The process of divorce may seem confusing and one may be unsure in how to go about filing for divorce. The following paragraphs serve as a rough guide to the initial stages of commencing divorce proceedings.
Before commencing divorce procedures it is necessary to send out Standard Queries Forms to the Housing Development Board (HDB) and the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board (reply will take around a month)
Documents to be Filed
Divorce proceedings will commence with the filing of relevant documents including the following:
- Writ for Divorce: means to commence divorce suit
- Statement of Claim: state which fact (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion for at least 2 years, three years’ separation with consent or four years’ separation) you are relying on to ask the Court to grant you divorce
- Statement of Particulars: state details of the fact you are relying on
- Proposed/Agreed Parenting Plan: (if you have children below 21) regarding custody, care and control of children.
- Proposed/Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan: (if there is an HDB flat as matrimonial property) payment of outstanding loans, division based on contributions to purchase price
- Acknowledgement of Service: signed by Defendant
- Memorandum of Appearance: Defendant to indicate if he/she intends to contest the divorce and/or contest ancillary matters
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Service of documents
As a requirement under the Family Justice Rules, the sealed copies of your documents must be served on the Defendant to alert him/her of the divorce proceedings in Singapore. There are various ways for this to be done:
- Personal Service — documents handed directly to Defendant by a court process server
- Registered Post — documents posted to Defendant’s address (only accepted if Defendant signs and returns Acknowledgement of Service)
- E-Litigation on the Defendant’s lawyer
If service of papers on the Defendant fails after 2 attempts of service, or if the Defendant’s address is unknown but you believe he/she is still residing in Singapore, you may take out an application in the Family Court for Substituted Service.
In the event that the Defendant chooses to ignore the divorce papers, a Request for Setting Down Action for Trial can be filed for and the court may fix a hearing date where the divorce may be granted in the absence of the Defendant.
Filing for divorce can be done independently without engaging a lawyer (“acting in person”) but you will not be exempt from the legal, procedural and formal requirements of conducting Court proceedings. Furthermore, the Family Justice Courts cannot provide you with any legal advice in terms of action to take or formatting of your documents. It is advisable to contact an experienced divorce lawyer to advise you on your case. This is especially so if you expect that your spouse will be contesting the divorce, which further complicates the divorce process.