Preliminary Points To Consider
There are a few preliminary points to be ascertained before going through the divorce procedure in Singapore.
First is the jurisdiction issue.
Whether the applicants are Singapore citizens or residents in Singapore (for more than 3 years). A foreigner married in a foreign country may also file for divorce procedure in Singapore if either party qualify under the domicile or habitual resident clause, assuming that the ground for irretrievable breakdown has also been satisfied.
Second, the parties must have been married for more than 3 years.
For parties who are married for at least less than 3 years, divorce in Singapore will only be granted under certain circumstances.
Third, whether one of the five reasons which have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage stated in section 95(3) (a) to (e) of the Woman’s Charter has been satisfied.
The most commonly used reason is unreasonable behaviour, which encompass behaviour such as violence, gambling, intimate association with third parties, insufficient payment of maintenance, the use of vulgarities or abusive language, or even reluctance to engage in sexual intercourse without valid reason to file for a divorce procedure in singapore. For adultery, the burden of proof appears to be higher, and invariably requires a private investigator’s report, even if the hearing is uncontested. The other reasons are desertion and separation. The Court does not order costs to be paid by the Defendant in the case of a divorce procedure in Singapore.
It is unwise to conduct or defend the proceedings yourself, especially if the matter is heavily contested, as the rules of procedure and evidence are complicated for the divorce procedure in Singapore. Certain evidence may not be admissible, or if admissible, may not carry weight.
If you are unable to afford a lawyer, you should seek legal aid (if you qualify), at the Legal Aid Bureau.
In a nutshell, your divorce lawyer will have to ascertain certain information from HDB and the CPF Board prior to commencement of divorce procedure in Singapore. Filing a Writ for divorce procedure in Singapore and a Statement of Claim electronically starts the proceedings. You would also have to state your preferred mode of dealing with the flat, your arrangement for care of the children.
After the documents are filed and served on your spouse, he or she will decide within 8 days whether to contest the divorce or otherwise, for a divorce procedure in Singapore. The Family Court may extend time for the filing of a document called a Memorandum of Appearance. Thereafter the spouse who wishes to contest the divorce will have to file a Defence within 14 days. Sometimes, a Counter Claim is filed.
Thereafter the Court would arrange for the parties or their solicitors to attend a Status Conference, or a Pre Trial Conference.
If the divorce is uncontested, the matter would be fixed for hearing. The mornings hearings would be either at 9.30am/10.30am. The afternoon hearing list would be at 2.30pm/3.30pm.
For contested divorce procedure in Singapore, the trial may take a few days. For cases wherein violence has been committed by the spouse, a doctor may be called to testify and admit the medical reports; neighbours or friends may be subpoenaed to testify in the proceedings. Children who are mature enough to give a lucid account of what they saw or heard may also testify.