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DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE - THE MYTHS

DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE - THE MYTHS

  1. All divorce cases end up in Court

While the Court would always be involved in a divorce, you and your spouse need not go to Court if the divorce is uncontested and both of you are able to agree on:

  • The fact to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
  • Maintenance for the wife;
  • Children issues (custody, care and control, access and maintenance); and
  • The division of matrimonial property / other matrimonial assets.

Even if you and your spouse are initially unable to agree on the above issues and the divorce is contested, both of you would still attend mediation sessions together before the matter proceeds to trial. If mediation is successful (as is commonly the case), a full hearing in Court would no longer be necessary.

2. The mother always gets the children

There is no starting presumption that the mother will be awarded sole custody, care and control of the children. While the Court would commonly grant the mother care and control of the children if she had been their primary caregiver, both parents are usually awarded joint custody. If that is the case, the mother would decide on the day-to-day matters affecting the children (e.g. what the children eat and wear), but both parents would have to make major decisions relating to the children together (e.g. decisions relating to medical, religious or educational issues).

Be that as it may, the mother may not even be granted care and control of the children if the court is of the view that it is in the interests of the child if the father has care and control.

Further, the court may award shared care and control to both parents when it considers that such an order is in the best interests of the children, and parties have demonstrated that they are able to cooperate in parenting the children.

3. Matrimonial assets are always divided equally

Similarly, there is no starting presumption that matrimonial assets would be divided equally.

Under Section 112 of the Women’s Charter, the Court will divide the matrimonial assets in a just and equitable manner and would have regard to the specific circumstances of the case, including the following:

  • the extent of each party’s direct financial contributions to purchasing, improving or maintaining the matrimonial assets;
  • any debt or obligation incurred by either party for the parties’ joint benefit or for the benefit of the children;
  • the children’s needs;
  • the extent of each party’s indirect non-financial contributions to the welfare of the family (e.g. doing the housework, looking after the children or aged parents);
  • any agreement between the parties regarding the division of matrimonial assets in the case of a divorce;
  • any period of rent-free occupation or other benefit enjoyed by one party in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party; and
  • the giving of both financial and non-financial assistance or support by one party to the other (e.g. assistance or support that helps the other party carry on his or her business).

In short marriages, the Court tends to divide the assets in a similar proportion to the direct financial contributions of the parties. Contrastingly, indirect non-financial contributions of the parties are given great weight in long marriages.

4. Husbands come away “second best” financially after divorce

As outlined above, the Court considers a wide range of factors when deciding how to divide the matrimonial assets. Thus, it is entirely possible for a man to walk away with a greater proportion of matrimonial assets than his wife.

Further, there is no presumption at law that a man would be ordered to pay maintenance to his former wife. In fact, a woman may be ordered to pay maintenance to her former husband who is unable to maintain himself due to any physical or mental disability or any illness.

The court would, as far as it is practicable, endeavour to place the parties in the same position that they would have been in had the marriage not broken down. In determining the amount of maintenance to grant (if any), the court would have regard to the specific circumstances of the case, including the following:

  • the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  • the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  • the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
  • the age of each party and the duration of the marriage;
  • any physical and mental disability of either party;
  • the contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home and caring for the family; and
  • the value of any benefit which, by reason of the divorce, a party would no longer be able to gain (e.g. pension).

ABOUT PKWA FAMILY LAW

LIM CHONG BOON,  divorce lawyer at pkwa 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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