Divorce process in Singapore

What is the process for divorce in Singapore?

Divorce in Singapore involves 2 stages, the Dissolution of Marriage and the handling of Ancillary Matters (which covers aspects such as custody of children, division of matrimonial properties and spousal maintenance).

If the divorce is accepted by the court then an interim judgement will be granted to dissolve the marriage. At this point you proceed to settle on the ancillary matters.

Parties are required to wait for 3 months (from the date of the interim judgment being granted) in order to apply to have this turned into a final judgment and thus complete the divorce process.

Are you eligible to divorce in Singapore?

Before even commencing the process, you must check your eligibility for divorce in Singapore. The following aspects must be met:

  1. The person filing for divorce, must be domiciled in Singapore during the commencement of divorce proceedings (‘domicile’ means to treat Singapore as a permanent home);
  2. The person filing, must have resided in Singapore for a minimum of 3 years, before divorce proceedings are commenced; and
  3. Have been married for a minimum of 3 years, except if the party filing for divorce has suffered unbearable hardship or exceptionally cruel behaviour.

Do you have legal grounds to succeed in filing for a divorce?

It is also compulsory for the party filing for divorce to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down due to one or more ot the following reasons:

Adultery

You must be able to prove that your spouse has committed adultery, particularly if your spouse is unwilling to admit this directly. In certain situations you may wish to hire a private investigator to gather the necessary evidence.

Unreasonable behaviour

Your spouse has behaved in an unreasonable manner, such that you can no longer live together. There is many forms of unreasonable behaviour that sits under this broad category.

Desertion

Your spouse has deserted you for a period of more than 2 years and shown no signs of willingness to return.

Separation

If the parties have been separated for a period of 3 years then you may apply on this ground if both parties consent to the divorce. If the parties have been separated for 4 years or more then you may apply for divorce even without the other parties consent.

See our more detailed article on the legal grounds for divorce in singapore.

What documents need to be created and filed?

The party filing for divorce needs to file 3 types of documents, these are:

  1. Writ for Divorce
  2. Statement of Claim
  3. Statement of Particulars

Step 1: Dissolution of Marriage

After serving of the above-mentioned documents to your spouse, they are given 8 days to decide whether to contest the divorce.

If they choose to contest the divorce, they are required to file 2 types of documents as follows:

  1. Memorandum of Appearance
  2. Defence

Our advice is always try to avoid a contested divorce. It is time consuming, emotionally painful, and can become a very costly endeavour. You may wish to request a resolution consultation with either of the below, that might help to reach an amicable resolution between parties:

  1. Resolution Conference with a Family Resolutions Chambers’ judge
  2. Counselling Session with a Court Counsellor

If such alternatives cannot resolve the divorce case in an amicable manner, the divorce case will be transferred to the court. The court will examine whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

However, if  your spouse decides not to contest the divorce, but intends to challenge the ancillary matters, they should file the Memorandum of Appearance to highlight the ancillary matters he/she intends to challenge.

If the court concludes that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the court will grant an Interim Judgment, which is an order to dissolve the marriage. The court then proceeds to decide the ancillary matters.

Step 2: Ancillary Matters

Before the court decides on the ancillary matters, both parties must file the document of Affidavits of Assets and Means. The parties shall disclose all assets and liabilities, earnings and expenditure in their affidavits. The parties may exchange their affidavits a maximum of 3 times.

If the total net value of the matrimonial asset(s) exceeds $1.5 million, the divorce case will be transferred to the High Court.

After the filing and exchange of documents, the court will set a date to hear the ancillary matters.

After settlement of all ancillary matters, parties are required to wait for 3 months (from the date of the interim judgment) in order to apply for converting this into a final judgment, at which point the divorce is final.

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