For anyone, navigating a divorce can be daunting, leaving many individuals uncertain about the process, its timeline, and the potential financial implications that may follow.
There is also the emotional upheaval and stress encountered during the dissolution of a marriage.
This article aims to shed light on these pressing questions, guiding you through each step of the journey of a divorce in Singapore.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Singapore?
A divorce is not immediate. Essentially, it is a two-stage process where the Courts will first determine the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage and then consider the ancillary issues related to the dissolution of a marriage.
Generally, an “Interim Judgement”, which is granted when the Court is satisfied that the marriage has broken down, will first be granted. This will be followed by the “Final Judgement” which is the formal dissolution of the marriage granted when the ancillary matters have been dealt with.
Upon the grant of Final Judgement, the couple will be considered officially divorced.
Under the Simplified Uncontested Divorce (ie., Fast-Track Divorce), you can receive the Interim Judgement within three to four weeks from the date of filing the divorce papers in Court. After which, there is a mandatory three-month administrative waiting period before Final Judgement can be granted.
Conversely, if parties proceed under a Contested Divorce Track (ie., Normal Track Divorce), it may take anywhere between 8 months to a year, or even longer, depending on the complexities involved.
How Can I Get an Immediate Divorce in Singapore?
Getting an “immediate” divorce is not usually feasible due to the legal proceedings involved. However, expediting the process is possible if both parties agree on all divorce matters, including child custody, division of matrimonial assets, and maintenance issues.
This is known as a simplified uncontested divorce and can hasten the process significantly. Still, it requires total agreement and cooperation from both parties.
Read more: Expedited Divorce Proceedings in Singapore
What are the Top Reasons for Divorce in Singapore?
According to the Department of Statistics Singapore, Statistics on Marriages and Divorce 2022, the top two main reasons for civil divorces in Singapore is “unreasonable behaviour” and “three-years separation”.
Unreasonable behaviour encompasses a range of actions of one spouse which are deemed intolerable by the other spouse. In contrast, separation is where both parties decide to live apart as two different households.
Three years of living apart with consent allows for a no-fault divorce, promoting amicable dissolution of marriage.
All of these, would contribute towards meeting the sole ground of divorce, ie., the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which signifies that a relationship that has deteriorated beyond repair and the couple finds themselves unable to reconcile.
Read more: Common Reasons for Divorce in Singapore
Understanding the Legal Grounds for Divorce
Singapore operates under a single ground for divorce – the “irretrievable breakdown of marriage“.
You may rely on one of the five circumstances stipulated by law: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion of two years, three years of separation with consent, or four years of separation without consent.
The Process: From Filing to The Final Judgment
Generally, the divorce process begins with the Plaintiff (the spouse filing for divorce) filing a Writ of Divorce, a Statement of Claim, and a Statement of Particulars in Court and serving it personally on the other spouse.
The Defendant (the other spouse who did not initiate the divorce) then has eight days to decide whether to contest the divorce and/or its ancillary matters.
At this stage, it depends on what is contested by the Defendant, whether it is the divorce and/or ancillary matters. Regardless of either, parties would generally then be directed to attend mediation to attempt to reach an amicable settlement.
This may take a two stage process depending on the issues in dispute. If parties are able to settle, the agreed terms can be recorded as an Order of Court. However, if they are unable to settle, they will be directed to trial for the Court to adjudicate.
Alternatively, if parties file for divorce under the Simplified Uncontested Divorce, the terms of settlement can be filed together with the Writ of Divorce, which will allow the Court consider them and grant the orders at the time of Interim Judgement.
As mentioned above, although Interim Judgement can be granted when the Court is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, Final Judgement will only be granted when all the ancillary matters have been dealt with.
Read more: The Process of Divorce in Singapore
Do I Have to Give My Wife Money If We Divorce?
In Singapore, post-divorce spousal maintenance is not automatically granted. The Court will consider factors such as the wife’s financial needs, her earning capacity, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, and the duration of the marriage.
These are some non-exhaustive factors considered by the Court, but each case will be determined on its facts:
- The past, present, and future income, earning capacity, property, and other financial resources of each spouse
- Financial needs and responsibilities of the dependent spouse (and children)
- The spouses’ ages
- Whether the spouse has a physical or mental disability
- Contributions the spouses made to the well-being and care of the family
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage.
Read more: Spousal Maintenance in Singapore
Financial Considerations and Asset Division
The identification of matrimonial assets and its subsequent division is usually another area of dispute during divorce. Generally, anything that is acquired or ordinarily used during the marriage is considered a matrimonial asset and is liable for division.
This includes matrimonial homes, joint and sole bank accounts, the family car, CPF accounts, and etc. There are certain exceptions for pre-marital assets, gifts and inheritances, but whether they are included or not for division, will depend on the factual matrix.
When deciding on division, the Court will consider the parties’ direct and indirect contributions towards the acquisition, improvement, and maintenance of the parties’ matrimonial assets.
Direct contributions refer to financial payments towards the asset’s purchase while indirect contributions refer to the paying of bills, grocery shopping, household chores, caregiving duties, and etc.
It should be noted that if parties are able to come to an agreement regarding the identification of matrimonial assets and its division, they may include it as part of their terms of settlement when filing for divorce and there is no need to rely on the Court’s adjudication.
Open communication with a view towards amicable resolution can go a long way in making the entire divorce process less daunting. It is also equally important for you to be able to make informed decisions each step of the way. Our matrimonial lawyers can give you personalised advice to safeguard your interests during this difficult transition.
Understanding the legal implications of your decisions can significantly impact the outcome of the divorce and subsequent financial and familial arrangements.
While this article aims to provide you with a general understanding, one must remember that each family, each marriage and each divorce is unique. You will need to carefully consider your options with sound legal advice to navigate the process effectively.
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