Overview of How to Get a Divorce in Singapore

At I.R.B. Law LLP we know that divorce is a trying time emotionally, however, there are certain formalities and procedures in the Singapore Courts that need to be followed or met. Thus if you are planning to get divorced in Singapore, this article will shed some light on what you can expect and the various requirements that must be met. 


Requirements to file for divorce in Singapore
In order to file for divorce in Singapore, one must first meet the following requirements under sections 93, 94 and 94A of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353):

– You must be a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident.

– You must be domiciled in Singapore when proceedings commence, or must habitually reside in Singapore for three years immediately before proceedings commence.

– You must have been married for at least three years unless it is a case where you have suffered “exceptional depravity or hardship”.

– You and your spouse are not Muslims and are not married under Muslim law.

– If you have children below the age of 14 years old (21 years old with effect from 21 January 2018), you and your spouse are required to participate in the Mandatory Parenting Programme.


Application process for divorce

You will need to file the following documents in the Family Justice Courts in divorce proceedings:

– A writ for divorce, which will also be served on the Defendant personally.

– A statement of claim, which should specify the grounds for divorce (whether of adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or separation).

– A statement of claim, which should set out in detail the facts that support the grounds for divorce in the statement of claim.

– You will also need to pay for the relevant prevailing filing fees.


Requirements to successfully obtain a divorce

In order to successfully obtain a divorce in Singapore, it must be proven to the Judge that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. According to section 95(3) of the Women’s Charter, a marriage has irretrievably broken down only if:

– The defendant has committed adultery and the plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the defendant;

– The defendant has behaved in a way that the plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with the defendant;

– The defendant has deserted the plaintiff for a continuous period of at least two years;

– In an uncontested divorce, the parties have been separated for at least three years; or

– In a contested divorce, the parties have been separated for at least four years.


The divorce proceedings

Civil divorce proceedings in Singapore are split into two stages:

– The first stage involves determining whether or not there should be a divorce.

– The second stage determines the outcome of ancillary matters, such as custody of the children, division of matrimonial assets, and spousal maintenance.


Stage one – Divorce
After the Defendant has been served the papers, he/she must decide within eight days whether or not to contest the divorce.
If the Defendant chooses to contest the divorce, he/she must file a Memorandum of Appearance and a Defence.

If the Defendant does not wish to contest the divorce but wants to be heard on the ancillary matters, he/she must file a Memorandum of Appearance, indicating the issues he/she wishes to have heard.

Even if a divorce is contested, any party may request for counselling sessions with Court counsellors, or a Resolution Conference in the Family Resolution Chambers, in the hope of obtaining an amicable settlement between the parties.
If no settlement is reached, the case goes to Court, and a judge would determine if the divorce is successful. If a divorce is granted, an Interim Judgement of Divorce will be handed down by the judge.

Stage two – Ancillary matters
Both parties must file Affidavits of Assets and Means, detailing, among other things, all their assets and liabilities, income and expenditure. The Affidavits will be exchanged up to three times. If the net value of the estates exceeds $1.5 million, the case will be heard in the High Court instead.

An ancillary hearing date will then be determined, and a Judge will hear matters concerning the ancillary matters. Following that, the Judge will pass his Final Judgement on the ancillary matters heard.

Do you need a lawyer to get a divorce?
Engaging a lawyer for a divorce is not essential, but highly recommended.
Not engaging a lawyer does not excuse a party from complying with the requirements and expected standards of court proceedings. In that regard, it is advisable to engage the help of a lawyer, particularly if you anticipate a contested divorce, which can be complex.
How We Can Help
At I.R.B. Law LLP we have experienced lawyers who have handled simple to complex divorce cases. Our lawyers with their wealth of experienced will be able to assist you in your matter and ensure that the process is handled with the care you deserve. We know that going through a divorce is an emotional process and we want to ensure that you get back up on your feet.
Should you be in a situation where you require our assistance do not hesitate to contact us at +65 6589 8913 or send us an email at hello@irblaw.com.sg.