Guide to Divorce Settlements in Singapore
A divorce need not necessarily be the stressful and emotionally draining process it is often depicted as.
If both parties are able to come to a consensus about how they want to finalise their divorce (i.e., having an “uncontested divorce”), neither party need ever set foot in a courtroom.
What are the benefits?
- Avoiding months of expensive and tedious courtroom hearings.
- Parties are afforded privacy in settling their disputes away from the public eye.
- Choosing to settle a divorce amicably allows parties to have more say in the outcome – parties are in the best position to understand their own circumstances and make the best decisions for themselves and their children, as opposed to having a judge decide for them.
Attempting a divorce settlement does not necessarily mean that you are “settling” for anything less than you deserve – it simply means having the wisdom to choose your battles wisely.
A good divorce lawyer will be able to help you assess your unique situation, understand your rights, and best advise you on what you should be negotiating for.
Your divorce lawyer will be able to help you address the key issues that apply to your specific circumstances and assess the likely outcome in the event that you proceed to court.
BEFORE: What do I need to prepare before negotiations?
Preparing a list of reasonable demands based on the facts of your case is crucial to a successful divorce settlement.
Some of the things your lawyer should discuss with you are:
- Information about your property, such as the value of your matrimonial home and any other properties you and your spouse might own;
- Financial information, including your savings, debt, CPF balances, shares, businesses, and insurance amounts. This also includes your and your spouse’s income and expenses.
- Information about your children (if any), such as who was the primary caretaker and how the best interests of the child would be served in future arrangements;
- Information relating to the calculation of maintenance for yourself and your children, including any costs of current and future living expenses (e.g. childcare, education, healthcare, etc.)
Your matrimonial lawyer should also help you to understand and prioritise the most important things to you. While preparing, it is important to understand that you may not necessarily get everything you ask for.
In such scenarios, avoid letting your emotions dictate your desires – keep a cool head and fight for what you truly value.
In a recent case, a divorced couple fought for over 1.5 years and all the way up to the High Court, all just for a judgement on who would get to eat reunion dinner with their son on the eve of Chinese New Year.
Not only did they expend unnecessary time, money, and effort on a futile venture, the acrimonious nature of litigation also led to a deterioration of relations between the parents, hindering their ability to work together in the future to care for their child, a victim in the crossfire between his parents.
“While certain matters may feel important now, they may not be so in the long run.”
DURING: What should I do during divorce settlement negotiations?
Your lawyer will help you identify and address what is important to you in the negotiations, including;
- matters on division of matrimonial assets,
- any custody or care arrangements for your children and,
- and discussions on maintenance.
Being prepared to listen and compromise with your spouse may encourage him or her to do the same, allowing for a more amicable settlement.
Something else to keep in mind is that negotiations for a settlement agreement are what keeps parties out of court, where a judge will have the power to make all decisions for you based on his assessment of what is fair based on the facts regardless of your opinion.