How long does it take to divorce in Singapore – process and legal grounds

The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale ranked divorce as its second most stressful life event. No one marries their best friend expecting a divorce. Yet, divorce may happen.

Divorce can be life-changing. You may not know what’s around the corner.

But divorce need not be about fearing the unknown and living less. It can be about knowing what’s ahead. What to expect and how to navigate with less fear and greater certainty.

Divorce can also be fast and be wrapped up within months. A divorce need not drag on and delay your attempt at a fresh lease on life. But it needs cooperation.

How long will a divorce take?

It all depends on how you go about your split – uncontested and you could be single within months. Contested with disputes and you’re looking at a much much longer divorce process.

What’s a contested and uncontested divorce then? 

Contested vs Uncontested Divorce

To put things simply, a contested divorce is when one party doesn’t agree to the divorce or wants to dispute the terms of the divorce.

A simplified uncontested divorce is when all the necessary papers are prepared and the defendant (the person receiving the divorce papers), has agreed to the divorce. 

This means they’ve signed what’s known as the Draft Interim Judgment (don’t worry, we’ll cover this in detail later) and they’ve given their consent for the proceedings. 

The general timeline looks like this:

1. Darren walks into the lawyer’s office wanting a divorce from his wife.

2. Darren meets with the lawyers, discusses the settlement and comes to an agreement with his wife on the house, their children, money issues etc.

They’re both very cooperative and settle it within 2 weeks. (compared to Kevin and his wife who started fighting and dragged it to more than 3 months)

3. Another 3-4 weeks later, Darren and his wife get an “Interim Judgment”. 

Basically the judge goes through the papers and passes a “you’re almost divorced” statement. It’s not the final divorce ruling, but it’s just a matter of time.

4. Darren patiently waits for a minimum of 3 months before the final judgment is made.

Meanwhile, both Darren and his wife cannot remarry until the final judgment is made.

All in all, Darren waited about 4 to 5 months to get divorced from the time the divorce papers were filed. 

As you can tell, the faster you can talk things through during the negotiation process, the faster you can get move on.

If you don’t have kids or not too many assets to divide, that may shorten the divorce process even more.

Requirements for Getting a Divorce in Singapore

Before you begin the divorce proceedings, some preparation is necessary.

In order to obtain a divorce in Singapore, either you or your spouse must meet the following eligibility requirements:

1. Have been married for at least 3 years, unless you can prove that there was exceptional hardship or grave depravity AND

2. Be domiciled in Singapore at the start of the divorce proceedings OR are a habitual resident of Singapore for at least 3 years before the commencement of the divorce proceedings. 

If you meet the legal reasons for divorce, let’s carry on. If you need to understand the divorce process a little better, you can find out more from our lawyers.

Grounds for Divorce

Irretrievable breakdown of marriage, via any of the facts shown below:

1. Adultery: The defendant has had sexual intercourse with another party and the plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the defendant

2. Unreasonable behaviour: To the point where the plaintiff cannot be expected to live with the defendant. (eg. physical/sexual abuse, financial/ non-financial neglect, not carrying out duties as a husband/wife etc)

3. Desertion: Your partner has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 2 years

4. Separation: Both of you have lived apart for at least 4 years (or 3 years if the defendant consents to the divorce)

If you think you’re ready and want to go ahead with the divorce…

The Divorce Stages

1. Consultation

2. Preparation

3. Signing

4. Filing

5. Interim Judgment

6. Waiting for Final Judgment

7. Divorced

  • At this point, you’ll need to carry out the terms of the divorce order. Eg. selling of the home in the open market or buying out your ex’s share in the home.

8. Post Divorce

  • If you have children under 21, the court will send you a notice to attend a compulsory counselling session on co-parenting. 

The first step to getting a divorce

Seek out a lawyer. 

The common misconception that people have is the focus of divorce is having a good reason to be apart. 

While there is some truth, it’s the Ancillary Matters that’s complex, time-consuming and crucial.

The sooner you settle these, the simpler the divorce process.

3 Types of Ancillary Matters

1. Division of matrimonial assets

This includes cars, shares, businesses and immovable property such as the matrimonial home.

Most of the time, couples come to us with no clue on how to split their assets. If this is you, no problem. Here’s some questions to help you…

  • What were your financial contributions to each asset and the marriage?
  • How about your non-financial contribution to the marriage?
  • Is there anything you really want to keep?
  • Any debts owed by either party?
  • Are you Legally, Regulatorily and Financially able to own and take over these assets?

By the way, if you’re a foreigner, you cannot own landed property unless you’ve got approval from the Land Dealing Approval Unit (LDAU). And as we all know, HDB has its own requirements for flat ownership.

We will guide you along on how to divide, sell and transfer the assets.

2. Children

Raising a child in Singapore is expensive. Food, lodging, medical expenses and don’t forget the insanely high education fees. These are the basics of what child maintenance will cover.

3. Maintenance

When it comes to money, things can get rough and tensions might arise. If you’re worried about being held hostage by your soon-to-be ex, these are some factors to determine the maintenance fee:

  • The financial standing and income of both the wife and the husband;
  • Standard of living enjoyed by both during the marriage;
  • Ages of the parties; and
  • Duration of the marriage

If you’re wondering, will maintenance ever end?

Well, maintenance will last until the wife remarries. Maintenance may also be granted to husbands in certain situations. You can find out more with a free consultation with our lawyers. 

So as we mentioned earlier, the faster these Ancillary Matters can be settled, the easier your proceedings will go.

Before you head off, this is a list of stuff you need.

Documents Needed

Personal

  • Copy of marriage certificate
  • NRIC, passport
  • Birth certificates of children
  • Identification of matrimonial home

Divorce documents (the Lawyer will prepare for you)

  • Writ of Divorce
  • Statement of Claim
  • Statement of Particulars
  • Draft Interim Judgment
  • Set Down Document
  • Consent to Simplified Divorce Proceedings
  • Consent to Divorce on 3-years’ separation (if needed)
  • CPF checklist (if needed)
  • Affidavit of Evidence in Chief (signed by plaintiff)

Do I really need a lawyer?

It’s possible to file for a divorce without engaging a lawyer.

But bear in mind that you’ll still need to conform to all the legal, procedural and formal requirements of the court proceedings.

In other words, you have to perform as if you are a lawyer (aka you’re on your own).

It’s advisable to get help from a professional lawyer to prevent a complex and unprepared divorce process that could leave you severely disadvantaged. You’ve suffered enough. Leave it to us, we’ll take care of you.

As you go back into the complicated world called Life, stop by and schedule a FREE consultation with our lawyers. We’re here to help.

Why Family 360?

We at Family 360 will bring to your life the firm’s 35 years of experience and advice on family law to make you fear less and live more.

When we understand the facts of your case, we will chart the course for you and tell you the options you have. You will then have better perspectives and greater control of your own life and future and that of your children if you have them. 

And hopefully, speed up the divorce process and begin your life anew.

Leave a Comment: