Once a couple has decided that their marriage is over, the next step is to proceed with the formal process of ending the marriage. It would be prudent to familiarise yourself with the various processes available to end the marriage, such as Divorce and consulting with a family lawyer.
In Singapore, there are several different processes available to end a marriage. How couples dissolve their marriage is determined by the facts of their case and if they agree on the terms of their Divorce.
For example, the reasons for the Divorce, parenting arrangements, division of assets, and maintenance of spouse and children are the main issues that need to be negotiated and resolved.
The different ways to end the marriage
- Uncontested Divorce
- Judicial Separation
- The Grounds for Divorce
- The division of matrimonial assets, including (HDB/Private property)
- Issues involving the care and control of children
- Any maintenance arrangements for wife/children
- Cost-effective, fast, amicable.
- Parties are NOT required to attend Court; this preserves the privacy and dignity of the family by amicably ending their marriage.
- It is the fastest option (estimated five months to final judgement)
- Not applicable if both parties cannot reach an agreement
- Parties may not consider all the necessary factors, and their rights could be compromised.
- Parties may have to incur further legal costs to engage solicitors to rectify any missteps.
- Allows couples to provide their respective positions in Court and ask that the Court make orders which are just and equitable.
- Allows for more fruitful discussions on settlement after having seen the relevant financial documents and information.
- Can be a lengthy and costly process.
- It can negatively impact the relationship between parents, making it harder for them to co-parent effectively.
Where parties are eligible for a divorce, and have negotiated and fully agreed on all issues in a divorce, they can proceed with a simplified uncontested divorce. If so, they would not need to attend Court and the process is much simpler.
In order to have reached the initial agreement, parties can engage in negotiations between themselves, engage the help of lawyers or even private mediators to assist parties in coming to a full agreement before any legal proceedings are even commenced.
Uncontested Divorce applies to couples who have mutually agreed on;
Can You Divorce?
How much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost in Singapore?
The Difference Between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce?
Simplified Divorce Process – Checklist for Uncontested Divorce
Where parties are eligible for a divorce but do not have a full agreement on all the issues, a divorce is contested. The Court is required to make the necessary orders. Where there are children under 21 years of age, parties will be required to attend mediation to try and reach an amicable resolution to the matter.
If the first stage is being contested, parties will have to proceed to give their evidence on the breakdown of the marriage on the stand.
If the second stage is being contested, parties will need to file at least 2 rounds of affidavits to provide the Court with the relevant evidence required for the Court to make its decision.
How can I get a Divorce? – The Grounds for Divorce Revised
I have been served with divorce papers. Now what?
Importance of Entering an Appearance When Served with Divorce Papers
Divorce Process in Singapore
Some couples whose marriages have broken down but are opposed to the concept of Divorce could consider applying for a Judicial Separation instead.
A Judicial Separation is a process wherein parties are separated but still legally married. The Court can make orders similar to that in a divorce, pertaining to child issues, division of assets, maintenance etc.
As parties are still legally married, they will not be able to remarry until a divorce takes place.
Reasons for why parties may but opt for a Judicial Separation instead of proceeding with a divorce:
- religious commitments,
- moral grounds,
- societal norms or
- responsibility towards their children.
- This allows recourse to parties who may feel opposed to the concept of Divorce. The Court has the same range of powers as in divorce cases.
- Parties are not able to remarry until they undergo divorce proceedings
A marriage that is void or voidable can be annulled. If granted, the marriage would be as if it had never existed.
Unlike Divorce, which imposes a mandatory 3-year period of marriage, you may apply for an annulment even shortly after the marriage if you meet the requisite conditions.
You will need to prove to the Court that the marriage is either:
- Void; or
To prove that a marriage is void, you will need to show that marriage did not meet the legal requirements under the Women’s Charter.
- Underage marriages
- Marriages between close relatives
- Bigamous or polygamous marriages
- Marriages between persons of the same sex
- Marriages that have not been properly solemnised
- Marriages between two Muslims solemnised under the Women’s Charter instead of under Muslim law
To prove that a marriage is voidable, you will need to prove one of the following:
- Non-consummation of marriage due to either party’s incapacity or a wilful refusal to do so;
- The marriage had taken place without either party’s valid consent, such as where consent was given under a state of duress, mistake, mental disorder, or otherwise;
- The marriage took place while either party was suffering from a mental disorder such that they were unfit for marriage (even though the party may have been capable of giving valid consent);
- The other party to the marriage was suffering from a communicable sexually transmitted disease at the time of marriage;
- At the time of the marriage, the defendant was pregnant by someone other than the applicant.
For a flowchart to understand whether your marriage can be annulled, please click here.
- The marriage is declared null and void, as if it had never existed. Accordingly, unlike a divorce, parties revert back to their ‘single’ status.
- Annulments have their own strict set of criteria and implications; hence it may not be an ideal (or even possible!) solution.
Developing a clear understanding of your options and goals before commencing the divorce process will help you be more focused, less side-tracked and in a better position when starting your post-divorce life.