W.M.Low & Partners (Advocates & Solicitors, Singapore)

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Divorce Proceedings: Grounds & Procedure

There are a few preliminary points to be ascertained before filing a divorce Writ in Singapore.

Firstly, the jurisdiction issue- whether the applicants are Singapore citizen or resident in Singapore (for more than 3 years). A foreigner married in a foreign country may also file for divorce in Singapore if either party qualify under the domicile or habitual resident clause, assuming that the ground for irretrievable breakdown has also been satisfied.

Secondly, the parties must have been married for more than 3 years. For parties who are married for at least less than 3 years, leave will only be granted under certain circumstances.

Thirdly, whether one of the five reasons which have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage stated in section 95(3) (a ) to (e) of the Woman's Charter has been satisfied. The most commonly used reason is unreasonable behaviour, which encompass behaviour such as violence, gambling, intimate association with third parties, insufficient payment of maintenance, the use of vulgarities or abusive language, or even reluctance to engage in sexual intercourse without valid reason. For adultery, the burden of proof appears to be higher, and invariably requires a private investigator's report, even if the hearing is uncontested. The other reasons are desertion and separation. The Court does not order costs to be paid by the Defendant in the case of a Divorce Writ filed on the basis of separation.

It is unwise to conduct or defend the proceedings yourself, especially if the matter is heavily contested, as the rules of procedure and evidence are complicated. Certain evidence may not be admissible, or if admissible, may not carry weight.

If you are unable to afford a lawyer, you should seek legal aid (if you qualify), at the Legal Aid Bureau.

The Family Court Website provides a very detailed write up on the procedure at www.familycourtof singapore.gov.sg.

In a nutshell, your divorce lawyer will have to ascertain certain information from HDB (for those with a HDB flat) and the CPF Board prior to commencement of proceedings. The Proceedings are started by filing a Writ for divorce and a Statement of Claim electronically. You would also have to state your preferred mode of dealing with the flat, your arrangement for care of the children.

After the documents are filed and served on your spouse, he or she will decide within 8 days whether to contest the divorce or otherwise, for a Writ served in Singapore. The Family Court may exend time for the filing of a document called a Memorandum of Appearance. Thereafter the spouse who wishes to contest the divorce will have to file a Defence within 14 days. Sometimes, a Counter Claim is filed.

Therafter the Court would arrange for the parties or their solicitors to attend a Status Conference, or a Pre Trial Conference.

If the divorce is uncontested, the matter would be fixed for hearing.

The mornings hearings would be either at 9.30am/10.30am. The afternoon hearing list would be at 2.30pm/3.30pm.

For contested hearings, the trial may take a few days. For cases wherein violence has been committed by the spouse, a doctor may be called to testify and admit the medical reports, neighbours or friends may be subpoena to testify in the proceedings. Children who are mature enough to give a lucid account of what they saw or heard may also testify.

The original marriage certificate must be produced at the hearing unless it is not in the Plaintiff's possession, then the Court would accept a certified extract.

To seek legal help for your intended divorce, call us at 6534 1328 or submit the form below for an appointment.

We have to conduct a conflict search before the said appointment.

 

Name: 
Nric:       
Spouse's Name:
Spouse's NRIC:  
Address:
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E-Mail Address: 
Your Preferred Date for Appointment: 
Your Preferred Time for Appointment (Office Hrs): 


Kindly do not e-mail us with any confidential information until we have conducted a conflict search confirming that we are not acting for your spouse.

 

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