Looking to file for divorce in Singapore? The divorce process can be mentally and financially stressful for all parties concerned. However, being aware of what to expect during the divorce process can help you prepare ahead and minimise the stress as much as possible.
Here is an in-depth look at the divorce process in Singapore:
Stages in divorce
The divorce procedure involves two stages for both contested and uncontested divorce.
The first stage involves establishing the ground for divorce by the person seeking the divorce (plaintiff).
In Singapore, irretrievable breakdown of the relationship is the only ground for dissolution of marriage, which can be due to either adultery, desertion, separation, or unreasonable behaviour.
The second stage is the ancillary matters stage, during which orders are made on the children’s arrangements, maintenance for wife and child, and division of parties matrimonial assets.
Before filing for divorce
Parents who have at least one child below the age of 21 years and have not reached a global agreement on ancillary matters and/or divorce terms have to attend the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP). This is conducted by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
Applying for divorce
When divorce proceedings are commenced, several documents have to be filed in the court including:-
- Writ for Divorce
- Statement of Claim – stating the ground for divorce (adultery, desertion, unreasonable behaviour and so on)
- Statement of Particulars – a detailed statement related to the ground for divorce that you seek to rely on
Once the documents have been filed and sealed by the Court, the documents would need to be served on the defendant. Service can be effected in the following manner:-
- Personal service by authorised personnel such as court process server.
- Electronically to the defendant’s lawyer.
Related Article: Documents Required for the Filing of Divorce in Singapore
The defendant can choose to defend or contest the divorce proceedings by filing the Defence and Memorandum of Appearance.
In the event that parties reach an agreement on all issues right at the beginning, then the divorce proceedings can be prepared and filed on a consent basis.
Once the proceedings are filed, the Interim Judgment will be granted within 6 weeks or so which concludes the first stage of divorce proceedings.
In consent divorce proceedings the Interim Judgment is made final 3 months thereafter.
For a contested divorce, the court conducts a pre-trial conference, the aim of which is to look for common areas of agreement that can help simplify the process.
A mediation date can also be fixed at this point. In the event that mediation fails, the court will fix a case conference for directions to be given in preparation for a hearing to be conducted in the determination of the issues,
The second stage
In contested proceedings, once the interim judgment is granted, the court will fix a case conference.
This is to prepare the parties for the ancillary matters hearing before a judge. Your lawyer can represent you at this conference.
With multiple documents and forms to prepare, file, and sign, not to mention attending conferences, mediation and negotiations, the divorce procedure can be complex.