Pre-Conditions under Singapore Law
Parties must have been married for a minimum of three years before they can be granted a divorce. If parties have been married for less than three years, a spouse may ask for permission from the Family Justice Courts to file for divorce if it can be down that great hardship or depravity will result in the continuance of the marriage.
Further, you or your spouse must have been living in Singapore for at least three years before commencing divorce proceedings in Singapore.
Mandatory Parenting Programme (prior to divorce)
With effect from 1 December 2016, parties with children below 14 years old are required to attend the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) prior to filing for divorce. Eligible parties who do not attend the MPP will be unable to file for divorce.
The MPP is a one-to-one consultation session with a counsellor aimed at helping parents to understand the implications of a divorce – the financial costs, children's arrangements and parental obligations. This is mandatory under the Women’s Charter if parties do not yet have a signed formal agreement pertaining to a parenting plan and all other divorce matters.
The MPP can be applied at your convenience using your SingPass at the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s website. You may also check your eligibility for the MPP via the website.
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1st Stage – The Reason for Divorce
In an application for divorce, the Court requires the applicant / applicants to provide a reason for the divorce.
There are a range of reasons on which the Plaintiff may base his/her application, including:
The Defendant has behaved in such a manner that the Plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Defendant;
The Defendant has abandoned the Plaintiff for at least 2 years immediately before filing for divorce;
Parties have lived apart continuously for at least 3 years immediately before filing for divorce, and the Defendant agrees to a divorce;
Parties have lived apart continuously for at least 4 years immediately before filing for divorce; or
The Defendant has committed adultery and the Plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the Defendant.
The Court must be satisfied that one of these reasons for the irretrievable breakdown of marriage has been satisfied before a divorce order can be granted.
2nd Stage – Ancillary Matters
The 2nd Stage of a divorce in Singapore deals with all other arrangements necessary in a divorce, otherwise known as “ancillary matters”. Such matters include:
Division of matrimonial assets, including the matrimonial home;
Maintenance for the wife/decapacitated husband and/or children of the marriage;
Custody, care and control and access to the children of the marriage.
As every divorce case is specific to its particular circumstances, speak to us if you wish to find out more about your obligations / entitlements in a divorce.
Annulment Of The Marriage
The effect of an annulment is to render a marriage null and void. In this way, it is different from a divorce. There is no minimum period of time before one can file for annulment.
There are a few grounds the Plaintiff can rely on, namely:
Either spouse lacks capacity to consummate the marriage;
The Defendant has willfully refused to consummate the marriage;
There was no valid consent from either spouse to the marriage;
The Defendant was suffering from a sexually transmitted infection or disease during the marriage; or
The Defendant was already married at the time of registration of the marriage.
To find out if an annulment applies in your circumstances, please speak to us directly.
It must also be noted that a sham marriage contracted for the purpose of immigration advantages will be deemed void and may also invite penal consequences such as a jail term and a fine.
Wish to book a consultation?
If you wish to enquire more about the divorce / annulment process, contact us at any of our branches for a free 15-min consultation with any of our available lawyers. Kindly ensure that you bring the following documents with you to your first consultation:
1. NRICs of yourself and your spouse;
2. Marriage Certificate;
3. Birth Certificate and/or NRIC of all children (if any);
4. Deed of Separation (if any);
5. Previous court orders such as Personal Protection Orders (PPO), Maintenance Orders (MSS) etc (if any);
4. Outstanding loan statements from the bank and/or Housing Development Board (if any); and
5. CPF Housing Withdrawal Statement (if any).