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UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS BEFORE DECIDING

EXPAT DIVORCE

Family Law issues covering expatriate clients, have a tendency to cross more than one country. In the case of an international divorce for example, some questions which come to mind will be:

  • - where should I file for divorce?
  • - do I meet the jurisdiction criteria in Singapore?
  • - which jurisdiction is advantageous to me?

In some cases, deciding where to divorce can have a significant influence on the divorce process and its outcome. Sometimes, divorce cases will incorporate aspects that may be subject to different international jurisdictional legislations, prompting you to ask;

  • - what happens to our matrimonial property overseas?
  • - can my child be relocated without my consent?
  • - can a Singapore Court Order apply in another overseas court?
  • - what happens to my immigration status?

As a result of these considerations, comparing jurisdictions in regards to your divorce, custody and support issues and even which court to apply under, can have a big impact on the eventual outcome of the case.

Our International Divorce Lawyer, Ms Gloria James will take you through the entire divorce process in Singapore as well as help to guide you to the best decision that is of advantage to your circumstances.

At GJC Law, we have the experience, know-how, and are equipped with the necessary resources and manpower to handle the complexities of an international divorce with strong, effective representation.

"Strategic insight with a global overview is an essential skill required when dealing with expatriate clientele. At GJC Law, we offer our clients, practical & cost effective solutions”
If you have questions concerning your personal situation, please email Ms Gloria James at gloria@gjclaw.com.sg or Call us at +65 6337 0469
Below, is a list of commonly asked questions:
 
Q
Can an Expat Divorce in Singapore?
A
Yes you can, provided you satisfy the following requirements:-
  • Married for more than three years
  • Habitually resident in Singapore for more than 3 years
  • Has a Ground for Divorce (fault or no-fault basis)
 
Q
How long is the procedure to divorce in Singapore?
A
About 5 to 6 months (ie 2 to 3 months to Interim Judgment and 3 months to Final Judgment.) The latter is a mandatory period to wait. However, this can be abridged to 1 week if there are compelling reasons for the immediate closure and need to obtain Final Judgment soonest possible. To proceed with this, an application has to be made at the time of the divorce hearing and the party asking for it, has to be present for the divorce hearing.
 
Q
Is it cheaper to divorce in Singapore?
A
Yes. You can take advantage of the exchange rate and you are charged in Singapore Dollars. If it is a divorce agreed by both parties and ancillary issues are agreed upon, then Fixed Divorce Fees kick in.
 
Q
What if parties can agree on the divorce but not the ancillary issues?
A
Parties can explore mediation and to attempt a global settlement. If that fails, parties will have to proceed with contested Ancillary Hearing and a judge makes the Final Order.
 
Q
What if halfway through the Divorce proceedings in the Singapore Courts, my spouse packs up and leaves the country with the children?
A
Yes you can, provided you satisfy the following requirements:-
  • If divorce papers have not been served on the spouse, an application has to be made to serve the divorce papers through personal service or substituted service.
  • If divorce papers have been served and if Interim Judgment to be granted/or granted, then an application can be made to proceed with only the Divorce and to obtain Final Judgment on the Divorce. Ancillary issues to be dealt with at the country where the spouse and children are residing at since they have returned to that country.
 
Q
When can I remarry?
A
Only upon obtaining the Final Judgment.
 
Q
What happens to my spouse’s status or my status?
A
You are both deemed as divorced, and if your spouse holds a Dependent Pass, it will not be valid and he/she needs to return to their country or they can apply for an employment pass to remain in Singapore.
 
Q
Battle of the Courts’ jurisdictions: Why is Singapore better?
A
You pay for one set of legal costs as it is a fused legal system and not two sets (Barrister & Solicitor), as in United Kingdom (UK), or elsewhere.
 
Q
What if I have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is it recognised here in Singapore?
A
Yes. Based on the case of TQ v TR (2009) SGCA 6, a Singapore Court of Appeal decision.
 
Q
What if I do not satisfy the 3 years’ residency, can I divorce?
A
You can`t unless you can show the intention to be domiciled in Singapore, ie to make Singapore your home and to live here, period. And you have to satisfy the test as stated in the case of (2005) SGDC80 – DIDIER VON DANIKEN v SANAA VON DANIKERN BORN ELKOLALY, reference to Wong Phui Lun Joseph v Yeoh Loon Goik (1978) 1 MLJ 236.
 

ie domicile of choice – 2 elements to be shown, ie

  • Fact of residence
  • Fact of intention of permanent or indefinite residence
 

The onus is on you to prove that you have acquired Singapore domicile. Evidence to be shown that there is no contingency every plan to return to home country, cut links with home country, took job in Singapore, shifted assets to Singapore, cash in bank here and not overseas, taken Singapore Permanent Resident/ or applying Singapore Citizen status. That you treat Singapore as a home.

To speak with our Family Law Specialist call us on +65 6337 0469 or contact us online
 
Q
What if I have been here for more than 3 years but married for less than 3 years, can I get a divorce?
A
Yes, get your lawyers to file an application in Court to seek the Court’s permission to file for divorce.
 
Q
What reasons must I show to the Court if I seek the permission?
A
  • That you have suffered exceptional hardship during your marriage; or
  • Your spouse has behaved with exceptional depravity ie behaved unusually bad.
 
Q
What is the Law in relation to separation and maintenance?
A
A separation is an agreement executed between parties. Even if there is no separation agreement, that does not mean that the court cannot assist in determining the issues between parties.

As for maintenance, the Wife is entitled to file for maintenance even if parties are not divorced. This is as provided for under the Women’s Charter. In Singapore, there is no specific Family Law Act, but an Act that is called the Women’s Charter. As you can see from the name, the law governs’ the women’s rights, issues on maintenance, divorce, family violence, and child issues and property division.

For more information on expat divorce, please refer to www.expatdivorce.sg

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