Navigating through a divorce can be emotionally, mentally, and financially draining. Properties, finances, and child care are also significant issues in this process. Inherently, you may be forced to accept decisions that will not only affect you and your spouse but your kids and family as well.
While others may choose an amicable settlement, some couples are just meant to take things legally to the end at whatever cost. As such, adequate preparation and knowledge could be the best defense to get a fair decision on your side as you end your marriage.
So, read on, as this post will cover everything about costs and considerations that concern getting a divorce in Singapore.
Contested Divorce Vs. Uncontested Divorce
Settling for a divorce with your spouse is not an easy call to make. Most of the time, they seek advice from friends, family, and lawyers in the early stage. Still, in the end, most of them will take on a civilized approach to settle their divorce in court, contested or not by either party.
If you file for an uncontested divorce, both parties should agree on:
- Which party will file in court
- Grounds to be used
- How matrimonial assets will be divided
- As many ancillary matters as there may be
These agreements should be reached before the filing date. Otherwise, you won’t be able to file for an uncontested divorce when the other party does not agree to one or more terms. Yet, many contested divorces are usually settled halfway with the help of family counselors and lawyers.
Divorce Singapore: Cost and Processes
As you finally decide to end your marriage legally, you’ll have to file for divorce with the Family Justice Courts. But before heading to court, you’ll have to prepare for the legal cost and comply with some legal requirements and processes.
Legal Grounds and Requirements
Before applying, filing parties should:
Check if you or your spouse are eligible.
To be eligible, you or your spouse should be:
- A Singapore citizen or living in Singapore for continuous three years before the date of filing
- Married for at least three years
- Married under civil law
Check for accepted grounds.
You should present facts that prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Here are some grounds or legal points that you can use:
- Adultery. This means that your spouse has sexual relations with another person, making it intolerable for you to live with your spouse. In this case, you can file for divorce as soon as marital infidelity is discovered.
- Unreasonable Behavior. Inflicting physical, mental, or verbal abuse may prove unreasonable behaviour as it makes it unsafe for you to live with your spouse any longer. Unreasonable behaviour could be
- Aggressive behaviour when under the influence of alcohol
- Being financially irresponsible
- Excessive gambling
- Having little to no respect for partner
- Desertion. Your spouse has left you against your will. For this, you can file a divorce immediately after two years.
- Separation. You and your spouse are living apart or in separate households. If your spouse agrees to the divorce, you can file three years from the date of separation. Otherwise, you can file after four years.
Consider all ancillary matters.
Essential matters relating to these matters include
- Childcare Arrangements. This will involve the living arrangement, primary caregiver, and financial provision for the child/children.
- Spousal Maintenance. This considers both parties’ earning capacity, financial needs, and standard of living. Financial support may be a lump sum, a specific sum per month, or a nominal sum.
Note, however, that there could be cases where short marriages could not be granted spousal maintenance.
- Division of Assets. Some considerations on this are the extent of contribution of either party and the needs of children.
The defendant may file a divorce application either on a simplified or normal track. Parties that agree on these ancillary matters may file on a simplified track. In contrast, if one party does not compromise on these matters, the plaintiff will have to file on a normal track.
Additionally, parents of minor children aged 14 and below must attend a parenting program before filing a divorce. They can apply for this program online via the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) microsite.
This mandatory program is designed to help the divorcing couples prioritize the well-being of their children through discussing:
- Financial challenges
- Care and living arrangements
- Child custody
- Positive co-parenting
Whether uncontested or contested, Singapore’s divorce process is always a 2-step process. The first stage is the dissolution of marriage, and the second one is the stage of the ancillary matter. Below is the step-by-step procedure in obtaining one in Singapore:
Stage 1 (Dissolution Of Marriage)
- Submit the following documents to the Family Justice Court:
- Writ of Divorce
- Statement of Claim
- Statement of Facts
- Proposed Parenting Plan (Agreed parenting plan if both parties agree on this)
- Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan
- The court will also serve the documents submitted to the other party. Wherefore, they will be given eight (8) days to decide whether to contest or not.
- Should the defendant contest, they can opt for the following:
- Request a counseling session with the court counselor.
- File a Memorandum of Appearance within eight (8) days and defense within fourteen (14) days.
