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Find The Best Singapore Divorce Lawyer:
The Complete Guide For 2019

This is a complete guide to help you find and choose the best divorce lawyer in Singapore to meet your needs.
Going through a divorce is complicated and finding a good divorce lawyer may not be your main priority. However, having an experienced divorce lawyer to guide you through the entire process will not only give you a peace of mind, but also resolve your divorce case sooner

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Types of divorce

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You and your spouse agree on all issues. This includes child custody, property division among others.

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Contested

You and your spouse cannot agree on one or more issues, so the court must decide for you

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Fault

The person filing for divorce accuses their spouse of committing wrongdoing, such as unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertation​

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No fault

If you are unable to prove adultery, unreasonable behavior or desertation, separation may be the only grounds for divorce. Separation is a common solution for couples in Singapore

What does a divorce lawyer do?

  • Check if you are eligible for divorce

This is the most important first step of the divorce process. A divorce lawyer will assess your situation to see if you meet the legal requirements to file a divorce. This is because not every marriage is qualified to file for a divorce. A divorce lawyer in Singapore will be able to advise if you are eligible and also provide you advice and alternative options.

  • Help you understand the process

A divorce can be a complicated process. A divorce lawyer will help you understand the entire process of what you are about to go through, as well as guide you along at every step of the way until you reach a resolution.

  • Advise you on strategy and budget

An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to explain to you just how likely it is that you’ll get what you’re looking for from the divorce. A lawyer can also help you formulate a strategy for your situation, provide a rough timeline of how long it will take, and provide an estimated budget for you to consider.

  • Negotiate on your behalf

Trying to negotiate the terms of divorce with your spouse on your own can difficult. A divorce lawyer can make the process simpler by handling communication and negotiation for you on issues such as child or spousal maintenance. Occasionally it can be difficult to get your spouse to turn over financial details. A lawyer in Singapore is able to induce your partner to provide information in their investments, retirement accounts, as well as pensions.

  • Handle paperwork and file motions resolve matrimonial issues

While you can complete the paperwork on your own, it’s easy to make mistakes when you are not familiar with divorce process. A divorce lawyer works with the court on a regular basis and will know exactly what to expect. They can make sure your divorce is not delayed or complicated by problems with the paperwork. The process also involves you having to make important decisions such as “who lives in the marital house ?” Or”how will custody of children work?” Your lawyer can file motions to set resolutions answering these queries.

When to hire a divorce lawyer?

Some divorce cases are more complex than others. In some cases, not retaining a lawyer puts your financial future or your parental rights at risk. Here are a few scenarios when hiring a divorce lawyer is usually the best plan.

     Contested Divorce

A contested divorce takes place when a couple cannot agree out of court on at least one of these difficulties. This means you are going to need to go to court to solve them, which is a high-stakes process that could be tricky to take on without a lawyer’s help. here are some examples of contested divorce

Example 1: Your spouse can establish wrongdoing: If your spouse is able to prove wrongdoing on your part such as infidelity and has hired a lawyer, you should employ a lawyer to negotiate terms. Without having a lawyer of similar expertise and resources would put you in a great disadvantage in court. Also, as soon as you get a lawyer, your partner’s lawyer is ethically prohibited from communicating with you without your lawyer’s approval.

Example 2: You are dealing with divorce disputes: If you and your spouse can not agree on a custody arrangement, you’ll need to show that your proposition is in the best interest of your children at the end of your marriage. A Singaporelawyer can build a case for your personal protection from allegations such as of unfit parenting or unreasonable behaviour and study any relevant information about your spouse.

     Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is where the the couple is able to negotiate and settle their conflicts and divorce matters outside of court. As a result, uncontested divorces resolve more quickly and are less costly than a contested divorce. You may choose to handle an uncontested divorce yourself. However, this is a time-consuming process with and can be complicated for someone who is not legally trained.

Even if your spouse may agree on all the issues with regards to the divorce, a divorce lawyer can help file the necessary paperwork and procedures quickly and accurately. A divorce lawyer would have the experience of handling similar cases and are able to help you through the divorce process far more quickly than if you were to complete it by yourself.

