“I am getting a Divorce.” These are big words and comes with big implications.
Family law is complex. We still have many people who think that you can get divorced within 3 years of marriage (no, you can't) and that a “deed of separation” will automatically result in a default divorce without any further papers being filed (no, it doesn’t).
Here are some initial advice from some popular articles written by me. Click on the heading to go to the relevant article. There are hundreds of articles in http://www.pkwalaw.com/news.html and in www.sgdivorcelawyer.sg, so if you wish to read more, go there - I am sure you will find something useful for you.
To qualify for a divorce, you must have been married for at least 3 years. You must also either be a Singapore citizen or PR or have lived in Singapore for 3 years.
Under Singapore law, there is only one ground for divorce - irretrievable breakdown in marriage.
What is “irretrievable breakdown” can be proven by one of five facts:
b. unreasonable behaviour.
c. 3 years separation with consent.
d. 4 years separation
e. desertion of at least 2 years.
There are many misconceptions and myths about divorce, such as the common mistaken notion that the person who is “innocent” in the marriage will get more assets. Another popular misconception is that the mother will always win physical custody of the children.
If you wish to know more about divorce, read our Guide to Getting a Divorce in Singapore.
Divorce lawyers usually charge by hourly rates. This means that you pay according to the amount of time the lawyer spends on your case. Some lawyers also charge a fixed or cap fee. This means that your fees are fixed or capped no matter how long the case takes. It may make more sense for you to hire a lawyer who fixes his fees as you know exactly how much your fees are going to be. This way, you dont blow a hole in your budget.
In my opinion, you should hire the divorce lawyer who is more interested in helping you to mediate your case, instead of slugging it out in court. The trend in Singapore is to have divorce lawyers who are pro mediation. Judges here prefer family lawyers who are committed to resolving your divorce in a respectful and amicable manner, instead of one who quarrels and fights over every single point.
At PKWA LAW, we like to say that the best divorce lawyers are those who encourage settlements, not arguments.
You should always be aware of some dirty tricks that litigants pull in a divorce case. It is not uncommon for a spouse to hide his/her assets, even though Singapore law is very clear that this is not allowed. Some spouses will also cancel the spouse’s Dependent Pass, so that the spouse cannot remain in Singapore during the duration of the divorce process and cannot see the children. It is therefore best to understand these tricks so that you know what to do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
LIM CHONG BOON is Head of Family Law at PKWA Law. His 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 PKWA LAW at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation.
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