What is a divorce?

 
A divorce is the legal procedure that ends a marriage.
 
When a Judge of the Family Justice Courts grants your divorce, he or she will hand down an Interim Judgment of Divorce. This is the end of the first stage of your divorce proceedings.

The Interim Judgment does not settle issues about the children, property or maintenance. In legal language, issues about the children, property and maintenance are known as ‘ancillary matters.’

The ancillary matters are usually dealt with after the Court has granted the Interim Judgment. This is the second stage of divorce proceedings.

 

 

Who can apply for a divorce in the Family Justice Courts?
 
In Singapore, the law on divorce is found in the Women’s Charter, which you can access through Singapore Statutes Online.

It is very important for you to check that you are eligible to apply for a divorce in the Family Justice Courts.

You cannot apply for a divorce in the Family Justice Courts if you and your spouse are Muslims, or were married under the Muslim law.

You can get a divorce in the Family Justice Courts here if you or your spouse
- are a Singapore Citizen
- have lived in Singapore for at least three years before you apply for a divorce in the Family Justice Courts
- are domiciled in Singapore
 
In addition, under section 94 of the Women’s Charter, you cannot apply for a divorce if you have been married for less than three years unless you have the Court’s permission to do so.
 
 
 
 
      What are the legal requirements for a divorce?
 
You will be granted a divorce only if a Judge of the Family Justice Courts agrees that your marriage has ended. In legal language, the Judge must find that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. This is set out at section 95 of the Women’s Charter.

To prove that your marriage has ended, you must show the Court that one or more of the following facts is true:
 
- that your spouse has committed adultery, and you find it intolerable to live with him or her
- that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her
- that your spouse has deserted you for at least two years
- if your spouse agrees to the divorce, that you and your spouse have been separated for at least three years
- if your spouse does not agree to the divorce, that you and your spouse have been separated for at least four years.
These requirements are set out at section 95(3) of the Women’s Charter.
 
 
 
 
      How do I apply for a divorce?
 
File a Writ for Divorce, Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars in the Family Justice Courts. You will need to pay the appropriate filing fees. 
 
If you are the spouse applying for a divorce, you are the plaintiff. Your spouse is the defendant.
 
You may prepare your own divorce papers, or ask a lawyer to do it for you.
 
For further information on divorce procedures, please see the divorce page in this website.
 
 
 
 
      What if I can't find my spouse?
 
You may proceed with your divorce application in the Family Justice Courts, but the procedure may be more expensive and complicated because the Court will still require you to serve the divorce papers on him or her.
 
 
 
 
      Can I oppose a Writ for Divorce filed by my spouse?
 
If you want to oppose your spouse’s divorce application, it is very important that you follow the proper procedures. If you simply ignore the Court case, the Court may decide the case without you. You may find that your marriage has been legally ended, and that certain orders have been made on the children, property and maintenance. These orders will still be binding on you even if you were not at the Court hearing.
 
You must be clear as to whether you want to remain married to your spouse, or if you simply want the Court to hear you on the issues relating to the children, property and maintenance. These are the ancillary matters.
 
If you wish to remain married to your spouse, you must defend the divorce. You must do this by filing a Memorandum of Appearance and a Defence. A copy of the Memorandum of Appearance will have been served on you together with the divorce papers.
 
If you just want the Court to hear you on the ancillary matters, file the Memorandum of Appearance indicating which issues you wish to be heard on. After the Interim Judgment hearing is over, the Court will call an Ancillary Matters case conference, and ask you to file an Affidavit of Assets and Means. 
 
 
 
 
      Is there a way for my spouse and I to come to an agreement so that we can avoid a contested divorce?
 
Yes.
 
Contested divorce and ancillary matters hearings take a long time, are much more expensive, and come at a great personal cost to everyone involved. It is best for you, your spouse and your children if you are able to agree on how to move forward with a divorce.
 
The Family Resolutions Chambers of the Family Justice Courts is dedicated to helping you and your spouse come to an amicable arrangement on the divorce and ancillary matters. You can make a request for a Resolution Conference with a Judge of the Family Resolutions Chambers. You can make your request through your lawyer if you have one, or to the Assistant Registrar when you attend Court at the Status Conference or case conference stage of your divorce proceedings.You can also make a request for counselling.
 
 
 
 
      Do I need a lawyer to get divorced?
 
If you really want to, and if you are able to do so, you can apply for a divorce yourself. In legal language, this is known as ‘acting in person.’
 
But you will not be exempt from the legal, procedural and formal requirements of conducting Court proceedings. For example, you must ensure that the documents you file in Court are in the correct format, that you have paid the correct filing fees, and that you have filed your documents through the e-Litigation.
 
Most importantly, the Family Justice Courts cannot give you any advice on what you should say or do. Only a qualified lawyer can give you independent legal advice on the merits of your case.
 
 
 
 
      When can I remarry?
 
You can only remarry after you have obtained Final Judgment—also known as a Certificate of Final Judgment Form. 
 
You must wait until the Court has dealt with all the ancillary matters in your divorce, or for three months, whichever is later, before you can apply for the Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final.

 

Last updated on: 9/1/2015 9:01 AM

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