divorce in singapore
Divorce in Singapore has 2 stages: Termination of Marriage and Ancillary Matters

According to the Women’s Charter of Singapore, in order to qualify for a divorce in Singapore you will need to meet 2 requirements.

1. You or your spouse must be domiciled in Singapore at the start of the proceedings. This means that your permanent home is in Singapore and that your stay here is not temporary (e.g. for study / work purposes).  

An alternative would be either of you or your spouse have resided in Singapore for 3 years before the start of the proceedings.

2. Married for at least 3 years. If you are married for less than three years, you may check to see if you can apply for an annulment instead

Stage 1: Termination of Marriage

The Court will decide whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down and should be dissolved based on the grounds(reasons) provided. The 4 valid reasons of divorce are Adultery, Desertation, Separation and Unreasonable Behaviour. At the end of Stage 1, if t At the end of this stage, if the judge has granted the termination of the marriage, you and your spouse will receive an Interim Judgement.

Stage 2: Decide on Ancillary Matters

In Stage 2, you and your spouse will have to resolve issues related to the divorce, such as the custody of your children, the division of the matrimonial home and other assets as well as the maintenance of the wife and child. You and your spouse will first have to attend mediation to see if these issues can be resolved outside of Court, otherwise both parties will have to go to Court. At the end of Stage 2, you and your spouse will be granted a Final Judgement.

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average timeline: 

9 months – 18 months 

1) File Paperwork

  • Writ for Divorce
  • Statement of Claim
  • Statement of Particulars
  • Memorandum of Appearance

Estimated time: 1 month to prepare

2) Interim Judgement

Pre-Trial Conference or Mediation conducted  to resolve the reason for divorce outside of Court

If mediation is unsuccessful, both parties will have to attend trial in Court, and the Court will grant an Interim Judgement for the termination of marriage

Estimated time:  4-6 months after filing papers

3) Final Judgement

Pre-Trial Conference or Mediation conducted  to resolve ancillary matters outside of Court

If mediation is unsuccessful, both parties will have to attend trial in Court to decide on the division of assets and grant the Final Judgement

Estimated time:  4-12 months after obtaining interim judgment

average timeline: 

6-7 months 

1) File Paperwork

  • Writ for Divorce
  • Statement of Claim
  • Statement of Particulars
  • Memorandum of Appearance
  • Proposed Parenting Plan by both parents (if applicable)
  • Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan (if applicable)

Estimated time: 1 month to prepare

2) Interim Judgement

After filing papers, a hearing date will be given by the Court for the termination of marriage. 

Usually both parties do not need to attend Court. 

Estimated time: 3 months after filing papers

3) Final Judgement

Estimated time: 3 months after Interim Judgement, the Final Judgement will be granted.

COMMON QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Contested 

A Contested divorce in Singapore means that you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on one or more marital issues and will have to resolve it in family justice courts. 

During the legal procedure of a contested divorce, either party will have to attend trial to provide evidence to support your respective cases for the Court to judge on how that issue is to be resolved. 

An example is if you deem that your spouse is intolerable to live with due to family violence or suffered exceptional hardship, you will be required to substantiate that claim with specific proof. 

It is recommended to call for the services of a lawyer in this situation.

The fee for an uncontested divorce in Singapore is usually are charged by the hour of the lawyer’s service as the cases are more complicated. 

There are also additional costs incurred during the divorce proceedings of a contested divorce shown below. In total these things costs generally include a range from $15,000 to $30 000 in Singapore. All expected costs listed below are estimated 

  • Exchange of Pleadings: $2500 to $3200
  • Divorce Mediation and counselling: $500 to $2000 per attendance
  • Trial on Reason for Divorce: $5000 to $15 000
  • Ancillary Matters Case Conference: $350 per session
  • Exchange of Affidavits of Assets and Means: $2500 to $4500 per affidavit
  • Contested Ancillary Matters Hearing: $4000 to $7000

In a Contested Divorce in Singapore, both the plaintiff and defendant will need to attend trial provide evidence. Witnesses may be also required to attend trial to further support your case. 

There are two stages to this process, the first stage is contesting the reason for divorce, and the second stage is contesting ancillary matters, such as custody of the children, division of the matrimonial assets or maintenance of the wife and children.

Before going to Court, you and your spouse will have to attend a Pre-Trial Conference, or meditation. This is to see if there are issues between you and your spouse that can be settled outside of Court, and reduce the number of contested issues. 

However if the mediation or the pre-trial conference does not fully resolve all the contested matters, you and your spouse will have to go on trial. Depending on what is contested, this means that the Court will look at the evidence that has been provided by you and your spouse and decide whether to grant the divorce and decide on ancillary matters.

Representing yourself in a court situation is not a recommended because the legalities are very complex for someone who is not legally educated. In such a situation it is best to consult a family court lawyer for legal advice. 

This form of litigation may extend over an extended period of time, and may risk ending up with a less favorable settlement for you in the event that you do not have an experienced and good divorce lawyer to protect your interests in areas such as spousal maintenance, or if in disadvantaged situations such as having committed adultery.

Uncontested 

An Uncontested Divorce in Singapore means that you and your spouse agree on all issues of your divorce privately. This includes child custody, property division among others. 

The filing fees for an uncontested divorce in Singapore are usually a flat fee of $1500 to $3500 depending on whether there are children or assets to divide.

In an Uncontested Divorce in Singapore, you will usually not be required to attend trial. After the paperwork is filed and a hearing date is set, you will obtain the interim judgement after the hearing, and the final judgement after 3 months from the interim judgement

You may choose to file the divorce papers without a personal lawyer, however the complete process is tedious and time consuming. If the paperwork application that you submit has any errors and is filed incorrectly, the petition will get rejected and cause further delays, or it may also require you to start all over again and incur more fees. As such, if you consider the amount of time you have to spend to manage all of the paperwork yourself, along with the complications when negotiating terms with your spouse and the hassle to file on your own, it would be advisable to look for the help of a top divorce lawyer for advice, so all the complex and time-consuming process can be handled professionally for you without causing you further stress or anxiety. 

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