Contested Divorce v Uncontested Divorce – Our divorce lawyers in Singapore specialise in divorces that are contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce occurs when there are no disagreements between you and your spouse over the divorce and any children or financial issues. An uncontested divorce is recommended over a contested divorce as it is quicker, stress free and legal fees are cheaper.
In an uncontested divorce, the whole divorce process is compressed in that both the divorce and the ancillaries will be dealt with at the same time. This is unlike a contested divorce where there is a 2-step process – the court will first deal with the divorce first and then deal with the ancillary issues later.
If your divorce is uncontested, we will draft the court order that sets out the agreement between you and your spouse. This consent court order is binding once it is approved by the Family Court, a process that usually takes about 4 weeks.
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How long does a Contested Divorce take compared to Uncontested Divorce?
How long your divorce case takes depends on whether it is contested or uncontested. If your divorce is uncontested, you can expect to obtain your Interim Judgment within 4 weeks of your filing the divorce papers. If your case is contested, your case may take between 6 to 12 months to complete.
In Singapore, about 80 percent of divorce cases are settled without going for a full hearing. This is because the Singapore courts play a very active and effective role in helping parties to settle.
When you file for a divorce, whether it is contested or uncontested, you must still show you qualify for a divorce in Singapore and that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
Can you divorce in Singapore?
First, you must have been married for at least 3 years before you can file a Writ for divorce on the ground that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. If you are married for less than 3 years, you can only file for divorce if you have obtained permission from the court. This is not easy to obtain as you must show that you have suffered exceptional hardship or if your spouse has been exceptionally cruel.
Second, you or your spouse must be domiciled (treated Singapore as your permanent abode) at the commencement of the divorce proceedings. Alternatively, either of you must have resided in Singapore for 3 years immediately before the commencement of divorce proceedings.
You must show ‘irretrievable breakdown” in marriage
Third, you must show that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown’ in the marriage.
What is ‘Irretrievable Breakdown’?
The Court will only grant a divorce if you can prove that the marriage has “broken down irretrievably.” To prove this, you must show one or more of the following facts:
The Defendant (the person being sued) has committed adultery with another person (the Co-Defendant) and the Plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the Defendant.
The Defendant has behaved in such a way that the Plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her.
The Defendant has deserted or left the Plaintiff for a continuous period of 2 years without any intention of returning.
Separation for 3 years
The Plaintiff and Defendant have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 3 years and the Defendant agrees to a divorce.
Separation for 4 years
The Plaintiff and the Defendant have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 4 years. No consent is required from the Defendant.
Once you have obtained your divorce, the court process moves to the second stage. This is the stage where the court decides on ancillary issues such as children custody, property division and money issues.
In a divorce proceeding, the parties may apply for:-
- custody, care and control of children and access (such as visitation rights); and
- division of matrimonial assets, including the matrimonial home.
In deciding on the division of matrimonial assets, the Court will take into consideration various factors including:-
- the extent of contributions made by each party in money, property or work towards the acquiring of the assets and non-financial contributions made by parties;
- any debts owing by either party which were contracted for this joint benefit; and
- the needs of the minor children (if any) of the marriage.
You should organise all the documents you have in support of your claim as these will have to be shown to the Court. Documents include evidence of mortgage payments, pay slips, CPF statements, Income Tax assessments and documents relating to the matrimonial home amongst others.