- File a defense and counterclaim
If the defendant does not contest, they can file a Memorandum of Appearance indicating issues he wants to be heard on.
- Attend status conferences for updates on proceedings and directions from the court.
- Attend mediation sessions if you have at least one child aged below 21.
- An interim judgement will be granted if the court determines that the marriage suffers an irretrievable breakdown. Hereafter, the case will move to the next stage of proceedings.
Stage 2 (Ancillary Matters)
- Both parties will be requested to submit their Affidavits of Assets and Means before hearings disclosing all assets, income, and expenses. Cases with assets of net value greater than S$1.5M will be transferred to the High Court.
- A hearing date will be set, and the court will decide on the ancillary matters.
- After settlement on ancillary matters, both parties may apply for the Final Judgement, provided it has been three months since the interim judgement was granted.
Hiring A Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
Lawyers will always provide for a better understanding of legal matters pertaining to your case. Yet, hiring a competent lawyer in Singapore will often involve high legal costs. Generally, divorce fees for simplified uncontested divorces range from S$1,500 to S$3,500, while a contested one will cost way higher at around S$10,000 to S$35,000.
How Much Will It Cost?
Check out the table below for the estimate cost:
|Legal Process||Legal Fees|
|Uncontested Divorce||Contested Divorce|
|Entire Process (includes drafting of documents, filing, and extraction of interim judgement and final judgement)||S$1,500 to S$3,500||–|
|Stage 1: Dissolution of marriage, Filing of pleadings (lump sum)||–||S$2,500 to S$3,200|
|–||S$500 to S$2,000
|Trial (pre-agreed lump sum)||–||S$5,000 to S$15,000|
|Stage 2: Case Conference||–||S$350
|Affidavit Exchange (Up to 3 exchanges)||–||S$2,500 to S$4,500
|Mediation on Contested Ancillary Matters
|–||S$500 to S$2,000
|Hearing on Contested Ancillary Matters||–||S$4,700 to S$7,500|
|Total:||S$2,000 to S$4,000||S$21,550 to S$44,050|
Lawyers may still charge additional consultation fees after the first consultation. They can also charge legal fees by the hour. For trial fees, if a lump sum is not agreed upon, the lawyer may charge an additional cost for each subsequent day. A contested divorce will also cost more for both parties.
FAQs on Divorce
How long is the divorce proceeding in Singapore?
The duration of the court proceeding depends on the complexity of the case. A divorce proceeding for a simplified uncontested divorce case may last for six months to 1 year. While for a complex contested divorce, it may take more than one year, even more.
A trial in a contested divorce may be more lengthy as it may involve the production of witnesses and several hearings. Additionally, the final judgment will only be granted three months after the interim judgment is released.
What are matrimonial assets, and how are they divided between both parties?
Matrimonial assets are acquired by one or both parties within the marriage or those used by children. Assets that are acquired before the marriage but improved during the marriage are also considered matrimonial assets.
Examples of assets include:
- Insurance policies
- Cash savings
- CPF funds
Assets that are exempted or not considered as marital assets are gifts and inheritance to one party or the other.
rights to matrimonial assets are written in the law, but the division of assets will still depend on the court’s decision. The assets mentioned above are divided based on several factors:
- Debt owed
- Prenuptial agreements or any agreement with respect to the division of matrimonial assets
- Extent of financial contribution towards the asset
- Children’s financial needs
You may hire a lawyer for a clearer assessment of your right in the division of assets.
What financial implications should I consider after the divorce?
After the divorce becomes final, you should consider assessing your financial situation and consider necessary changes or adjustments. You may also consider transferring credit card accounts, bank accounts, or investments in your name only. Other things you need to review are your:
- Insurance coverage
- Beneficiary designations
- Income tax
- Credit reports.
Ending your marriage through a divorce should always be the last option after all marital resolutions have been tried. After all, you’ve also put in work to make the marriage a successful one. And if separation through a divorce is the only way to keep you sane, then it may be time to move on.
- Divorce may be the only option for an unsafe or unhealthy relationship.
- When contemplating divorce, one should also evaluate their financial well-being.
- Willingness from both parties to consent to the divorce may eventually lead to supportive and successful co-parenting.
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