To determine whether you can and should apply for divorce in Singapore, it may be helpful to start by considering these three questions:
Do I qualify for divorce under Singapore law?
For your marriage to qualify for divorce under Singapore law, you and/or your spouse should be a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident, or have lived in Singapore for the past 3 years. You should be married for at least 3 years or to have obtained Leave of Court to commence divorce proceedings before 3 years of marriage.
What are the grounds for divorce?
There are five main grounds for divorce: adultery, spouse’s unreasonable behaviour, desertion 3 years’ separation with consent and 4 years’ separation. The ground for divorce chosen may impact when you can file for divorce in Singapore and the evidence you need to produce.
Adultery: You may file for divorce as soon as the infidelity is known. You must produce evidence of the act (or intention of the act), such as photographs, videos, texts, email exchanges, etc.
Unreasonable behaviour: You may file for divorce as soon as an incident of unreasonable behaviour has taken place. Evidence of such act (or even failure to act that amounts to unreasonable behaviour) must be produced.
Desertion: If your spouse has left you against your wishes, you will have to wait for an unbroken period of two years before filing of divorce. Evidence may include the deserting spouse’s intention and physical separation.
Separation: If you and your spouse have been living separately, or still live together but are unable to conduct yourselves consistent to their marital relationship, you will have to wait for 3 years if your spouse agrees to the uncontested divorce or 4 years otherwise. You will need to produce evidence of both of your intentions to end their marriage and be apart.
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How do I protect my rights?
The divorce process may be contested or uncontested. Regardless, you should first take time to review your rights and responsibilities relating to issues such as child custody, maintenance (child and spousal) and property rights, as well as any other issues that you may need to address such as costs.
“These are issues that your spouse may not agree on,
which could complicate the divorce process.”
For the uncontested divorce process, spouses need to have agree on the grounds for divorce and all ancillary matters such as the custody care and control of the children, division of matrimonial assets, and maintenance.
“Uncontested divorce is the most time and cost effective way to get a divorce.”
Even if parties are unable to agree on all terms, before proceeding to a contested divorce, you and your spouse may wish to consider the possibility of mediation to explore amicable resolutions.