Feeling Trapped in a Marriage?

Feeling Trapped in a Marriage?

Marriage should be a wonderful institution where two people agree to share the rest of their lives in love and trust forever, where this union survives the test of time, thus making marriage a beautiful thing. There are only a few things more touching than seeing an aged couple taking a stroll through the park, laughing and chatting while they walk hand in hand.

When Marriage Fails

Unfortunately, as most divorce lawyers will cynically tell you, marriages don’t always last. In fact, a cold hard look at the statistics shows that the number of divorces and annulments have been slowly creeping up throughout the years. In fact, according to Singstat, there has been a “significant shift” in the age profile of divorcees, with an increase in the number of older couples getting divorced.


Relationships are complicated to navigate and sometimes, the person you thought you were marrying may turn out to be an entirely different person from the one you were dating. After the “honeymoon goggles” have worn off, maybe the hot, romantic stud you thought you were marrying turns out to be less Ryan Gosling and more Seth Rogan.


Maybe your patience is wearing thin after he starts keeping late nights out with his “friends” and coming back in the wee hours of the morning.


Maybe that sweet young thing you thought you were so lucky to end up being with has taken to screaming at you daily for no good reason.


Sometimes, when the ideals of marriage don’t hold up, you want to get out of a bad situation as quickly as possible.

How long does it take before I can get a divorce in Singapore?

In Singapore, you need to have been married for at least three years before you can get divorced. However, divorces may still be granted in certain exceptional circumstances within the three years, for example, if one party has suffered exceptional depravity or hardship.


In such cases, the party who initiates the divorce petition must prove such depravity or hardship. Initiating the divorce petition can be quite a troublesome process, and evidence has to be produced in court to show proof of this depravity or hardship.


The following examples are some of the situations that may justify an early divorce:
1.    Extreme mental distress.
2.    Spousal abuse.
3.    Unusually cruel adultery (regular adultery would not suffice to justify divorce within three years of marriage). A pregnancy that arose from such adultery could also be considered sufficient justification.
4.    Homosexual tendencies in either party.

What other options do I have if I want to leave my spouse in less than three years?

If you have been married for less than three years, and are unable to prove exceptional depravity or hardship during your marriage, there are still other options available.


1) Annulment of marriage


One option is to consider applying to annul the marriage instead. However, an annulment can only be granted if the marriage is void or voidable in law. There are some situations in which a marriage will be considered void or voidable in law, and you may wish to speak to a good divorce lawyer to find out more about whether annulment proceedings are available to you.


2) Separation


In a separation, couples remain legally married to each other but are allowed to determine their terms of separation in a flexible way. Separation can be the way forward when divorce is not an available option. Compared to a divorce, it is relatively easier for couples to commence on separation proceedings. There are a few different types of separations, and they can be seen as follows:-


Informal Separations


Couples are free to separate informally by living apart any time they wish to do so. Couples who are looking to end their marriages start off first with informal separations, before eventually moving onto a formal separation. An informal separation agreement is a cheap way to get the ball rolling and requires little administrative costs.


Formal Separations


If the parties are serious about intending for the separation to lead to a divorce eventually, they may consider a formal separation. A formal separation is one where the couple agrees upon a Deed of Separation, a document that defines the terms and conditions of the relationship during separation. The Deed of Separation usually will have terms and conditions relating to how the separation will be achieved. The terms and conditions will usually take into account the same ancillary issues a court would in a divorce application, such as child custody, care and control, access to the children, division of wealth, maintenance, etc.


Judicial Separations


Judicial separations are the most costly and complicated form of separation, and the court requires evidence of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage on the grounds of divorce (i.e. adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour). For this reason, judicial separations are not frequently seen in practice, as there are also minimal advantages in going down this route.




While it may be possible to get a divorce after three years, this usually isn’t the easiest option to go for after taking into account the difficulty of illustrating depravity or hardship. Sometimes, it doesn’t take a spouse’s extreme cruelty to realise that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with that person, and it doesn’t always take three years to come to that conclusion.


However, there are options outside of divorces such as annulment and separation, and you should consider talking to a good divorce lawyer about these options if your marriage hasn’t hit the three-year mark yet.


After all, as Groucho Marx once said, “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?”.

How we can help

At I.R.B. Law, we have experienced lawyers who are well versed in divorce and annulment proceedings. We will be able to guide you through and explain to you throughout each and every stage of your divorce or your annulment. We also understand that going through such an event in your life is difficult and emotional.


So contact us to receive advice on how your divorce proceedings can best be handled so that you can focus on getting back up on your feet in life. Our first consultation is usually free as we wish to focus on you and not on your wallet. So don’t hesitate and reach us at hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at 6298 2537 and schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers today.
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