A divorce lawyer will be able to assist with the following in an uncontested divorce:

  • Answer your queries and advise if an uncontested divorce is right for you
  • Help you complete the divorce paperwork and ensure they are filed correctly
  • Send your spouse a notice for the divorce filing
  • Draft the divorce settlement agreement as well as the parenting plan
  • Negotiate the terms of divorce with your spouse’s lawyer

4 Easy Steps to Hire The Best Divorce Lawyer

Step 1: Find Contacts for Lawyers with Good Track Records

Google – Do an internet search for terms such as ” best divorce lawyers in Singapore” or ” divorce lawyer in Singapore”  and “Singapore divorce” and visit the websites of the law firms in Singapore to seek legal advice. Check to see if they have testimonial articles from their clients for divorce cases, as well as how many years of experience the lawyers possess. Note down their contact details for reference later.

Friends and Family – As difficult as it is talking to someone else about the divorce, it can be a good idea to also ask someone close to you if they are able to recommend any lawyers. They may have personally gone through or know someone who has gone through a it and can give you a first hand experience of working with a lawyer and give you recommendations.

Ministry of Law – You can also directly check with the Ministry of Law of Singapore to find all the available Law Practices here in Singapore and to read on divorce law. This is the most extensive list of available lawyers that you can find here in Singapore. In order to search this database, visit the website, click on Advanced Filters and highlight Family Law to the Practice Area filter, then click the right arrow to add it to the “Selected” section. You may also use this to find the contact details for a specific lawyer that you may be looking for.  

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Step 2: Reach Out and Consult With at Least 3 Lawyers

There are lawyers who provide a free first consultation, so reach out to them and see if they provide this. A free initial consultation will give you a chance to get to know the lawyer and give you an idea if the lawyer meets your requirements. Dont make the mistake of hiring the first lawyer that you contact. Here are some things to look out for when you speak to the lawyer:

Experienced. Divorce can be a complicated procedure. Having an experienced divorce lawyer will make the process smoother and can help resolve any conflicts that may arise during the process. Ask how many years have they handled divorce cases and check their websites for testimonials or awards to see the feedback they get with regards to handling divorce cases.

Responsive. One of the biggest complaints about lawyers in Singapore is their unresponsiveness to emails or calls. Make sure your lawyer will be an attentive one and responds quickly to your initial call or email.

Open and transparent You should have an idea of what your divorce lawyer will cost you, along with the settlement you will likely receive after the initial consultation with the lawyer.  They may charge either a flat fee or by the hour. The fee for an uncontested divorce in Singapore is usually a flat fee of $1500 to $2500 depending on whether there are children or assets to divide. Contested divorces usually are charged by the hour of the lawyer’s service as the cases are more complicated and these cost about $15,000 generally in Singapore.

Step 3: The 5 Most Important Questions To Ask Your Lawyer

So you have reached out to the lawyer, now what? To make the most of your initial consultation and see whether the lawyer is a good fit, ask the following questions to during the appointment. This will give you an idea of what to expect, and more importantly, to see if you feel comfortable and trust the  divorce lawyer enough to handle the divorce for you. Make sure to ask the following:

1) What your options are and what he will do for you. A good lawyer will seek to first understand your marital background, if you have any shared assets with your spouse, as well as your intended budget. Experienced divorce lawyers should also help you understand the divorce process and formulate a divorce plan that is appropriate for your needs and budget.

2) How often does the lawyer handle divorce cases? This is to see if he has the experience and testimonials from previous clients to prove that he is capable to handle your divorce case and if divorce is a specialization at the law firm here in Singapore. This ensures that your divorce case will be handled by a specialist in a smooth and professional manner

3) What are the costs? Lawyers have varying rates since it’s a personal service that is determined by the specific law practice. You should budget at least $1500 for legal fees even the least expensive option. The most important thing is that the lawyer ought to be transparent regarding the prices for every stage of the case. Admittedly, it is more challenging to estimate the prices in the event of a contested divorce, but there is still a scale for charges, and maybe a maximum charge cap that can be imposed.

4) How long will the process take ? A good lawyer ought to be able to give you an estimate of how long the procedure will take, depending on the type of divorce.

5) How much of a role will you play ? Some family lawyers may suggest that you handle certain tasks on your own to keep down divorce fees.

