In Singapore, married couples are not allowed to commence divorce proceedings within the first three years of their marriage. However, there may be exceptional circumstances that allow for the marriage to be dissolved within the three year period. These include being granted a divorce if one party has suffered exceptional depravity or hardship, or getting a marriage annulled.


Getting A Divorce Within The First Three Years Of Marriage

Section 94 of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353) prevents the filing of divorce proceedings until three years have passed since the date of the marriage. However, an exception to the three-year rule may be granted if you can adduce evidence that the marriage has resulted in you having suffered “exceptional hardship” or if your spouse has been “exceptionally depraved”.

Examples of exceptional hardship or depravity may include:

– Extreme mental distress.

– Spousal abuse.

– Adultery in exceptional circumstances that justifies an early divorce (as opposed to regular adultery, which is insufficient to justify departing from the three-year rule), such as:

– Adultery that results in pregnancy;

– Multiple instances of adultery, with multiple partners; or

– Adultery with the family maid or a relative or close friend of the spouse.

– Homosexual tendencies in either party.

It should be noted that in deciding whether or not to grant an exception to the three-year rule, the court will consider the interests of any children in your marriage and the probability of a reconciliation between you and your spouse by the expiration of the three years.


How Does Someone Get a Marriage Annulled

If you are still within the first three years of your marriage and would like the marriage dissolved, but are unable to prove “exceptional hardship” or “exceptional depravity”, an alternative to getting a divorce could be to getting the marriage annulled. However, it should be noted that a marriage will only be annulled if the marriage is void or voidable by law.

The grounds for a marriage to be void, under section 105 of the Women’s Charter, are:

– Muslim marriages registered or solemnised under the Women’s Charter;

– Polygamous marriages;

– Underage marriages;

– Marriages between close relatives;

– Marriages between people who are already married to other people;

– Marriages of conveniences;

– Homosexual marriages;

– Marriages not properly solemnised in Singapore; and

– Marriages celebrated outside Singapore, but are invalid for lack of capacity or by the law of the place in which it was celebrated.

The grounds for a marriage to be voidable, under section 106 of the Women’s Charter, are:

– Unconsummated marriages owing to the incapacity or wilful refusal of one party to consummate it;

– A lack of valid consent from one party to the marriage;

– At the time of the marriage, one party to the marriage was suffering from a mental disorder of such a kind or to such an extent to be unfit for marriage;

– One of the parties was suffering from venerable disease in a communicable form at the time of the marriage;

– One of the parties was pregnant by some other party at the time of the marriage.

It should be noted that while marriages that are void will be invalid from the beginning of the marriage, voidable marriages continue to exist until a party to the marriage applies to Court to have the marriage declared void. The court can refuse to grant the annulment of a voidable marriage, for reasons including if the party seeking to annul the marriage fails to prove his/her case or if granting an annulment would be unjust to the other party.


How Can We Help You

Filing for a divorce or an annulment 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.

 Contact us today to receive advice on how your divorce proceedings can be 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 hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at +65 6589 8913 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers today.