I Want a Divorce But My Spouse Doesn’t. What Can I Do?


As long as you meet the requirements to divorce in Singapore, no one can stop you from filing for divorce, if that is what you wish. Put simply, your spouse can’t stop you, but moving forward can be made more difficult, thus complicating the process.

This blog focuses on the two most common issues faced when you want a divorce and your spouse doesn’t – Filing for divorce and child-related issues.

My Spouse has informed me that he/she will not be responding to the divorce papers and refuses to participate in the process. What are my rights?

Answer: You may still proceed with filing the divorce papers. The Court will still be able to give orders pertaining to dissolving the marriage and the ancillary matters (division of assets, maintenance and child issues).

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.

Read more: Documents to File in the Event of Divorce

I expect my spouse to be very difficult when it comes to negotiating issues regarding the children. What lies ahead for me?

Answer: If your spouse has entered an appearance in the divorce, and your children are below 21, there is a compulsory mediation and counselling process that divorcing couples have to attend.

This process takes place at the Child Focused Resolution Centre (CFRC). The CFRC sessions are specifically designed to assist divorcing couples in addressing and resolving issues related to their children in a manner that prioritizes the children’s best interests and overall well-being.

Here’s how CFRC sessions can help if your spouse is being difficult, and what you can do in these circumstances:

Neutral Ground for Discussion: CFRC provides a neutral environment where both parties can discuss issues relating to their children without the emotional baggage that often comes with direct interactions. This can be particularly helpful if communication between you and your spouse is strained.

Mediation & Counselling: The CFRC employs trained professionals who specialize in counselling on child matters with judges sitting as mediators. At the first conference, both the judge-mediator and a counsellor will be present and the objective is to help both parties focus on the best interests of the children rather than personal conflicts.

Focusing on Children’s Needs: The primary goal of CFRC sessions is to ensure that the needs and welfare of the children are at the forefront of any discussion and decision. The mediators help parents understand the impact of their decisions on their children and encourage them to make choices that prioritise the children’s well-being.

Encouraging Constructive Communication: The mediators at CFRC guide the conversation in a way that encourages constructive communication. They can help de-escalate conflicts and redirect the focus to finding mutually acceptable solutions.

Child Inclusive Sessions: In some cases, the CFRC may involve the children in the sessions, especially if they are of an appropriate age and maturity. This ensures that the children’s voices and preferences are considered in the decision-making process.

Preparing for Court: If an agreement cannot be reached during CFRC sessions, the insights and recommendations from these sessions can still be valuable if the matter goes to court. They can provide a basis for your legal strategy and demonstrate your commitment to resolving issues in a manner that serves the best interest of the children.

Read more: Compulsory Councelling & Mediation- CFRC

My spouse has informed me that he/she will make this process difficult and expensive. Is this correct?

Answer: Yes and no. Depending on the complexity (number of issues that are being contested) of your matter and whether your spouse chooses to participate in the divorce proceedings, costs will vary accordingly.

If your spouse chooses to ignore the papers, the matter can proceed in their absence.

If your spouse is contesting the divorce as well as all ancillary matters, then:-

  • there will first be a trial for contested divorce to see if the marriage is to be dissolved or not;
  • assuming (1) is answered in the affirmative, there will be a subsequent hearing for ancillary matters.
gloria james

gloria james

At the free consultation stage, our Divorce Lawyers will:

  • Assess if you can file for divorce in Singapore.
  • Help you understand each step of the divorce process.
  • Address questions & concerns related to divorce process.
  • Help you explore your divorce options.
  • Contact Us