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DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE – 2 STAGE PROCESS

PKWA Law, divorce lawyer singapore

There are two stages to every divorce case in Singapore.

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The first stage

The first stage is the divorce itself and the second stage deals with ancillary issues such as custody of children, maintenance and division of assets (commonly referred to as “ancillaries”)

During the first stage, the Court will deal with the marriage itself. That means the Court will decide whether the divorce has been granted. If so, the marriage is regarded as dissolved (legally terminated).

If the Judge finds the marriage to be irretrievably broken down, an Interim Judgement will be granted.  This marks the completion of the first stage of your divorce proceedings.

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The second stage

The second stage of the divorce is the ancillaries.  Here are a list of issues and the factors that the court takes into consideration when deciding on ancillary issues.

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What is a “matrimonial asset” that can be divided by the Family Court upon a divorce?

Whether a property is a matrimonial asset depends on whether it is acquired (obtained) before or after marriage and whether or not it is a gift or inheritance:

(a) Any asset (property or thing) acquired by either or both parties after the date of the marriage is a “matrimonial asset”. Matrimonial assets may include items such as landed properties, stocks and shares, money in fixed deposits and other bank accounts, vehicles, businesses, jewellery, furniture, paintings, artwork etc;

(b) Any asset acquired by either or both parties before the date of the marriage is a matrimonial asset provided:

  • it has been ordinarily used or enjoyed by either spouse or the child(ren) while the parties are residing together, for shelter or transportation or for household, educational, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes; or
  •  it has been substantially improved during the marriage by the other party or by both parties to the marriage.

(c) Any asset acquired by way of a gift or inheritance, whether before or after the marriage, is not a matrimonial asset, unless either of the following conditions is met:

  • the gift or inheritance is a matrimonial home (property the couple or the family resided in during the marriage); or
  • the gift or inheritance has been substantially improved by the other party, or by both parties to the marriage

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What are the factors for division of matrimonial assets

The court will have to divide the matrimonial assets between the parties in just and equitable proportions by having regard to the following factors:

(a) the extent of the contributions made by each party in money, property or work towards acquiring, improving or maintaining the matrimonial assets;

(b) any debt owing or obligation incurred or undertaken by either party for their joint benefit or for the benefit of any child of the marriage;

(c) the needs of the children (if any) of the marriage;

(d) the extent of the contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home or caring for the family or any aged or infirm relative or dependant of either party;

(e) any agreement between the parties with respect to the ownership and division of the matrimonial assets made in contemplation of divorce;

(f) any period of rent-free occupation or other benefit enjoyed by one party in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party;

(g) the giving of assistance or support by one party to the other party (whether or not of a material kind), including the giving of assistance or support which helps the other party in the carrying on of his or her occupation or business.

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Other factors

Other factors the court may also consider, in an appropriate case, are:

(a) the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(b) the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(c) the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;

(d) the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;

(e) any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;

(f) the contributions made by each of the parties to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family; and

(g) the value to either of the parties to the marriage of any benefit (for example, a pension) which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage that party will lose the chance of acquiring.

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No automatic 50-50 division

The court will not automatically divide the matrimonial assets “half and half”. The court will make an order to divide the matrimonial assets in such proportions as it thinks is “just and equitable” (i.e. what is fair), having regard to the above factors.

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Factors for wife maintenance

The court will consider all the circumstances of the case, including the following factors, when deciding whether the order should be made and the amount of maintenance that should be paid to the wife:

(a) wife’s financial needs;

(b) income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of parties;

(c) any physical or mental disability that wife might have;

(d) the age of the parties and the duration of the marriage;

(e) the contributions made by each spouse to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family;

(f) the standard of living enjoyed by the wife;

(g) the conduct of you and your spouse, if the conduct is such that the court is of the opinion that it is inequitable to disregard it.

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Other factors in maintenance

In addition, the court will consider:

(a) the value of any benefit to either spouse that will be lost as a result of the dissolution of the marriage; and

(b) the court will try to place the parties in the same financial position as they would have been if the marriage had not broken down and each party had discharged his financial obligations and responsibilities towards each other.

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The Final Judgment

If all the ancillary matters are agreed, of if the court has made a decision on the ancillary matters, the divorce case comes to an end, and the Final Judgment will be issued. Once the Certificate of Final Judgment (Divorce) has been extracted, you and your spouse will need to adhere to the Consent Order/Order of Court by, for instance, selling the flat, ensuring that you pay/receive maintenance and giving access to the children, as agreed between you and your spouse or as decided by the Court.

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ABOUT PKWA FAMILY LAW

PKWA FAMILY LAWYERS

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At PKWA Law, our team of Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore family and divorce lawyers by respected legal publications such as Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, Straits Times, Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review and Doyle’s Guide.

Contact us at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only, and to enable you to learn more about our firm, our services and our lawyers.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.  Readers of this website should engage a lawyer to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

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