Notaries Public. Commissioners for Oaths
Practice Areas
Family Law
Home > Practice Areas > Family Law

Family law consists of a body of statutes and case precedents that govern the legal responsibilities between individuals who share a domestic connection. These cases usually involve parties who are related by blood or marriage, but family law can affect those in more distant or informal relationships as well.

The end of a relationship or marriage is a difficult time. Our experience has shown us that avoiding a litigation process is generally the best way forward. This will most likely save you time, money and achieve a better outcome.

Our team of experienced family lawyers can give you comprehensive advice about your legal rights, entitlements and obligations, as well as the different options available to settle any matters that you and your partner may disagree on.

Such matters include:

  • Parental rights & obligations
  • Collaborative Family Practice
  • Divorce proceedings
  • Judicial separation
  • Nullity
  • Deed of separation
  • Separation of assets
  • Domestic violence
Benefits Of Working With Hoh Law Corporation

As one of the largest family law firms by volume in Singapore today, we have both the experience and capacity to handle cases just like yours. We will position our expertise to enable the most favourable outcomes for you by :

  • Assessing your case thoroughly by focusing on the present and future needs of all parties involved
  • Advising you on how best to protect your own interests
  • Preparing you for court appearances by running through the process and guiding you each step of the way
  • Concluding your case quickly and smoothly so that you may be free from your emotional entanglements as soon as possible
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.

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:

  • , including the matrimonial home;
  • Maintenance for the wife/decapacitated husband and/or children of the marriage;
  • 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:

  • NRICs of yourself and your spouse;
  • Marriage Certificate;
  • Birth Certificate and/or NRIC of all children (if any);
  • Deed of Separation (if any);
  • Previous court orders such as Personal Protection Orders (PPO), Maintenance Orders (MSS) etc (if any);
  • Outstanding loan statements from the bank and/or Housing Development Board (if any); and
  • CPF Housing Withdrawal Statement (if any).
Key Terms and Definitions

In Singapore, the Women’s Charter defines a ‘child’ as a child of a marriage who is under 21 years of age.

There are 3 important concepts in relation to Child Orders:

Custody

Firstly, Custody refers to the legal decision-making authority in regards to the child’s well-being. This decision-making authority is usually in regard to major life issues such as religion, education, health and activities. In recent years, the Court has shown tendencies to award both parents joint custody such that both parents would be involved and consulted in making the major decisions for their child. However, in special circumstances where the Court deems one parent unfit to make decisions for the child, the Court may grant sole custody to one parent. Further, there may be situations where the Court may feel that the child’s custody is better off with a relative or a children’s welfare organisation, instead of with the parents.

Care and Control

Care and control, on the other hand, refers to the day-to-day living arrangements of the child. Under normal circumstances, the Court usually grants one parent care and control of the child, while the other parent would get access to the child. The parent who retains care and control of the child is usually whom the child resides with on a regular basis.

Access

Custody and/or care and control given to one parent does not necessarily preclude the other parent from child access. Often, the other parent is given time to spend with the child of the marriage on a regular basis. This arrangement is known as “access”. Access can be supervised or unsupervised, overnight or day access.

However, the Court may deny access to either party if such access would likely be detrimental to the well-being of the child and is against his / her best interests. It would thus be ideal for both parents to draft out a suitable, convenient and reasonable time for individual access to the child of the marriage. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, the Court will decide on a course of action after hearing both sides. These arrangements when done right will minimize the psychological trauma of the child.

Who and When to Apply for Child Orders

Any parent can request for the custody and/or the care and control of the child who is deemed as such under the Women’s Charter.

Either parent can apply for the custody and/or the care and control and/or access of the child at any time during the marriage, separation or during court proceedings in a divorce lawsuit.

How To Apply For Child Orders

Either parent who wishes to be the custodian of the child of the marriage will have to apply to the Family Court or the High Court for the custody and/or the care and control and/or access of the child.

Considerations For Child Orders

In the eyes of the law, the interests of the child of the marriage is paramount. The Court’s key concern is therefore: who can best serve the emotional and financial needs of the child?

In deciding who to give custodial rights and/or the care and control and/or access of the child to, the Court may also take into account the wishes of either party as well as the wishes of the child of the marriage (if the child is old enough to express an opinion).

Taking The Child Out Of The Country

The child is not allowed to be taken out of Singapore without prior consent from the other parent.

If any such implicitly worded or actions surface prior to the ‘abduction’, the custodial party may obtain an order from Court to prevent the other party from taking the child out of the country. Disobeying a Court Order could be considered a contempt of Court punishable with a fine or imprisonment.

What Are Considered Matrimonial Assets?
  • Any asset acquired before the marriage by one party or both parties but ordinarily used or enjoyed by both parties or their children while residing together during the marriage;
  • Any assets acquired before the marriage by one party or both parties but which have been substantially improved during the marriage by one party or both parties to the marriage;
  • Any other assets of any nature acquired during the marriage.

Matrimonial assets therefore do not include assets that were given to one party as a gift or inheritance unless the other party can show that the said gift or inheritance has been substantially improved during the marriage by him/her or both the parties, or that the gift or inheritance is the matrimonial home.

The cash balance in parties’ respective Central Provident Fund Accounts, the family vehicle, jewellery, shares, savings accumulated during the marriage are considered matrimonial assets and are therefore liable to be divided between parties upon the marriage being dissolved.

