​​​​​​​​​This section provides a summary of the procedures for filing for a divorce at the Family Justice Courts.

 
* Important note: This section deals with the procedure for obtaining a divorce in the Family Justice Courts with effect from 1 January 2015. The procedure in this section also applies to proceedings commenced before 1 January 2015 provided the matters are heard in the Family Justice Courts. The information in this section does not cover the procedure that applies if your case is in the High Court, or had commenced before 1 April 2006.

 

The information provided below is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. The Family Justice Courts cannot provide legal advice or assist with drafting the contents of any document.  

 

References to legislation

 
 

 
 
Before you file for a divorce:
 
  • Have you attended the Mandatory Parenting Programme? From 1 December 2016, parents with at least one child below 14 years of age and who do not have an agreement on the divorce and all the ancillary matters, are required to attend the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). The MPP is a one-to-one consultation for parents before they file a divorce application with the Family Justice Courts.  
  • For more information on the MPP, please click on the following link:
  • Do you need more information on what to expect when you embark on divorce proceedings? You may find it useful to read relevant Family Justice Courts brochures or watch the Divorce Information Video (*.WVM, 103Mb, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social and Family Development) before filing your divorce application.

 

 

 

 
  • Do you need more information on the relevant legal principles? You may find it useful to refer to the Divorce FAQs.     
         ​
  • Have you been married for less than three years? If so, you will need to obtain leave of Court to file a divorce application. You must apply for leave by filing an originating summons, with a supporting affidavit explaining the grounds of your application.
      
 
          
The information provided below offers you more details on what you need to take note of in your divorce proceedings:
1. Starting proceedings 
To start divorce proceedings, you must file the following documents in Court: 
  • Writ for Divorce, Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars. The Statement of Claim must specify which fact (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, three years’ separation with consent or four years’ separation) you are relying on to ask the Court to grant you a divorce. In the Statement of Particulars, give details of the fact that you are relying on. 

  • Proposed Parenting Plan if you have children below 21. File an Agreed Parenting Plan if you and your spouse (the Defendant) have managed to agree on the care arrangements for your children after the divorce.

  • Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan if there is a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat to be divided between you and the Defendant. File an Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan if you have managed to agree on what to do with the HDB flat after the divorce.

  • Acknowledgment of Service.

  • Memorandum of Appearance.

 

2. Electronic filing

Please note that you must file or send all Court documents, except for maintenance summons and family violence cases, to the Court using the e-Litigation (e-Lit) You can file documents through the e-Litigation at the Lawnet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau. There are two Service Bureaus in Singapore:

Supreme Court LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau at 1 Supreme Court Lane, Level 1, Supreme Court Building, Singapore 178879, Tel: (65) 6337 9164, Fax: (65) 6337 9980, Email: [email protected]

Chinatown Point LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau at 133 New Bridge Road, #19-01/02 Chinatown Point, Singapore 059413, Tel: (65) 6538 9507, Fax: (65) 6438 6350, Email:[email protected]

For more information on the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau, you may wish to visit the e-Litigation website. The staff of the Family Justice Courts will be able to direct you to the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau located at Chinatown Point, but will not be able to give you any specific information on the procedures and charges administered by the Service Bureau.    

 

3. Service

Please go to the Lawnet & Crimsonlogic Service Bureau to file your documents. If your documents are in order, the Family Registry will accept your documents for filing. Copies of your documents will be affixed electronically with the Court seal and the sealed copies will be given to you.

 
The Family Justice Rules states that the sealed copies must then be served on the Defendant. This is to alert him or her that you have started the divorce proceedings in Court.
 
        
You must serve the sealed copies in one of the following ways:
 
  • by personal service, which means that the documents must be handed to the Defendant directly by someone authorized to do so, such as a court process server;

  • by registered post to the Defendant’s address. The Court accepts this form of service only if the Defendant signs and returns the Acknowledgment of Service to you;

  • by E-Litigation on the Defendant’s lawyer, if he or she has one, but only if the Defendant’s lawyer indicates on the documents that he or she accepts service on behalf of  the Defendant.

 

4. Your first court date

If the Defendant and you have agreed on a divorce, and if the Defendant has no dispute over what you have said in your Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars, you must inform the Court that you are ready for your case to be heard by ‘setting down’ your case for hearing on an uncontested basis. You must do this by filing a  Request for setting down form.

 
If you do not set down within six weeks of filing your Writ for Divorce, the Court will call both parties for a Status conference to check on your case. You will be notified by letter if you are required to attend Court for a Status Conference.
 
A Status conference is conducted by an Assistant Registrar of the Family Justice Courts in chambers - meaning that the hearing is closed to the public, and only those directly involved in the matter can attend. You do not have to attend a Status Conference yourself if you have a lawyer. Similarly, if the Defendant has a lawyer, his or her lawyer will attend the Status Conference.
 
At the Status Conference, the Assistant Registrar will check if all the necessary documents have been filed in Court. If the Defendant is contesting the divorce, the Assistant Registrar may refer the case for counselling with a professional Court counsellor, or for a Family Dispute Resolution Conference at the Family Resolutions Chambers. Further information on Status Conferences may be found at paragraph 17 of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions.

