The Brief on the Divorce Process in Singapore
Filing for divorce in Singapore
In order to file for divorce in Singapore, at least one of the parties must be a Singaporean citizen or a permanent resident of Singapore. The divorce must be filed in the Family Court. Parties are also required to be married for at least 3 years before filing for divorce in Singapore.
Grounds for divorce in Singapore
There is only one ground for divorce in Singapore: the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. This can be demonstrated by one of the five facts as follows:
- Adultery is defined as an act of infidelity committed by either party during the marriage,
- Desertion is defined as one party leaving the matrimonial home without the consent of the other party, and without any intention of returning,
- Unreasonable behavior is defined as one party behaving in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for the other party to continue living with them,
- Separation is defined as both parties living separately continuously for a period of 3 years (with spouse’s consent) or;
- Separation for a period of 4 years (without spouse’s consent). This would be a no-fault divorce ground and is commonly used by parties who intend to split amicably.
The divorce process in Singapore
The first step in the divorce process is to file a Writ of Divorce and Statement of Particulars with the Family Court. The Writ of Divorce is a document that states that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that the parties are seeking a divorce. The Statement of Particulars is a document that provides information about the parties, their marriage, and their grounds for divorce.
Serving the divorce papers
Once the divorce papers have been filed, they must be served on the other party. This can be done by way of personal service (i.e. hand-delivering them). In the event personal service is unsuccessful, leave of Court is required to serve the papers by way of substituted service (i.e. sending them by registered mail, or email, or publishing them in a local newspaper).
Responding to the divorce papers
The other party has 8 days to enter an appearance, and 14 days thereafter to respond to the divorce papers once they have been served. If they do not respond, they will be deemed to have consented to the divorce. If they do respond, they can contest the divorce or agree to it.
Appearing in court
If either party contests the divorce, both parties will have to appear in court for a hearing. At the hearing, each party will present their case and evidence to support their claims. After hearing both sides, the judge will make a decision on whether or not to grant the divorce.
Obtaining a divorce certificate
If the Court is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the Court will grant an Interim Judgment. There is a 3-month cooling-off period before the Final Judgment can be granted. In the event parties go through contested proceedings, the Final Judgment will only be granted upon the conclusion of all ancillary matters such as the child issues, maintenance and division of assets. Once the Final Judgment is issued, the marriage will be deemed dissolved.