A simplified divorce is one in which both parties agree to all aspects of a divorce. In other words, there is an agreement on the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage and all the ancillary matters. Typically, Parties should be able to obtain their interim judgement in 4 weeks.
Prior to a simplified divorce, the predominant issues that Parties must arrive at an agreement on include:
Reason for the Divorce
In Singapore, there is only one ground of divorce – being the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In order to establish this, Parties would have to utilise the facts set out in Section 95(3) of the Women’s Charter, namely:
- That one Party has committed adultery and the other finds it intolerable to live with him/her;
- That one Party has behaved in a manner that the other cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her;
- That one Party has deserted the other for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the divorce;
- That the Parties to the marriage have lived apart for 3 years immediately preceding the filing of the divorce and the Defendant consents to a judgment being granted; and
- That the Parties to the marriage have lived apart for 4 years immediately preceding the filing of the divorce.
When it comes to the child(ren) of the marriage, parties have to agree on custody, care and control as well as access.
Custody refers to which parent will make the important long-term decisions for the child(ren), such as education, religion, etc. In the absence of strong reasons, such as sexual abuse or violence, joint custody is ordinarily awarded by the Singapore Courts.
Care and control
On the other hand, care and control refer to who the parent will be making the day-to-day decisions for the child(ren) (e.g. meals, activities, etc.) and whom the child(ren) shall live with.
If one parent is to have care and control of the child(ren), the other parent should have access to the child(ren). Access can be liberal or reasonable. If Parties are able to effectively communicable and effectively co-parent, precise access timings need not be stipulated. In such situations, access to the parent without care and control can be arranged and mutually agreed upon.
Division of Matrimonial Home and Matrimonial Assets
Parties have several options when it comes to dealing with the matrimonial home, namely:
- The sale of matrimonial property in an open market, with Parties agreeing on how the proceeds of the sale are to be divided;
- One party may purchase the other’s share in the matrimonial home, at a price that is agreed between Parties;
- The matrimonial home can be transferred to one party, at a price that is agreed between Parties; and
- In cases where a HDB property is involved, if the Minimum Occupation Period is not met, Parties may have to surrender the property to the Housing Development Board.
For options ii. and iii. above, the buying/receiving Party would have to refund the CPF amount utilised by the other Party towards the purchase of property (with accrued interest).
As for the division of all other assets, Parties may decide how this is to be effected. Matrimonial assets may be divided in the following manner:
- The assets are to be retained in Parties’ respective sole names, with joint assets (i.e. joint bank accounts) being divided in proportions that they agree upon;
- The entire pool of matrimonial assets is split in proportions that Parties agree upon; or
- For individual assets to be divided in a manner that Parties agree upon.
Spousal and Child(ren) maintenance
Parties must agree on the amount of maintenance the wife shall receive, if any. Spousal maintenance can be in the form of monthly payments or a lump sum.
Parties would also have to agree on their respective contributions to the child(ren)’s monthly maintenance.
Costs of the Proceedings
Parties must agree on who bears the cost of the divorce proceedings. Parties can agree to bear their own cost, or have either party bear the cost for both sides.
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