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Before applying for a divorce

Parties should do all of the following before applying for a divorce in the Family Courts:

Watch the video to find out more about eligibility for divorce under Singapore Law and grounds for divorce.

Understand the eligibility for divorce

In order to be eligible to apply for a divorce in the Family Courts, you or your spouse must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a Singapore citizen or have been living in Singapore for 3 continuous years immediately prior to the filing of a divorce application.
  • Have been married for at least 3 years.
    • You cannot file for a divorce if you and your spouse have been married for less than 3 years unless leave of court (permission) is obtained to do so.
  • Are married under civil law.
    • Parties married under Syariah law should file for divorce in the Syariah Court instead.

Understand the facts to rely on in support of a divorce

Parties will be granted a divorce only if the court finds that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.

If you intend to file the divorce application, you must show the court that you are relying on one or more of these facts to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Legal facts

It means...

You may file for divorce...

Adultery

Your spouse has cheated on you by having sexual relations with someone who is not you, and you find it intolerable to live with your spouse.

As soon as infidelity is known.

Unreasonable behaviour

Your spouse has inflicted physical or mental abuse or any other misconduct, or behaved in a manner that you cannot be reasonably expected to live with them.

At any time after the incident has taken place.

Desertion

Your spouse has left you against your wishes and completely rejected the marital relationship.

After 2 years from the date of desertion.

Separation

You and your spouse have been living separately and apart, or together but maintaining different households.

  • After 3 years from the date of separation and your spouse agrees to the divorce based on the fact that both of you have been living separately and apart for 3 years.
  • (If you have not obtained your spouse's consent to the divorce) After 4 years from the date of separation.

Consider all ancillary matters relating to the divorce

Parties will need to think about all the following ancillary matters before applying for a divorce.

Ancillary matters

Includes issues relating to...

Children's care arrangements

  • Custody (who makes the major decisions).
  • Care and control (who takes care of the children on a daily basis).
  • Access (how often the parent who does not have care and control sees the children).
  • Maintenance (how much financial support should be given for the children’s expenses).

Watch the video to find out more about access orders in Singapore.

Wife's or incapacitated husband's maintenance

The amount of financial support given to the spouse. This may be any of the following:

  • A nominal sum.
  • A specific sum per month and whether it is for a fixed period of time.
  • One-time lump sum.
  • No maintenance.

Assets distribution

  • Which assets are to be divided (for example the house).
  • How the assets will be divided (for example CPF monies and monies in joint bank accounts).

Costs of divorce proceedings

Who will bear the costs of the divorce proceedings. This may be:

  • Borne by one party.
  • Shared between both parties.
  • Each party bears own costs.

If parties reach an agreement

If parties reach an agreement on the divorce and the ancillary matters before they file their divorce papers, they can file a divorce application on a simplified track.

If parties do not reach an agreement

If parties cannot reach an agreement on the divorce and the ancillary matters before they file their divorce papers, they will have to file a divorce application on a normal track.

Note

Applying for a divorce should be the last option after all other means of resolving any marital issues have not been effective.

Parties may wish to consider attending counselling or any of the support programmes available at the Family Service Centres (FSCs).

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more

Resources

Refer to:

Refer to Part VI of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions for proceedings for the dissolution of marriage under Part X of Women’s Charter.


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