What does getting a divorce mean for you?
A divorce is the legal procedure that ends a marriage.
All civi divorces in Singapore are heard in the Family Justice Courts. When the Family Justice Courts grants you a divorce, it will issue an Interim Judgment of Divorce. This is the end of the first stage of your divorce proceedings.
Are you eligible to apply for a divorce in the Family Justice Courts?
You can apply for a divorce in the Family Justice Courts if you or your spouse:
What this means is that a foreigner can apply for a divorce in Singapore so long as the above requirements are met. You can also apply for a divorce even if you got married elsewhere.
There is only one legal ground for divorce and that is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. This is set out at section 95 of the Women’s Charter.
What are the legal requirements for a divorce?
- that your spouse has committed adultery, and you find it intolerable to live with him or her;
- that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her;
- that your spouse has deserted you for at least two years;
- if your spouse agrees to the divorce, that you and your spouse have been separated for at least three years;
- that you and your spouse have been separated for at least four years.
These requirements are set out at section 95(3) of the Women’s Charter.
There is no requirement that you must use a lawyer, although it is not easy to do the divorce yourself.
How can you apply for a divorce?
You would need to file the divorce papers. They consist of the Writ for Divorce, Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars and other documents. For an explanation of some of the various documents that are typically filed, please read here.
If you are the person applying for a divorce, you are the plaintiff. Your spouse is the defendant.
What if you can't find your spouse?
You can still file for divorce even if you cannot locate your spouse. The process may take a little longer. if you are facing a situation where your spouse has disappeared, you may wish to read more here.
Can you oppose the divorce filed by your spouse?
One golden rule of advice - if you do not wish to divorce, it is not a good idea for you to simply ignore your spouse’s divorce application. You must read carefully the divorce papers that have been served on you, and follow the proper procedures and timelines. If you simply ignore the divorce case, the Court may decide the case without you. You may find that your marriage has been legally ended, and that certain orders have been made on the children, property and maintenance. These orders will still be binding on you even if you were not at the Court hearing.
If you wish to remain married to your spouse, you must defend the divorce. You must do this by filing a Memorandum of Appearance and your Defence. The court will hear the case and decide based on the evidence whether your spouse has proven that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
If you wish to be heard on the ancillary matters, the Family Justice Court will also hear you and your spouse’s arguments. This will take time and may be costly in terms of legal fees.
Is there a way for both spouses to come to an agreement so that we can avoid a contested divorce?
Yes. There are 2 ways you can avoid a contested divorce.
The first way is that you and your spouse both mutually agree to a divorce and reach an agreement on all ancillary matters BEFORE you file for divorce. This is called a Simplified Uncontested Divorce. You can obtain Interim Judgment within 1 month and Final Judgment 3 months after that. You need not attend court. The costs are affordable.
The second way is that you and your spouse can reach a settlement during mediation at the Family Justice Courts. The Family Justice Courts have many programmes to help divorcing couples to reach an amicable settlement so that parties are spared the trauma that comes with a contested divorce.
At PKWA Law, we have a simple way for you to understand our fees for an friendly, uncontested divorce - our fees are either $1,500 or $2,500 all in. Our fees are below:
When can you remarry?
You can only remarry after you have obtained Final Judgment. Your lawyer will apply for the Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final after the Court has dealt with all the ancillary matters in your divorce, or for three months, whichever is later.
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.
Contact us at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation.
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