Frequently Asked Questions – Getting a Singapore Divorce
How do you define a divorce?
A divorce is basically a legal proceeding to officially terminate a lawful marriage.
In Singapore, when a divorce application has been approved by the Family Justice Courts, an Interim Judgement of Divorce will be given by the Judge of the case. This marks the beginning of the second stage of a Singapore divorce process.
The Interim Judgement of Divorce does not include settlement of child custody issues, joint named properties, division of other matrimonial assets and maintenance. In legal terms, such matters are regarded as ‘ancillary matters’.
Ancillary matters are typically managed and settled after the Interim Judgement of Divorce has been obtained. This is also where the second stage of a legal Singapore divorce comes in.
Who is eligible for a divorce in Singapore under the Family Justice Courts?
The Singapore Law on divorce may be referenced in the Women’s Charter, which may be found here.
Before even applying for a divorce with the Courts, it is vital that you ensure that you are eligible for one by going through the requirements. If unsure, it is highly recommended to consult a qualified family lawyer for advice.
You may not apply for a divorce with the Family Justice Courts if you and your husband/wife are Muslims, or the marriage was authorised under Muslim Law.
The basic requirements for a Singapore divorce are;
- either the husband or wife is a Singaporean
- the applicant or his/her husband/wife has resided in Singapore for a minimum of 3 years prior to applying for a divorce
- the applicant or his/her husband/wife has been domiciled in Singapore
Additionally, a divorce may not be carried out if the marriage has not been legally bind for a minimum of 3 years. Special permission from the Court has to be obtained should the applicant wishes to proceed with a divorce on a marriage less than 3 years.
What criteria must be met before a divorce may be legally granted?
The Judge from the Family Justice Courts will only approve a divorce application when he or she has agreed that your marriage has ‘irrevocably broken down’ beyond the point of repair or reconciliation. This also means that the Judge agrees that your marriage has ended.
Upon agreement, the marriage has to be proven to have ended by showing the Court one or more of the following:
- that your husband/wife has committed adultery, and that residing with him or her has turned into an intolerable affair
- that the behaviour of your husband/wife has been in such a way that it is beyond reasonable boundaries to continue staying with him/her
- that your husband/wife has abandoned or lost contact for a minimum of 2 years
- if your husband/wife agrees to a divorce; you and him/her must have been separated for a minimum of 3 years
- if your husband/wife does not consent to a divorce, you and him/her must have been separated for a minimum of 4 years
The requirements may be found in more detail under section 95(3) of the Women’s Charter.
How to file for divorce?
Submit and file a Writ for Divorce, Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars with the Family Justice Courts. The relevant filing fees apply. The spouse who initiates and files the divorce is known as the plaintiff. The other spouse is known as the defendant. A divorce may either be filed by the applicant himself / herself or by an appointed lawyer.
For more information on the Singapore divorce process and procedures, please visit this page.
In the event that the applicant’s spouse is missing or absent, what can he or she do?
The applicant may still apply for a divorce with the Family Justice Courts. The process, however, may be costlier and more complex than if the spouse is present. This is because the Family Justice Courts still require the applicant to submit the divorce documents on his or her spouse.
Can a Writ for Divorce be contested or opposed?
If a person is to oppose a Writ for Divorce filed by his or her spouse, it is important to ensure that the correct processes are adhered to. If the person is to simply ignore the Divorce notice, the Family Justice Courts may conclude the application with or without the person. The person may suddenly find that his or her marriage has been legally concluded, with instructions passed on child custody, matrimonial assets, property and maintenance. Such instructions are legally binding despite the person not being present at court or hearings.