It is natural to be worried and concerned about the next steps to take when you have been served with divorce papers. This is especially so when the service of these divorce papers are unexpected and come as a surprise.
Do note that there are certain timelines you have to adhere to upon service of divorce papers. Failure to adhere to these timelines may result in the Court granting the divorce in your spouse’ favour.
Here are some steps you may wish to consider taking as soon as possible when you have been served with divorce papers: –
- Seek advice from a specialist divorce lawyer
- Decide on what position you will be taking in the divorce proceedings.
- Enter an appearance in court
Seek advice from a specialist divorce lawyer.
- Explain the contents of the divorce papers;
- Assist you in understanding your legal rights and obligations;
- Explain in detail the Singapore Divorce Process;
- Explain the applicable laws in the different stages of the divorce process.
- Answer any queries you may have in relation to your matter.
Decide on what position you will be taking in the divorce proceedings.
Based on your consultation with our specialist divorce lawyers, do spend some time to consider what position you wish to take in the divorce proceedings. This is important as the Court will want to know the same.
As such, you must decide whether to:
- Contest the reason for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (i.e you disagree with your spouse’s allegations for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage/ you are of the view the marriage has not irretrievably broken down); and/or
- Contest the ancillary matters (i.e you disagree with your spouse’ position on issues relating to custody, care and control and access of the child, division of matrimonial assets, child and spousal maintenance, costs of the divorce).
Related Article: How to Serve Divorce Papers in Singapore
Enter an appearance in court.
It is very important for you to enter an appearance in a divorce suit, especially if you are not agreeable to any of the terms stated in your spouse’s divorce papers.
Entering an appearance is to inform the Court of your position with respect to the divorce matter and submit to the Singapore Court’s jurisdiction.
If you fail to enter an appearance after the divorce papers have been served on you:
- The Court will assume that you are not raising any objections and proceed on an uncontested basis.
- The Court may decide the case without you.
- Your marriage may be legally ended, and orders may be made regarding the children, property or maintenance. These orders will be binding on you even if you did not enter an appearance or show up at the court hearing.
Read more about: The Difference Between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce?
If you were served the divorce papers in Singapore, you must enter an appearance within 8 days of the date that the divorce documents were served on you. To do so, your appointed lawyers will file a Memorandum of Appearance (Form 18) on your behalf.
If you were served the divorce papers outside of Singapore, you have 21 days to file the Memorandum of Appearance.
Thereafter, upon filing a Memorandum of Appearance on the 8th/ 21st day, you will have another 14 days to file your Defence (i.e you do not agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and you do not wish to divorce) or Defence and Counterclaim (i.e you agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down but you do not agree with your spouse’s allegations for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage).
In the event of unexpected delays on your end and you do decide to enter an appearance after the time period has lapsed, you will have to ask your lawyers to file the necessary paper work to seek permission from the Court for an extension of time.
This will result in additional legal costs to be incurred and you shall also be penalised to pay some wasted legal costs to the other side.
If you have been served with divorce papers, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team of Singapore Divorce lawyers who can assist and guide you through your divorce matter promptly, ensuring you are in compliance with Court timelines.