Legal Requirements for Divorce
In Singapore, the legal requirements for divorce may be found in section 95 of the Women’s Charter:
Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage
Either you or your spouse may file a writ for divorce. For divorce to be granted, an “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” must be proven. This can only be proven by showing the court that at least one of the below five circumstances has taken place:
- that the defendant has committed adultery and the plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the defendant;
- that the defendant has behaved in such a way that the plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with the defendant;
- that the defendant has deserted the plaintiff for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the writ;
- that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 3 years immediately preceeding the filing of the writ and the defendant consents to a judgment being granted;
- that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 4 years immediately preceding the filing of the writ.
If one of the above circumstances can be proven, the courts will almost certainly grant divorce. This is unless in very exceptional cases as held in William Cheng v Chai Mei Leng.
As elucidated in the case of Kwong Sin Hwa, the court will not grant a divorce merely because the application for divorce is uncontested.
Upon the writ being filed, the court will, so far as it reasonably can, inquire into the facts alleged as causing or leading to the breakdown of the marriage. The court will only grant a divorce if it is satisfied that the circumstances make it just and reasonable to do so.
The court’s judgment will consider all circumstances. This includes the conduct of parties, the interests of the children of the marriage and whether there is possibility of reconciliation.