Divorce by Mutual Agreement (DMA) in Singapore: Understanding the New Framework

divorce mutual agreement singapore

As of July 1, 2024, married couples who agree their marriage has irretrievably broken down can cite mutual agreement as the reason for divorce.

This empowering option is available through Divorce by Mutual Agreement (DMA), allowing couples to divorce without specifically blaming one party. It contrasts with fault-based reasons such as Unreasonable Behaviour, Adultery, and Desertion, which were previously more commonly relied upon.

Joint Responsibility in DMA

Under DMA, both spouses take joint responsibility for the breakdown of their marriage. If they are not contesting the divorce, those divorcing may use this method under both the simplified and normal tracks.

Benefits of DMA

Divorce by mutual agreement, a key feature of DMA, is particularly advantageous for couples who continue to co-parent after divorce. It fosters a cooperative relationship, essential for the ongoing interaction required in co-parenting situations.

DMA and Co-Parenting

DMA provides an opportunity for a divorce process free from acrimony. This is especially important when children are involved, as parties will need to maintain a functional relationship to co-parent effectively.

Mandatory Co-Parenting Programme

Starting from July 1, 2024, couples opting for the Simplified Track in DMA will be mandated to attend the Co-Parenting Programme (CPP). This programme plays a crucial role in preparing couples for effective co-parenting post-divorce.

All couples with minor children must complete the CPP before filing for divorce, regardless of whether they have reached an agreement on these issues.

What are the requirements of DMA?

To rely on DMA as a fact for divorce, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  1. Parties must be married for at least 3 years – the general restriction on filing for divorce during the first 3 years of marriage still applies to DMA.
  2. Parties must have a written agreement (the “Agreement”) that the marriage has irretrievably broken down that includes:
    • The reasons that led Parties to conclude that their marriage has irretrievably broken down;
    • The efforts that Parties have made to reconcile; and
    • The consideration that Parties have given to the arrangements to be made about their financial affairs and any child of the marriage.

The Court will only accept the agreement if it is satisfied with the Parties’ reasons or if it finds that there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation.

What are some reasons that can be used in DMA?

Examples of the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage that can be cited by Parties relying on DMA include:

  • Having vast differences in values;
  • Being unable to see eye-to-eye;
  • Having constant misunderstandings;
  • No longer having any love for each other and
  • Growing apart and being unable to see their lives together.

Reflection

DMA ensures that couples reflect on their decision comprehensively by requiring a detailed agreement that addresses the reasons for the marriage’s breakdown. This framework simplifies the divorce process and aligns with the goal of maintaining harmony and respect in familial relationships post-divorce.

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