When you are served with the divorce papers, you cannot simply ignore the service. It is important for you to enter an appearance in a divorce suit to show your intention to defend the action and submit to the jurisdiction of the court.
The process is done by filing a Memorandum of Appearance (Form 17) through your appointed lawyers, and it must be filed within 8 days of the date that the divorce documents were served on you. If you were served outside Singapore, you have 21 days to file the Memorandum of Appearance.
In the Memorandum of Appearance, you have to indicate whether you are contesting the divorce itself, or the ancillary matters, or both.
Failing to Enter an Appearance will result in the initiating party proceeding as if the divorce is being uncontested. A divorce date will be given and an interim judgment will be pronounced.
If you do decide to Enter an Appearance after the time period has lapsed, you will have to ask your lawyers to file the necessary paperwork to have it set aside and to allow you to file your Defence and Counterclaim out of time.
This will result in additional legal costs to be incurred and you shall also be penalized to pay some wasted legal costs to the other side.
So what do you do?
- Ask yourself, do you wish to give your spouse the divorce?
- Do you think your spouse has a case against you?
- Do you think your marriage can be saved through effective counselling?
- Will mediation help?
- Should you proceed with a divorce? Have the particulars toned down? Consider a Deed of Separation? Deed of Reconciliation? Or Judicial Separation?
Seek a lawyer to help you in the right direction and to explain the process.
Remember that you have 8 days to enter an appearance to indicate if you are contesting or not contesting.