Can You Divorce

You must have been married for at least 3 years before filing for a divorce.

Singapore Courts Must have Jurisdiction

To file for a divorce in Singapore, you must satisfy the following requirements:

Jurisdiction

: At least one party should either be:

  • A Singaporean citizen,
  • Domiciled in Singapore (which means treated Singapore as a permanent home) or
  • Have resided in Singapore for at least 3 years immediately before starting the divorce proceedings.

Marriage Duration

: The couple must have been married for at least three years. Exceptions can be made in cases where the party filing for divorce has suffered exceptional hardship or the other party has shown exceptionally unreasonable behaviour.

Ground for getting a divorce

There is only one ground for getting a divorce that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Facts to prove “irretrievable breakdown”

In order to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, you must show the court that you are relying on one or more of these following facts:

AdulteryYour spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with him/her.

Unreasonable BehaviourYour spouse has behaved in such a manner that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.

DesertionYour spouse has left you against your wishes for a period of 2 years without any intention of returning.

Living ApartYou and your spouse have lived separately & apart or together but maintained separate households for 3 years with consent from your spouse to divorce or lived apart for 4 years (without the consent).

What if you do not meet the above requirements?

If you have not met the 3-year marriage requirement, there are 3 available options for you to consider:

If you have suffered exceptional depravity or hardship, the court may allow you to file for divorce, even if you do not meet the 3-year marriage requirement. Essentially, you have to be able to prove that you either suffered exceptional hardship or that your spouse has behaved with exceptional depravity. Factors the court will consider are:

  • Hardships you have suffered by reason of the previous conduct of your spouse;
  • Your present hardships, as well as how long and how much you will have to suffer from having to wait out the 3-year time period to elapse;
  • The hardship suffered must be something out of the ordinary, considering the current standards of acceptable behaviour between spouses.

Annulment is the legal procedure to declare that a marriage never existed and was never valid. In other words, upon an annulment, the marriage will be considered null and void, returning parties to their single status and not divorced. If you are seeking an annulment, you need to be able to prove that the marriage is either void or voidable in law. A void marriage is deemed invalid from the start regardless of whether an annulment is obtained, whereas a voidable marriage is deemed to be legally valid until it is annulled.

A marriage is void in the following instances:

  • Muslim marriage that was solemnised or registered under the Women’s Charter (both parties are Muslims)
  • Marriage wherein a party is underage (below the age of 18)
  • Incestuous marriage (within prohibited degrees)
  • Polygamy (more than one subsisting marriage)
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Improperly solemnised marriage
  • Invalid overseas marriage

A marriage is voidable in the following instances:

  • Wilful refusal by the Defendant to consummate
  • Incapacity of either party to consummate
  • Marriage was not validly consented to
  • Party considered unfit to be married e.g. mental disorder
  • Defendant was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease at time of marriage
  • Wife was pregnant by a third party at time of marriage

Deed of Separation or Marital Agreements are legally binding private documents which may be revoked at any time with the consent of both parties. You can consider this option if you wish to be regarded as separated from your spouse prior to filing for a divorce.

Under a Deed of Separation, parties will have to wait out at least 3 years’ of separation before a divorce can be filed on the grounds of separation (with consent).

Under a Marital Agreement, parties can agree to file for a divorce immediately after their marriage reaches the 3-year mark.

Both the Deed of Separation and Marital Agreement can reflect parties’ agreed settlement of their ancillary matters. This would give parties some certainty as to how their divorce and ancillary matters will be handled once the divorce is filed in Court.

As one of Singapore`s largest matrimonial law departments, our team of Family Lawyers are able to dedicate considerable resources to ensuring our clients achieve the best possible results on their cases.

Contact Our Divorce Lawyers

If you’d like to speak with one of our lawyers, we offer a complimentary 30-minute consultation to take you through the Singapore divorce process.

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