SYARIAH DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Syariah Divorce process in Singapore is different from Civil Divorce. There are a number of issues that you need to take note of before commencing divorce. At I.R.B. Law we have experienced Syariah Lawyers who are well versed and highly experienced in these matters.
What do I need to do before a Muslim divorce?
Before you commence for a Muslim divorce, you will need to attend counselling sessions under the Syariah Court’s Marriage Counselling Programme (MCP). It is mandatory for a Muslim couple to undergo marriage counselling before they can apply for a divorce. The marriage counsellors will attempt to work with individuals to explore strategies that are helpful in overcoming their concerns and difficulties. Ideally, you would patch up with your spouse after the session but in the event that you still wish to pursue for a Muslim divorce, you are required to inform the counsellor of your decision and the Syariah Court will follow through accordingly. Location for the session and dates will be sent again in another letter to you after your initial application. These sessions may range from one session to months depending on the complexity of your situation. The following are a list of Syariah Court approved counselling agencies:
- PPIS Family Service Centre (West) 6561 3462
- Jamiyah Counselling Centre 6743 1211 (Ext 23)
- Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) 6416 3960
- National Helpline (Family Service Centre) 1800 – 222 0000
The counsellors will also run through a proposed parenting plan for both you and your spouse in the event either of you decide to push for a divorce. The welfare and safety of your child is of utmost importance to the Courts. This can have severe negative outcomes for your child in the long run. Just because you are no longer attached with your partner, you must understand that you still hold a responsibility as a parent to be a good role model to your child. You can find a copy of the form here: https://www.syariahcourt.gov.sg/syariah/back-end/Attachments/ProposedParentingPlan.pdf Couples who are referred for counselling under MCP are not required to pay any fee but are required to attend their session on the scheduled date.
How do I commence divorce proceedings?
To commence divorce proceedings in Singapore, there are several documents that you must prepare and file to the Syariah Court. The first of these documents that you will need to file is an originating summons. An originating summons is a document which you service or send to your spouse to commence legal action, in this case, to summon your spouse for divorce proceedings. You could either serve the documents to them personally or use a substituted service by way of a lawyer. The second document you will need to prepare at the start of the divorce is a completed case statement (Form 7 for male plaintiff / Form 8 for female plaintiff). A case statement will specify the ground or grounds for divorce on which you are relying upon, whether it be through talak, khuluk, taklik or fasakh. You will also be required to bring the following documents when filing for a divorce:
- Identity card/Valid Passport which is not expired
- Original/Extract Copy of Marriage Certificate or Revocation of Divorce Certificate issued by the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM)
- Children’s Original Birth Certificates
- Latest CPF statement showing the Public Housing Withdrawal details
- Latest CPF statement showing the balance in your Ordinary, Special, Medisave, Retirement and Investment accounts
- Latest HDB standard query reply (applicable to HDB flat owners/permitted occupiers only)
- Latest HDB/Bank statement on outstanding housing mortgage loan
- Property statement (applicable to private property owners only)
Mediation will be the first step of your divorce process. Mediation is your first court session and both you and your spouse are required to attend the session even though you have engaged a lawyer. What do I need to do in mediation? The mediation session will involve you and your spouse to settle on the divorce and ancillary matters such as custody of the children, division of matrimonial property and maintenance matters such as nafkah iddah and mutaah. There will be a mediator conducting the session to ensure that the session goes as amicably as possible. It would be in your best interest to prepare documents such as the estimated values of property based on recent valuations by HDB, latest CPF statements showing the Public Housing Withdrawal details, balance in your Ordinary, Special, Medisave, Retirement and Investment accounts to name a few so as to share with your spouse the maintenance and proper valuations that you require. If there is a mutual agreement, the mediator will prepare a settlement agreement. Once you have paid the registration of the divorce and the consent court order, both you and your spouse will be required to appear before a President of the Syariah Court for his approval to record the settlement agreement as a consent order. However, if both parties did not come to an agreement, the mediator may put the session to a close and will reschedule your case to move forward to a Pre-Trial Conference.
A pre-trial Conference is intended to prepare for both parties for the divorce hearing. Your lawyer can attend on your behalf if you had engaged one. In the event that the Registrar finds that there is a possibility of a settlement, the Registrar will refer the case back to the mediator. However, if there are to be no settlement, the Registrar will ask both parties to file their respective affidavits leading to the hearing. These documents can be found in the Syariah Court website at https://www.syariahcourt.gov.sg/syariah/front-end/Default.aspx?pid=M17. It is best to leave the filing of these documents to your lawyer as they would be better equipped to fill the necessary documents.
The Syariah Court hearing will require both you and your spouse to be in attendance, together with your lawyers, if any, as this is mandatory. Matters such as custody of your child and the division of matrimonial property will be heard by the President of the Syariah Court and they will make the necessary judgement and orders. Maintenance matters such as the amount to be paid for nafkah iddah and mutaah will be evaluated and decided by the Courts. The more acrimonious the divorce is, the longer the proceedings will take, with some spanning to a year or more before the final judgment of divorce will be granted. In the event that you do not agree with the decision of the Court, you may file an appeal to the Appeal Board within 30 days from the date of the decision. Do seek legal advice from your lawyers to ensure that your appeal is validated and substantiated before filing for one. The Appeal Board is located at Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), Singapore Islamic Hub, 273 Braddell Road, Singapore 579702.
Collection of Divorce Certificate and Order of Court
Once the Court has been satisfied with your divorce case and granted an order on the divorce and ancillary issues, you will be issued with the Divorce Certificate. The certificate will only be released after the completion of the nafkah iddah period, regardless of your gender. The Order of Court for the divorce will be released seven working days after the date of the Order. The following Chart will help you better understand the whole process of a Muslim Divorce
How can we help you?
That being said, filing for a Muslim divorce and the 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. At I.R.B Law we have experienced lawyers who are well versed in Civil and Syariah divorce proceedings who will be able to guide you through and explain to you throughout each and every stage of your divorce. So contact us so that we can advise you on your matter and help you focus on getting back up on your feet. Our first consultation is usually free as we wish to focus on you and not your wallet. Don’t hesitate and reach us at [email protected] or call us at 6589 8913. 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.