Are you contemplating divorce in Singapore? While deciding to dissolve a union may be heart-wrenching, it’s crucial to understand that a divorce in Singapore can indeed be a costly affair. Here are some critical questions you should ponder before filing for one.
Who are the Plaintiff and the Defendant?
In divorce in Singapore, either you or your spouse will serve a writ of divorce to the other party. The person filing for the divorce is referred to as the plaintiff, as they instigate the lawsuit against their partner in a Court of Law. Conversely, the party who receives the writ of divorce is the defendant. Familiarity with these terms is critical early on as you’ll often encounter such legal jargon during the divorce proceedings.
How Much Will the Legal Fees Cost Me?
Legal fees for divorce tend to vary based on whether it is an uncontested or contested divorce. The overall cost hinges on the specific circumstances of each case. In contentious or complicated divorces, the involved parties typically file more applications and affidavits. A contested divorce implies that your lawyer would have to dedicate more time to your case, consequently escalating your legal fees for divorce. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your divorce attorney about the expected fees. This consultation ensures that you fully comprehend what you’re committing to and circumvents any shocking revelations when the invoice arrives.
Who Bears the Cost of Legal Proceedings?
In most cases of contested divorces, the cost legal proceedings are usually awarded to the successful litigant. However, any award of costs is at the discretion of the Court. These include costs such as fees, charges, disbursements, expenses and remuneration of the proceedings. Typically you can expect to claim up to two third (2/3) of your legal cost from the other party.
What if I Do Not Have Enough Money for a Divorce in Singapore?
If, by the time you’re undergoing a divorce in Singapore, you don’t have enough money to cover your legal fees for divorce, there’s a possibility to negotiate with your divorce attorney for installment payments. Thus, it would be in your best interest to inquire at the outset about the total costs that the process will impose on you.
If My Spouse Committed Adultery, Will He Have to Pay More?
Not necessarily. Just because one of the parties had committed adultery, it does not mean that he or she will be forced to pay a higher sum than normal for the proceedings. The Courts will also divide the assets under the principle of what is just and equitable, and maintenance will be decided on what the Courts think is ‘reasonable.’
What are Matrimonial Assets?
Matrimonial assets are described as any assets acquired either before or during the course of your marriage that were utilized by both you and your spouse while still together. Assets that have grown and substantially improved during the marriage, either by one or both parties, can also be classified as matrimonial assets.
Examples of matrimonial assets include the marital house, family car, insurance policies, shares, cash savings, the cash balance in the parties’ respective Central Provident Fund Account, and jewelry. All such assets may be divided between the parties in the event of a divorce in Singapore.
Assets received as a gift or inheritance are generally not viewed as matrimonial assets unless your partner can demonstrate that the gift or inheritance has been substantially improved during the marriage or if the gift or inheritance constitutes the matrimonial home.
How Will the Matrimonial Property be Divided?
It would be good if you and your spouse can come to an agreement over how to split the matrimonial property during the pre-trial conference. If the relations are so bad that an agreement cannot be agreed upon, the Court will decide on the matter. They will take into consideration several factors when deciding how to distribute the matrimonial property, we have listed out for you some of the facts below:
- How much each party has contributed to the marriage. This can be in money, property or work towards acquiring or maintenance of the property;
- Needs and welfare of the children if any;
- Agreements between you and your spouse with respect to the ownership and division of the matrimonial assets made due to the divorce; or
- Debts if any, from the marriage or from the benefit of the child.
- Once the Court has ascertained the facts, they may make orders to sell and divide the proceeds of your matrimonial assets, give a grant to one of the party’s the matrimonial home over a certain period, or even paying a sum of money to the other party to name a few.
What is Maintenance and how much should be paid?
Maintenance is the provision of financial support for a person’s living expenses. In Singapore, only the wife and children are entitled to maintenance. There is no legal provision for a husband to claim maintenance from a wife or former wife unless he is ill, or disabled.
In deciding the amount, the Court has to consider, amongst other factors, the following:
- Both you and your spouse’s income,
- Any financial needs, obligations and responsibilities that you and your spouse may have in the foreseeable future;
- The standard of living of the family before divorce
- any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;
- non-financial contributions made both parties such as the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family; and
- length of the marriage
In providing maintenance to your spouse, the Courts will ensure that whatever amount to be paid is reasonable and to your means. In the event, something occurs, and that you may not be able to sustain the maintenance, you can vary the amount to be paid. According to Section 119, courts may vary the terms of the agreement if there are any material changes in the circumstances.