Have You Both Agreed on the Terms of the Divorce?
When seeking advice from a Lawyer regarding your divorce, they will usually ask you if you and your spouse have already agreed to the terms of the divorce. They usually do this to find out whether your divorce is going to be a Contested or an Uncontested Divorce.
If you and your spouse have come to an agreement that the marriage has ended and you both have decided how to split the marital assets and who will get custody, care and control of the children your divorce will be an uncontested divorce.
However, if both you and your spouse are unable to agree on any issues, then your divorce may become a contested divorce.
Uncontested Divorce in Singapore
An Uncontested Divorce as the name suggests means that parties are agreeable to the divorce and they enter into the proceedings knowing that they both wish to end the marriage, they have also agreed upon how the marital assets are divided and who will get Custody, Care & Control of the Child.
Contested Divorce in Singapore
A contested divorce, on the other hand, takes place when the parties are unable to agree on matters relating to the divorce.
These disagreements arise either from the fact that they are getting divorced or the from the terms of the divorce. Ancillary matters such as child custody, maintenance, or the division of matrimonial assets play a huge role in how difficult and exhausting a contested divorce can be. Contested divorces tend to get complicated due to the constant disagreements between spouses.
It is important to take note that the procedure and costs for Uncontested Divorce and Contested Divorce vary significantly.
Preparations for Divorce in Singapore
Preparations for Divorce in Singapore
In filing for any divorce, you will be required to serve a Statement of Claim, Writ of Divorce and a Statement of Particulars onto your spouse before any Court proceedings can begin.
In an uncontested divorce, your spouse would not dispute the claims contained in the documents as he or she would have agreed to the claims beforehand. He can then file for a Memorandum of Appearance which will include a statement indicating that he agrees to the divorce. The Memorandum of Appearance must be completed within eight days of sending out the Writ of Divorce.
It is important to note that in a Contested Divorce there are some issues that your spouse may dispute.
Disputing the breakdown of the marriage
There are several scenarios in which your spouse could contest the divorce. First of which is if they wish to remain married to you. They will file a Memorandum of Appearance together with a Defence, stating reasons to disprove your assertion regarding the breakdown of the marriage and they will state that the marriage has not broken down irretrievably yet.
Disputing the reason for the breakdown of the marriage
If your spouse agrees that your marriage has broken down irretrievably but denies that it was their fault, they will file a Defence & Counterclaim against you citing a different reason to the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. You will then have 14 days from the date of service of the Defence and Counterclaim to file a Reply and Defence to Counterclaim.
Disputing ancillary matters (Maintenance, Child Custody, Division of Assets)
If the disagreement is due to ancillary matters, your spouse may file a Memorandum of Appearance stating which matters they are contesting.
What happens if there is a Dispute?
If within 6 weeks from the filing of the Writ of Divorce, you and your spouse are unable to set down the case for hearing, there will be a Status Conference. A Status Conference is a meeting with the Judge so that he or she can determine the status of the divorce petition. Only after the Status Conference can the divorce move to the hearing stage.
What happens at the Divorce Hearing
The first stage of a divorce hearing is different for Contested and Uncontested Divorces in Singapore.
Uncontested divorce hearings are usually held in chambers and would not take more than several minutes to conclude. Once the hearing has ended, the judge will grant you and your spouse an interim judgement if they are satisfied with the grounds for divorce applied.
In a contested divorce, you and your spouse will be required to undergo a case conference. This case conference is intended for you and your spouse to be prepared and ready for the contested divorce hearing which will be held in an open court.
A contested divorce hearing is very different from an uncontested divorce hearing. Depending on how complicated the contested divorce case is, the trial may last for several days. Both parties, together with the witnesses involved will be crossed examined based on their affidavit. Depending on how satisfied the Court is with the grounds for divorce and the outcome of the case, the Court will then proceed to grant an interim judgement or provisional order for divorce.
The second stage of a divorce would involve resolving ancillary matters. Ancillary matters are issues regarding the care and custody of children, maintenance of the wife/children and matrimonial assets.
In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse would have had already willingly agreed any terms involving ancillary matters prior and as such would have filed a Draft Consent Order, which will manage all aspects of the ancillary matters related to the termination of your marriage.
In a contested divorce, often you will be at logger’s heads with your spouse. If a settlement is not possible, both parties will be required to file an affidavit of Assets and Means. The Court will consider all the factors involving the needs of your children, financial assets between you and your spouse before deciding on an ancillary judgement.
Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final
After three months from the date you received your Interim Judgement, and if orders on the ancillary matters have already been made, you (typically through your lawyers) may proceed to apply for the Certificate of Making Interim Judgement Final.
This will conclude your divorce proceedings, and there would no longer be any further Court proceedings.
Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
Contested divorces will be a long and arduous legal battle for you. The things that you and your spouse might contest over are usually serious matters, which is why a good divorce lawyer’s help is necessary.
That being said, uncontested divorces will cost considerably lesser than contested ones with the whole process being relatively shorter. A contested divorce can range from $5,000.00 to anything upwards above $20,000.00.
In fact, you do not need to personally attend Court hearings if it is uncontested as your lawyers will attend on your behalf. Not having to attend Court hearings personally will allow you to save precious time that could have been spent with your family or loved ones.
How We Can Help You
Filing for a divorce and divorce procedures in Singapore are delicate issues and may be too technical for you to understand alone. We understand that going through such an event in your life is difficult and emotional. At I.R.B. Law LLP we have experienced divorce lawyers who are well versed in family law and divorce proceedings in Singapore. We will be able to guide you through the process and explain to you each 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 typically 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 6589 8913 to and schedule an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers today.
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