Jurisdiction of Court in Matrimonial Proceedings

matrimonial proceedings

At GJC, common questions our divorce lawyers often receive are;

  • If I am married in Singapore, must I (apply for a) divorce in Singapore? OR
  • I am married in country X but have been living in Singapore, can I (apply for a) divorce here?

This question relates to the jurisdiction of the Singapore Courts. Pursuant to s 93(1) of the Women’s Charter, the Singapore court will have jurisdiction to hear the divorce if either party to the marriage is:

  1. domiciled in Singapore at the time of the commencement of the proceedings; OR
  2. habitually resident in Singapore for a period of 3 years immediately preceding the commencement of the proceedings.


Domicile is a complex legal concept, but in layman’s terms, it is the country that the person treats as their permanent home.

A person who is a citizen of Singapore will be deemed, until the contrary is proved, to be domiciled in Singapore.

Habitual Residence

As the name suggests, requires parties to prove their residence for three years. Short absences (such as work trips or holidays) do not break the continuity required within three years’ habitual residence.


In short, if parties see Singapore as their permanent home or have been living in Singapore for the past 3 years, then they are eligible to file for divorce in Singapore, subject to other requirements.

Conversely, if they have left Singapore (ie migrated to other countries), even if they were married in Singapore, if they no longer treat Singapore as their permanent home and/or they have not been living in Singapore for the past 3 years, then the Singapore Courts will not be able to hear the divorce.

For more information on domicile and habitual residence, contact our divorce lawyers who will be able to assess your case to see if you are eligible to apply for divorce in Singapore.

“At Gloria James-Civetta & Co, we handle both local and expatriate divorce cases. Regardless whether you intend to commence a simplified divorce or whether you foresee a protracted and contentious legal battle, our matrimonial lawyers will provide you with the necessary legal knowledge to place you in the best position to make an informed decision.”

Call us on +65 6337 0469