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Divorcing a foreign spouse – FAQs

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foreign spousal divorce

Can I get a divorce in Singapore if my spouse is a foreigner?

Yes, as long as you yourself are domiciled in Singapore at the time of the commencement of the divorce proceedings, or have been habitually resident in Singapore for a period of 3 years, even if your spouse is not or has not.

You will also need to have been married to your spouse for more than 3 years, and show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

What if I have been married to my spouse for less than 3 years?

You can either:

  • Wait out the 3 years;
  • Annul the marriage if possible; or
  • Show that you have experienced exceptional hardship, or that your spouse has demonstrated exceptional depravity

What if I have been unable to find or contact my spouse for a period of time and I think he/she has gone back to his/her home country?

You may still proceed with the divorce. However, the court will still require you to serve the divorce documents on your spouse. This will necessarily lead to higher costs as attempts have to be made to locate him/her, and if this is not successful, an advertisement may have to be placed in an overseas newspaper as substituted service. Alternatively, an application can be made for the dispensation of service if there is reason to think that the advertisement will not be effective.
A divorce lawyer will be able to make such applications for you.

How can I show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably?

You will have to show one or more of the following facts:

  • That your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with him/her
  • Your spouse has behaved in such a manner that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her
  • Your spouse has deserted you for 2 years without any intention of returning
  • You and your spouse have lived apart for 3 years and your spouse consents to divorce
  • You and your spouse have lived apart for 4 years (spouse’s consent is not required)

Will I still have to pay maintenance to my wife if she has gone back to her home country/some other country?

If your wife has returned to her home country or is in another country and she does not make an application for maintenance, the court will not order you to pay maintenance.
However, if your wife does make an application for maintenance in the court of her home country/another country and maintenance is ordered by that court, it may be registered by the Singapore court.

At Gloria James-Civetta & Co, we offer a free 20-minute consultation with one of our lawyers, who will explain the divorce process and assess whether you meet the requirements to file for divorce in Singapore.
Call us on +65 6337 0469
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