Singapore Courts Must have Jurisdiction
Singapore Courts will have jurisdiction if either you or your spouse is domiciled in Singapore (treated Singapore as your permanent home) at the start of the proceedings OR if either party has resided in Singapore for 3 years immediately before the start of the proceedings.
Parties must have passed the “3 year marriage bar”
You must have been married for at least 3 years before filing for a divorce. However, you may obtain Court’s permission to file for a divorce before the 3 year bar if you can prove “exceptional depravity” or “exceptional hardship”.
Grounds 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” include:
The Defendant committed adultery and the Plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the Defendant
The Defendant has behaved in such a manner that the Plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her
The Defendant has deserted the Plaintiff for 2 years without any intention of returning
Parties have lived apart for 3 years and the Defendant consents to divorce & Parties have lived apart for 4 years (Without the consent of both parties)
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:
- - Divorce on the basis of Exceptional Hardship suffered by you and/or exceptional depravation on the part of your spouse
- - Annulment
- - Deed of Separation / Marital Agreement (post-nuptial)
Divorce on the basis of Exceptional Hardship and/or Exceptional depravity
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.
The bar for this exception is set quite high and based on the facts and circumstances of each case. Should you succeed in establishing exceptional hardship and/or depravity, you can then proceed to file for a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, and the formal divorce process kicks in.
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 / Marital Agreement (post nuptial)
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 Law Specialists are able to dedicate considerable resources to ensuring our clients achieve the best possible results on their cases.
"We don't just practice family law – we specialise in it. That’s how we have grown to become one of Singapore`s biggest matrimonial law teams”
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