Divorce while living overseas


If you have registered your marriage in Singapore, but are presently living abroad and considering filing for a divorce, there are some issues to consider.


Dissolving a marriage registered in Singapore with foreign divorce orders

It is possible to use a foreign divorce order to dissolve your marriage in Singapore. You may be able to obtain a foreign divorce order by fulfilling the foreign country’s requirements for divorce.

The foreign divorce order must be from a court of competent jurisdiction, and has to be recognised in Singapore. The foreign divorce order will only be recognised in Singapore if:

– The foreign divorce order was granted by a court of the domicile of one of the parties;

– The foreign divorce order was granted by a court that exercised jurisdiction on the same basis as a Singapore court would have; or

– There is a real and sufficient connection between the court granting the foreign divorce order and one of the parties to the divorce.

A recognised foreign divorce order will allow you to dissolve your marriage in Singapore. After the marriage has dissolved, both parties may proceed with ancillary proceedings in Singapore to resolve issues such as child custody, the division of assets, and maintenance.


What if I wish to file for a divorce overseas and my spouse wishes to file for divorce in Singapore?

There may be times where you wish to file for divorce overseas, and your spouse wishes to file for divorce in Singapore. This could be due to, among other things, the potential for there to be different outcomes between the two different jurisdictions which might favour a party over the other.

If so, you may wish to apply for a stay of the proceedings in Singapore, which would suspend the divorce proceedings in Singapore, pending the outcome of your divorce proceedings abroad. In deciding whether or not to grant such a stay, the Singapore court will consider issues such as where the couple’s children live, or where the couple’s assets are held.


What if I wish to file for divorce in Singapore?

If you wish to file for divorce in Singapore, despite living abroad, it should be noted that the Singapore court must first have jurisdiction to hear your case.

Section 93 of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353) provides that the Singapore courts will only have jurisdiction if either of the parties to the marriage is:

– Domiciled in Singapore at the time of commencement of the proceedings; or

– Habitually resident in Singapore for a period of three years immediately preceding the commencement of proceedings.

Singapore citizens are presumed by the court to be domiciled in Singapore unless the contrary is proven.

If your spouse has filed or intends to file for divorce proceedings abroad, you may also need to apply to the foreign court for a stay of the foreign divorce proceedings, and ensure that your spouse does not stay proceedings in Singapore.

After having done so, you will be able to carry on with the divorce proceedings in Singapore.


How Can We Help You

Commencing a divorce is a 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 and explain to you how you are able to protect your interest.

Contact us today to receive advice on how your matter may be handled. 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.