Contested Divorce Process in Singapore: Everything You Need to Know

contested divorce singapore

Divorce can be challenging and emotionally taxing, especially when the decision is not mutual.

In Singapore, when a couple cannot reach an amicable agreement to dissolve their marriage, it leads to a contested divorce.

This article will explore what a contested divorce entails, the proceedings involved, the duration it may take, and how it differs from an uncontested divorce.

What is a Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce is a legal procedure where one spouse initiates divorce proceedings against the other. There is a disagreement on the ground for divorce and one or more key ancillary issues, for example, the division of assets, child custody, and maintenance.

Unlike an uncontested divorce, where both parties mutually agree on the terms, a contested divorce can be costlier and more time-consuming, requiring intervention from the court to resolve disputes.

Contested Divorce Proceedings in Singapore

In Singapore, the contested divorce process begins with filing a Writ for Divorce, a Statement of Claim and a Statement of Particulars.

Essentially, the plaintiff (the spouse initiating the divorce) must state the basis for the divorce due to the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” Which is the only ground for divorce recognized in Singapore.

If you decide to file an application for divorce, the onus is on you to prove ONE of the five possible situations as laid down in s 95(3) of the Women’s Charter.

The five situations that have been established to be sufficient for proving the grounds of divorce are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for at least three years (with consent), or separation for at least four years (without consent).

After filing the Writ for Divorce, the defendant (the other spouse) has eight days to acknowledge the writ and may choose to contest the divorce. If the defendant contests, the case proceeds to the next stage, which involves the discovery process.

During this stage, parties are required to disclose their financial assets, liabilities, and other relevant information to facilitate a fair settlement.

Read more: Navigating Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Singapore 2023

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Singapore?

The duration of a contested divorce in Singapore can vary based on several factors, including the case’s complexity, the number of contested issues, the cooperation between both parties and the court’s caseload. On average, a contested divorce can take several months to over a year to conclude.

At GJC Law, our lawyers can help negotiate and mediate to find a middle ground between parties, potentially expediting the proceedings and reducing the emotional strain for our client.

Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Singapore

The primary difference between contested and uncontested divorces in Singapore lies in the level of agreement between spouses.

In an uncontested divorce, both parties mutually agree to end the marriage. They can settle issues such as asset division, child custody, and maintenance outside of court.

This process is generally quicker, cost-effective, and less emotionally draining.

Conversely, a contested divorce involves disagreements that may require court intervention. The court will carefully examine the evidence presented by both parties and make decisions in the interests of the involved parties, especially regarding child custody matters.

Read more: What to Expect in a Contested and an Uncontested Divorce in Singapore

What Documents get filed in a Contested Divorce?

The parties must prepare and submit various documents highlighting many aspects of their lives. These documents include:

  • Writ for Divorce
  • Proposed parenting plan
  • Statement of Claim that details the reasons for filing for divorce, details of marital assets owned, and ancillary reliefs claimed
  • Proposed matrimonial division plan in case of an HDB flat jointly owned by the parties
  • Statement of Particulars with details on what happened in the marriage (violence, adultery, or unreasonable behaviour) that led to the breakdown of marriage
  • Memorandum of Appearance -the defendant is required to file the memorandum of appearance within eight days of receiving the writ for divorce, indicating if they intend to contest the divorce and ancillary matters
  • Acknowledgement of Service that the defendant signs

Read more: Filing for Divorce — What Documents to File and Service of Documents

What Makes Contested Divorces So Difficult?

You may agree with your spouse that you should divorce. Still, you may need help to get along with your spouse, thus making it difficult to agree on other issues.

Most disagreements between couples involve contentious issues, which is why an experienced divorce lawyer is essential.

A contested divorce is typically more complex than an uncontested divorce due to several factors, such as:

  • Disagreements on Key Issues
  • Increased Emotional Strain
  • Legal Complexity
  • Time-Consuming
  • Costly
  • Uncertain Outcomes

Read more: Benefits of Uncontested Divorce

Navigating a contested divorce can be a complex, lengthy legal and emotional process. It is crucial for individuals going through this situation to seek legal advice to ensure their rights are protected.

Understanding the contested divorce process in Singapore and the differences between contested and uncontested divorces can help individuals make informed decisions about their future.

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