If you are a Defendant, and have been served with a set of divorce papers:

Please note that if you choose to ignore the divorce papers, the Plaintiff is allowed to ask the Court for a divorce hearing date by filing the Request for Setting Down Action for Trial. The Court may proceed to fix a divorce hearing date, hear the case, and grant the divorce in your absence.    

 

5. Divorce hearing
The Court will send you a letter to notify you of your next court date once you have filed your Request for Setting Down Action for Trial. 
 
If your divorce is uncontested, your next court date will be the uncontested divorce hearing date. For uncontested divorces, the divorce hearings are generally done in chambers without the attendance of the parties or counsels. This means that no members of the public are allowed to watch the hearing. For some cases however, the divorce hearings may be adjourned to be heard in the same manner as the uncontested hearings for annulment of marriage set out in the paragraph below.
 
For uncontested  hearings for annulment of marriage, the parties and their counsels will have to attend the hearings. These hearings are normally held in Family Justice Courts 6.  A District Judge of the Family Justice Courts will hear the case in open court, meaning that members of the public may sit in the public gallery to watch the proceedings if they wish. The Judge may hear up to 30 divorce cases in a single morning or afternoon. 

If your divorce is contested, your next court date after the case has been set down for trial will be a case conference date. 
 
A case conference is conducted by an Assistant Registrar of the Family Justice Courts in chambers - meaning that the hearing is closed to the public, and only those directly involved in the matter can attend. You do not have to attend a case conference yourself if you have a lawyer. Similarly, if the Defendant has a lawyer, his or her lawyer will attend the case conference.
 
The purpose of a case conference is to get both parties ready for the contested divorce hearing, which will take the form of a trial in open court. If there is a possibility of settlement, the Assistant Registrar may refer the case for counselling with a professional Court counsellor, or for a resolution conference at the Family Resolutions Chambers. 
 
If the settlement is not possible, the Assistant Registrar will ask both parties to file Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief. If you are not sure what to say, or need help preparing your affidavit, you should seek independent legal advice immediately. 
Further information on case conferences may be found at paragraph 86 of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions.
A contested divorce hearing is very different from an uncontested divorce hearing. Depending on the number of witnesses and the complexity of the case, the whole process may require from one day to several days. Contested divorces are much more time-consuming and costly than uncontested divorce hearings. 
At the end of both types of divorce hearing, the Judge will grant an Interim Judgment if he or she is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Any ancillary matters will be adjourned to be heard in chambers.
The Interim Judgment is a provisional order for divorce. It is made final, or confirmed, after three months. You cannot remarry until the Interim Judgment has been made final.
This is the end of the first stage of your divorce case.
 
 
6. Ancillary matters pre-trial process

The second stage of your divorce case begins when an Ancillary Matters case conference is called. 
 
The Ancillary Matters case conference is usually called within a month of the Interim Judgment being granted. The Court will send you a letter to notify you of the Ancillary Matters case conference date.
 
An Ancillary Matters case conference is conducted by an Assistant Registrar of the Family Justice Courts in chambers - meaning that the hearing is closed to the public, and only those directly involved in the matter can attend. You do not have to attend the Ancillary Matters case conference yourself if you have a lawyer. Similarly, if the Defendant has a lawyer, his or her lawyer will attend the case conference.
 
The purpose of this case conference is to get both parties ready for the ancillary matters hearing, which will take place before a District Judge of the Family Justice Courts in chambers. If there is a possibility of settlement, the Assistant Registrar may refer the case for counselling with a professional Court counsellor, or for a resolution conference at the Family Resolutions Chambers. In a high conflict case where children are involved, the Assistant Registrar may consider referring the matter to a professional Court counsellor or social worker, so that a confidential report on custody or access may be prepared for the purpose of the ancillary matters hearing. The Assistant Registrar may also appoint a Child Representative. The Child Representative's role is to represent the children's interests for the ancillary matters hearing. The Child Representative will file a written submission for this purpose.
 
If settlement is not possible, the Assistant Registrar will ask both parties to file Affidavits of Assets and Means (Form 206). If you are unsure of what to say, or need help preparing Form 206, you should seek independent legal advice immediately. 
 
Further information on Ancillary Matters case conferences may be found at paragraph 86 of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions.
 
             
7. Ancillary matters hearing                

If both parties manage to reach agreement on the ancillary matters, the Court will give directions for a consent ancillary matters hearing to be fixed. You must prepare a Draft Consent Order in the correct form. Both parties must sign the Draft Consent Order. If a party has a lawyer, it is enough for the lawyer to sign it. If a party does not have a lawyer, he or she must sign the Draft Consent Order himself/herself before a Commissioner for Oaths or a lawyer. 
 
If there is no agreement, the Assistant Registrar will fix your case for a contested ancillary matters hearing.
 
A party may apply for the case to be transferred to the Family Division of the High Court by reason of involving some important question of law or of being a test case, or for any other sufficient reason.
 
You would make such a declaration when the Assistant Registrar asks you to complete the Summary of Relevant Information (Form 243). The Assistant Registrar will normally ask both parties to complete Form 243 at an Ancillary Matters case conference. 
             
  
8. Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final

Three months after the Court has granted an Interim Judgment, and if orders on the ancillary matters have been made, you may proceed to apply for the Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final.
 
This will confirm your divorce, and conclude all Court proceedings.     
           

              

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Last updated on: 13/12/2016 11:38 AM

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