Sometimes the Heart and the Mind just weren’t meant to be
It’s a Friday afternoon, and you are having lunch together with your colleagues. As they munch down their meal, the conversation slowly shifts to their weekend plans.
From the “I’m going to do some furniture shopping with the hubby” boasts to the “My husband bringing me on a cruise tomorrow for our anniversary,” you can only put up a wry smile to your colleagues as they continue to brag their healthy spousal relationship.
There you are, grudgingly dragging yourself home for the weekend, not looking forward to meeting your husband or wife. You are no longer happy with your marriage. You feel as if the two of you have lost the spark for one another and can no longer find it bearable to live with them.
As you rummage your bag for the house keys, a thought crosses your head; You can’t take this anymore. You want to be separated from your spouse.
Divorce in Singapore
Often, when clients wish to file for a divorce, they are unaware that they may not have met the eligibility criteria to file for a divorce. For someone to apply for a divorce, they must either be Singaporean or have been habitually resident in Singapore for a period of three (3) years prior to commencing divorce proceedings.
To divorce in Singapore, you have to prove to the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To prove this, you may rely on one or more of the following grounds: adultery, desertion, unreasonable behaviour, or separation. In most cases, separation is often the preferred option when neither party is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.
Some couples prefer to opt for a legal separation due to their religious beliefs or moral values against divorce. Regardless of the reasoning, there are only three methods to initiate separation in a Court of Law:
- 1) Informal separation, without a written document;
- 2) Formal separation, with a written document; and
- 3) With a judgement of judicial separation.
Couples are free to separate without a written document by living apart any time they wish to do so. Usually, married couples who are looking to end their marriages start with informal separations, before moving on to a formal or judicial separation. This separation must be one made of a ‘physical separation.’
‘Physical separation’ does not necessarily mean that the couple no longer live under the same household. There could still be separation as long as there is a clear line drawn between you and your spouse Things, like carrying out spousal duties such as cooking, cleaning, fetching your partner home from work or having sexual intercourse, will be proof that the marriage is still alive and as such, an informal separation will not be deemed to have occurred.
Further, the separation cannot be due to a separation of necessity. For example, if your partner is overseas for an extended period of time be it due to work or studies, it cannot be deemed as separation. Unless it can be proven that the overseas separation was made with the explicit intention to separate, it cannot be considered that an informal separation has taken place. Ultimately, an informal separation must be an active choice by you or your spouse or one that is mutual.
If both you and your spouse are serious about separating with the intention to eventually divorce, you may consider a formal separation. A formal separation will include a Deed of Separation.
What is a Deed of Separation?
A Deed of Separation is a legal document executed by you and your spouse stating any terms and conditions of the relationship during the duration of the separation. A Deed of Separation will include the exact date when you and your spouse separated, living arrangements and the agreement that the both of you will live separately from each other.
A Deed of Separation will also contain terms on financial or matrimonial arrangements. For example, matters on who gets possession of the matrimonial home, who gets custody and the regularity that your spouse will have access to the child will be stated in the Deed. This must, of course, be mutually agreed upon between the two of you. It is advisable to hire a good divorce lawyer to aid you in drafting the Deed of Separation.
It must be noted that a Deed of Separation can only be executed with the consent of both you and your spouse. Separately, the Deed of Separation need not be registered with any government department or court. That being said, the Courts retain the power to set aside any terms of the Deed of Separation that they deem as improper or unfair.
Signing a Deed of Separation does not change the legal state of your marriage –both you and your spouse will remain legally married to one another. What the Deed of Separation does is formalise the separation between you and your spouse and any further agreement between the two of you. It also sets the terms of the divorce when proceedings are subsequently commenced (if at all). In effect, it prepares parties for the realities that come with a divorce. On the flipside, it also becomes beneficial in that it gives time for both you and your spouse to consider reconciliation instead.
Another option available to you is a Judicial Separation which can be filed pursuant to Section 101(1) of the Women’s Charter. Evidence of an irretrievable breakdown of marriage on the grounds of divorce is required (e.g., adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour). It is preferable not to pursue a Judicial Separation as they are mostly expensive and complicated, with minimal advantages.
Advantages of a Judicial Separation
Processes such as obtaining a Protection Order may be made simpler if the Judicial Separation is based on domestic violence. Regardless, the process of obtaining a protection order has been simplified over the years and has been made more affordable. As such, this advantage of a Judicial Separation is of limited value
Also, under section 375(4) of the Penal Code, a Judicial Separation will ensure that any sexual act committed against you and your spouse that is not consensual, will be considered as rape. Thus, any attempt to force sexual intercourse with your wife can result in your arrest, and you can be charged with rape.
It must be noted that regardless of how troubled you are in your marriage; this method of separation will only provide a momentary relief. You will still be deemed legally married to your spouse, and the Judicial Separation will only release you from your marital obligations.
A separation can either end in reconciliation or divorce. Ideally, the best scenario is that you and partner patch up during the separation period. But not everyone will arrive at this conclusion and would still prefer to continue for a divorce. On the completion of three (3) years of separation (with your spouse’s consent), or four (4) years of separation (without your spouse’s consent), you can proceed to divorce your spouse.
How Can We Help You
Filing for a divorce and divorce procedures in Singapore are delicate issues and may be too technical for you to fully understand alone. We understand that going through such an event in your life is difficult and emotional. Worry not, at I.R.B. Law; we have experienced divorce lawyers who are well versed in family law proceedings in Singapore. We will be able to guide you through the process and explain to you each and every stage of your divorce or your separation.
Do contact us to receive advice on how your divorce proceedings can be best handled so that you can focus on getting back up on your feet. Our first consultation is usually free as we wish to focus on you and not on your wallet. Do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 6298 2537 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers today.
The information contained in this article is provided for general information only and may not reflect current status in relation to applicable law, cases, settlements or judgements. Nothing contained on this website or article is intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be construed as I.R.B Law LLP agreeing to provide legal services to you. You acknowledge and agree that your use of this website shall not create a lawyer-client relationship with I.R.B Law LLP.