How Are Matrimonial Assets Divided?

After a marriage has been dissolved, the Court has the unenviable task of deciding how the matrimonial assets are to be divided between the husband and the wife.

In deciding on the division of the matrimonial assets, the Court will take into account various factors including but not limited to:

  • The extent of the contributions made by each party in money, property or work towards acquiring, improving or maintaining the matrimonial assets;
  • The needs of the children of the marriage;
  • The extent of the contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home or caring for the dependents of either party; and
  • Any agreement between the parties with respect to the ownership and division of the matrimonial assets made in contemplation of divorce.
How We Can Help You Negotiate A Better Deal For Yourself

Unfortunately, it is not unusual for fighting spouses to attempt to hide assets in a contentious divorce. We will help track all your matrimonial assets in divorce proceedings and identify any potentially undervalued or disguised assets, ensuring that you receive a fair division of your matrimonial assets. Get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can help you protect your interests earliest possible.

Why Mediate?

Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement. In family mediation, you and your spouse — or, in some cases, the two of you and your respective lawyers — hire a neutral third party (a mediator) to serve as a facilitator between you and your spouse, and aid in the resolution of all matters pertaining to the divorce.

Mediation can work for almost all couples and has a long list of benefits:

  • Less expensive than a court trial or a series of hearings.
  • Usually ends in a settlement of all of the issues in your divorce.
  • Confidential, with no public record of your mediation sessions.
  • Resolution can be achieved with more flexible rules compared to the strict legal principles of the Court as you and your spouse can control the process.
  • Availability of a lawyer to provide legal advice.
  • Less acrimonious than the court process and may help improve communication between you and your spouse in order to avoid future conflicts.
Do I have to attend mediation?

During divorce proceedings, all families with children below 21 years of age are required to attend mandatory counselling at the Child Focused Resolution Centre (CFRC). Thereafter a mediation session will be fixed with the Family Justice Courts (FJC). The mediation process is usually beneficial to both parties in relation to ancillary issues and parties are strongly encouraged to attend. The court may also order parties to attend mediation under certain circumstances.

As of October 2016, parties with divorce cases that meet the following criteria will be ordered by the FJC to attend mediation conducted by private mediation providers such as the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC):

  • There are no contested child issues; and
  • There is a contested issue relating to assets where the gross value of all known assets is S$3 million or above.
Family (Matrimonial) Mediation Scheme

Litigation of matrimonial matters can be expensive, protracted and exact a significant emotional toll on the parties involved.

In Singapore, the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) has a range of family services aimed at resolving the issues of a marriage without further damaging relationships.

SMC has developed the Family (Matrimonial) Mediation Scheme to help parties involved in matrimonial cases resolve matrimonial disputes amicably, and in a faster and cheaper manner. Mediation can assist couples who are going through divorce or separation resolve complicated issues in the dispute. Such issues may include custody of children, spousal maintenance, division of family assets and other financial matters arising from the breakdown of the relationship.

The aim of the Family (Matrimonial) Mediation Scheme is to:

  • Encourage a constructive and conciliatory approach to the resolution of matrimonial disputes;
  • Resolve matrimonial disputes in an effective and timely way;
  • Help maintain long-term family relationships and reduce emotional turmoil for parties; and
  • Ensure that costs are kept affordable for parties.

Mediating your marital matters gives you a high chance of settlement, control over the outcome, cost and time savings, and prevents further damage to your relationships.

Collaborative Family Practice

Collaborative Family Practice (“CFP”) is a process of dispute resolution whereby parties contemplating a divorce may be assisted by their respective lawyers to achieve a peaceful settlement without going through the painful litigation process.

Under the CFP framework, parties attend mediation sessions in private with their respective lawyers (who are accredited by the Singapore Mediation Centre in collaboration with the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals), who will assist parties in resolving any outstanding conflicts in relation to their divorce, such as child custody, division of assets and maintenance issues.

One unique characteristic of the CFP framework is that parties’ lawyers are not allowed to represent their respective clients in the case where a settlement cannot be reached through CFP. As such, this creates a friendly and non-contentious environment where parties can freely negotiate for a settlement without the emotional and financial stresses of a lawsuit.

Hoh Law Corporation has a team of experienced family law staff ready to handle your CFP process and resolve your matrimonial issues quickly and amicably.

Please contact us to find out more about the various dispute resolution options available to you.

How Will Hoh Law Corporation Help During The Mediation Process?

Negotiating agreements is not an easy process. We will help you :

  • Stay on track and fully protect your interests
  • Encourage both parties to express opinions and positions
  • Provide an objective and fair perspective from an outsider’s point of view
  • Help move the process along through the drafting of formal agreements and other paperwork
  • Communicate the pitfalls or benefits of the decisions taken during this process

The two most important things you can do to make your mediation successful are:

  • listen and try to understand your spouse’s point of view, and
  • be open to compromise

If you have booked a consultation for divorce/separation/children issues with us, please bring along the following documents:

  • Your Marriage Certificate [if applicable];
  • Your original NRIC;
  • Copy of your spouse’s NRIC [if applicable];
  • Copy of your child(ren)’s NRIC/Birth Certificates [if applicable].
Contact Us
Send us an enquiry

Thank you for choosing HOH Law Corporation. For any general enquiries, please fill in the following contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively, you may reach us at 6553 4800.

Top