact of divorce on children.

The Programme is separate from the existing requirement for families with children under 21 to undergo compulsory counselling and mediation after the divorce writ is filed.

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Q: Do I have to pay for the session?

A: No, it’s free (and private – you don’t have to attend with your spouse, although you can choose to.)

Divorce – Financial Matters

financial matters - ancillary .

If you and your spouse have agreed to a financial settlement, or if you and your spouse failed to come to an agreement and the court has to make its decision on financial matters, it will be recorded as a binding Court Order. The financial settlement is usually regarding properties, bank accounts, CPF money, investments and maintenance.

The Court Order that deals with financial matters is sometimes recorded as part of an Interim Judgment and sometimes in a Court Order.

The Court Order or Interim Judgment that deals with financial matters is a binding Order issued by the Court and parties must comply with the terms.

Financial settlement are referred to as ‘ancillary relief’ because they are financial relief ‘ancillary’ (or supplementary to) the divorce itself.

If you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement on divorce and agree on issues relating to children and financial matters, then you are entitled to file for a Simplified Uncontested Divorce. The advantage of this is that your divorce case is concluded quickly, you pay substantially less legal fees and there is none of the stress involved as compared to a contested divorce.

Our fees for a Simplified Uncontested Divorce is either $1,500 or $2,500 depending on your situation. See our Uncontested Divorce Fee Packages below.

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If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, and you file for divorce, the divorce is termed as a “Contested Divorce.” It frequently happens that half way through the Contested Divorce, you and your spouse finally reach an agreement. This agreement will then be recorded as a Court Order.

If you and your spouse are not able to reach an agreement, then the court will make a decision. The court makes it decision on financial matters based on the factors set out in section 112(2) of the Women’s Charter and also based on case law.

Another major factor will be the length of the marriage – the longer the marriage, the greater likelihood that assets will be divided 50-50 even if the wife did not contribute financially to the assets. Generally speaking, marriages which have lasted less than 6 years are considered short. Marriages that have lasted 7 to 14 years are seen as falling into a ‘medium’ category and any marriage which lasted more than 15 years may be considered longer marriages.

Uncontested Divorce Fixed Fee Packages

UNCONTESTED DIVORCE SINGAPORE

MOST AFFORDABLE DIVORCE FEES IN SINGAPORE -UNCONTESTED DIVORCE FEES

 .As one of Singapore’s biggest family law firms, we offer Uncontested Divorce fees that are are among the most affordable divorce fees  in Singapore.   Our fees are all priced in, so you pay only one amount that is clear and transparent.

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 Are you filing for divorce?

If you are looking for a quick, simple, and affordable divorce, then you should look into filing your Uncontested Divorce through our HDB Hub office.

Our lawyers are specialists in obtaining uncontested divorce in Singapore while saving you expensive (and unreasonable) legal fees.  Our fees are among the most affordable divorce fees in Singapore.

We specialise in quick and easy uncontested divorces in which both parties agree on all the terms of the divorce and only want to file the paperwork to process a quick uncontested divorce through the family court system in Singapore.

We will help you to obtain an uncontested divorce in Singapore  by filing all the necessary paperwork in court so that your divorce can be granted as quickly 1 month (Interim Judgment) and made final in another 3 months (Final Judgment).  The divorce obtained is quick, easy and affordable.

This is the fastest that a divorce can be processed in the Singapore Family Court.

Our Uncontested Divorce Fixed Fee Packages – Among the Most Affordable in Singapore

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  • $1,500 all in  (No Children, No Property & No Maintenance)

  • $2,500 all in  (With Children, HDB / Private Property & Maintenance)

       *Our fees are subject to GST.  

 .divorce fixed fees

 

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CONTACT US TODAY AT TEL 6854-5336 OR BY USING THE FORM BELOW.

Is There A Time Period To File For Divorce Based On Adultery?

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Is there a time period to file for divorce based on adultery?

If you have found out that your spouse has committed adultery, and you intend to rely on that as a ground for your divorce, you must file your divorce within 6 months if you are still living with your spouse.

The reason is simple – if you continue to live with your spouse for more than 6 months after discovering your spouse’s infidelity, the law presumes that you have condoned the adultery.

Of course, the legal presumption may not be right in every case.  More often than not, a spouse continues to live together with the straying spouse because of the impact leaving may have on the children.

In such a situation, you can only rely on adultery if your spouse strays again.  Alternatively, you may have to consider filing for divorce based on other grounds such as his unreasonable behaviour.

The standard of proof for adultery is quite high. You will need to show a confession or more commonly, a private investigator’s report. If you do not have the necessary proof for adultery, you can still file for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour.

It sometimes happens that your spouse may commit adultery within 3 years of getting married. In such a case, you may have to wait until you have been married for 3 years before filing for divorce unless you can get the court’s special permisssion to file for divorce within 3 years. Such permission is rarely granted and you should be prepared to wait until your marriage crosses 3 years.

 

Related Articles:

Adultery under Singapore Divorce Law – 10 things to know