Step 4: Checklist to Help You Choose The Best Divorce Lawyer

With the answers to these 5 questions, you will be able to narrow down and review which is the best divorce law firm in Singapore to help you with your case. Some may simply choose the cheapest option to save costs, however there are other important factors to consider that may even affect the result

– Does the lawyer specialize in divorce cases? having a specialized Singapore divorce lawyer that helps ensure that the proceedings are completed smoothly, especially in complicated situations like a contested divorce. Some law firms in Singapore with the largest teams may have a specific team of lawyers that specialize and handle divorce cases primarily.

– Is the lawyer caring and attentive when you speak? Going through a divorce is a painful journey, and if the lawyer is uninterested, judgemental or uncaring, he does not deserve to handle your case

– Is the lawyer responsive? Does the lawyer reply your emails and answer your calls promptly? If they are difficult to contact in the initial stages of the case, they are likely to remain the same way in the midst of the divorce case as well and will not be a good choice

– Did the lawyer provide a full breakdown of the price? If you are going through an uncontested divorce, there is usually a flat rate to pay. For a contested divorce the price structure may vary, but it is important that the lawyer is upfront about what charges will be imposed

Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Women’s Charter matrimonial law, there are two requirements before you can be eligible for a divorce (applicable for Singaporeans)
1) You must be married for at least 3 years
2) You are required to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

This can be done by if you are able to prove at least one of the four legally defined facts as grounds for divorce in Singapore
a) Adultery
b) Desertation
c) Unreasonable behaviour
d) Separation
The cost of having a divorce in Singapore varies depending on the type of divorce that you and your spouse will proceed with.
An uncontested divorce usually more affordable as it has a fixed fee of $1500 for divorce if there is no children, maintenance or division of matrimonial assets (like the house) involved. If there is any legalities involving children, maintenance or division of assets, the divorce fee packages are usually fixed at $2500
The cost of a contested divorce would vary depending on the complexity of the case. Some cases may stretch from months to years, and usually charged by the hour and there is often a maximum cap to the amount to be imposed. An rough estimate would be about $15000 dollars for a contested divorce.

If you are able to communicate with your spouse, then discuss on your intention to divorce as well as the terms of divorce. To assist with this, you and your spouse may also seek get a dispute resolution via mediation (Singapore Mediation Centre) to come to an amicable agreement and file for an uncontested divorce. You may also want to consider having an annulment as an alternative, more information here. You may then decide to hire a divorce lawyer to start preparing the divorce papers and filing them. If you cannot speak or talk with your partner or are unable to come to a decision, the divorce lawyer can offer to contact your spouse on your behalf and share with you information on steps to be taken.

The whole divorce process in Singapore takes around 6 months to reach final judgement for an uncontested divorce from the date that the divorce papers are filed. A contested divorce  can be very complicated and the duration may vary depending on the complexity of the case depending on how soon the court can come to a resolution.

In summary, yes you can file for a divorce in Singapore without a lawyer, however it isn’t recommended.

A contested divorce occurs when there’s a disagreement between you and your spouse that cannot be resolved (such as property division, custody care of kids, care payments) and involves formal court hearings prior to the Family Court from Singapore to determine the issue. Representing yourself in a court situation is not a recommended because the legalities of this divorce proceedings are very complex for someone who is not legally educated. In such a situation it is ideal to consult a family court lawyer. This form of litigation may extend over an extended period of time, and may wind up in a less favorable settlement for you in the event that you do not have an experienced divorce lawyer to protect your interests.

An uncontested divorce is where a couple has agreed to settle their disputes outside of court and have come to an agreement with regards to the matrimonial assets and the custody of the children. In this case it may seem that a Singapore family lawyer is not required and you may choose to manage the proceedings yourself in order to save the fees. However there is a tedious process to go through outlined below.

Here is a rough outline of what needs to be done: You have to handle the paperwork according to what is stipulated and make certain you file the necessary paperwork to the Family Court of Singapore via the Electronic Filing System and pay the filing fees. You will also be required to incorporate a legal stipulation to avoid future problems on the assets with your current spouse.

The filing document template can be obtained by visiting the “Forms and Programs” page of eLitigation.sg

Here is a break down of the basic filing fees:

• $42 for the Writ of Divorce

• $7 for the Statement of Claim

• $7 for Statement of Particulars

• $35 for inputting any judgement or order

• $14 for the certificate of Creating the interim judgment final

If the paperwork 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 services of a divorce lawyer in Singapore, 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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 Singapore 2018, Divorce Matters