Judicial Separation in Singapore

judicial separation in singapore

In Singapore, couples who wish to live apart but do not meet the criteria for divorce or do not wish to divorce may apply to the Court for a judicial separation.

This article investigates the nuances between judicial separation and divorce, highlighting the unique differences between them and the legal implications of each path.

Why Judicial Separation?

A judicial separation is an alternative for parties who wish to live separate lives but cannot proceed with a divorce or an annulment for a multitude of reasons, including;

  • Failure to meet the legal requirements for a divorce or an annulment,
  • Religious commitments,
  • Moral grounds,
  • Societal obligations and
  • Considerations for their children.

In an application for judicial separation, parties may address financial issues and other ancillary matters, such as the division of matrimonial assets and the children’s issues.

Once a judgement of judicial separation is granted, parties will be legally and formally separated. They will not have to live with each other. Parties also do not owe any marital obligations to each other, as husband and wife, even though they are still legally married.

At the same time, a judgment granting judicial separation does not preclude either party from filing for a divorce once they are ready or once they have met the relevant legal requirements.

Grounds for Judicial Separation

To apply for a judicial separation, one has to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by relying upon one of the following facts:

  • adultery;
  • unreasonable behaviour;
  • desertion for at least two years;
  • separation for three years with consent or
  • separation for four years without consent.

How does a Judicial Separation differ from a Divorce?

The main difference between a judicial separation and a divorce is that in a judicial separation, parties are still legally married and cannot remarry, even though they are formally separated.

However, the Court has the power to deal with the ancillary matters, such as child custody, and division of matrimonial assets in both a judicial separation and a divorce. The Court has the power to make orders regarding any property and assets that parties own, arrangements for any children and for parties to pay maintenance for their spouse and/or any children.

Applying for a Judicial Separation

Judicial separation can be pursued immediately after marriage, unlike divorce, which requires parties to be married for at least three years.

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