Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
When you feel that your marriage has come to an end, it can be difficult to sift through the practicalities of filing for divorce as you deal with the emotional aspect of it all. However, organising your thoughts and materials for the divorce is important. This information on divorce in Singapore can help you get started in the process.
First, you need to be sure that you are eligible for divorce through your family lawyer or the Family Justice Courts. If you were married under Muslim law or are Muslim, you are not eligible. If you or your spouse are a Singapore Citizen, and you’ve lived in Singapore at least three year before you file, and you’re domiciled in Singapore, you are eligible.
Under the Women’s Charter, section 94, you can’t apply for divorce if you’ve been married fewer than three years, unless you have a special case in which the courts grant you permission.
If your spouse has committed adultery, and you cannot live with them, you can file for divorce, but proving this can be tricky. It’s not as easy as it might seem. If your spouse has behaved such that you cannot live with them, and/or if your spouse agrees to the divorce and you both have been separated at least three years, you can file for divorce. If your spouse doesn’t agree to the divorce, and you’ve been separated from each other for four or more years, you can also file for divorce.
To start the divorce proceedings, you can choose to file a writ for divorce and then a statement of particulars and a statement of claim yourself or through a divorce attorney. A statement of claim spells out the grounds for the divorce. The statement of particulars lays out the details about the grounds.
During divorce proceedings, the needs of children under 21 years old are considered. You will need to make the court aware of plans you and your spouse have for their care in the future. Also, if you are still living with your spouse, you will need to inform the court of your housing plans.
Then the court reviews your documents and determines if it will accept them. The person who is not filing for the divorce (the defendant) is then sent a notice of action telling them that the divorce has been filed.
When the defendant agrees to all the details and documents related to the proceedings, they inform the court, and a Status Conference then takes place six weeks later. This is a private affair. If the defendant contests any claims of the filling, then both you (assuming you are the one filing for the divorce) and the defendant visit with a marriage counselor. Should the counseling not solve the problems, then both you and your spouse file affidavits of evidence.
A judge then decides if the divorce will go on as contested or uncontested. When this happens, an interim judgement is passed, and a three-month waiting period is required to allow for a possible reconciliation. This is the end of the first stage of the divorce process.
The last stage of the divorce process is the ancillary process. During this stage, issues of custody, maintenance, property, etc. are determined, and the judge will then agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken down. The divorce is then final when the judge provides a divorce certificate.
If either you or your former spouse want to marry after that, a three-month waiting period is required. Should you be the defendant in a divorce case, you can let the court know that you agree to the divorce and state that you only want to be heard on the ancillary matters. If you want to stay married, you have to defend the divorce by filing a Memorandum of Appearance and a Defence.
Contested divorces and ancillary matters can take a long time and be very expensive. Most divorces are completed amicably without coming in front of a judge. The Family Resolutions Chambers can help you and your spouse reach a satisfactory arrangement. Ask about a Resolution Conference with a judge in the Family Resolutions Chambers through your attorney or the Assistant Registrar at the Status Conference or during the case conference stage of the divorce. You also have the right to ask for counselling.