SINGAPORE DIVORCE

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divorce singapore

Mr Godwin Campos
Advocate & Solicitor

Over the years, Godwin Campos LLC has established a firm reputation for family law in particular divorce work. Our experienced Singapore family & divorce lawyer enjoys a strong reputation for expertise, compassion and success, all the while charging very reasonable fee rates.

Mr Godwin Campos is an experienced divorce lawyer who has practised for more than 20 years. He specialises in Family Law and has extensive expertise in conducting matters before the Family and Juvenile Courts for divorce matters, ancillary issues of custody, care and control, maintenance for both the wife and child, and the division of matrimonial assets.

For divorce matters, the firm’s fees start from $1,800. Please call 6535 1306 or email godwin@godwincampos.com.sg.


WHAT IS DIVORCE?

A divorce refers to the legal process that terminates or concludes a marriage. The Family Justice Courts grants a divorce to a couple through an Interim Judgement. Then, the ancillary matters (issues about the custody, property division, and/or maintenance) are usually taken care of after the Interim Judgement has been granted.


WHO CAN APPLY FOR A DIVORCE?

The Family Justice Courts requires that both husband and wife:

  • Are citizens or permanent residents of Singapore
  • Are domiciled in Singapore
  • Are married and have lived in Singapore for at least three (3) years*

*The Court may grant a divorce application to couples who are married for less than 3 years, if one can prove that there’s an evidence of exceptional hardship like abuse or mistreatment.

Note: Couples who are Muslims, or were married under the Muslim law are not eligible to apply for a divorce in the Family Justice Courts of Singapore.

WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS/GROUNDS FOR A DIVORCE?

According to the Section 95 of the Women’s Charter, a divorce can only be granted if a Judge of the Family Justice Courts agrees that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. This requires a proof that one would find it unbearable to cohabit with the spouse.

In order to prove this, one or more of the following conditions or grounds should be met before you can apply for a divorce:

  • Adultery – the spouse has been unfaithful or has been caught committing adulterous acts.
  • Irrational behaviour – the spouse has behaved in an intolerable way, i.e. alcoholism, emotional or physical abuse, gambling and squandering of money.
  • Desertion – the spouse has abandoned his/her partner for at least a period of two (2) years, without any intention of coming back.
  • 3-Year Separation – the couple have become estranged or have lived apart for at least three (3) years. This requires an agreement or consent of both parties.
  • 4-Year Separation – the couple have become estranged or have lived apart for at least four (4) years. This does not require the consent or the agreement of the spouse.

HOW DO I APPLY FOR A DIVORCE?

Singapore divorce can be divided into two (2) phases:

  1. Dissolution of Marriage
  2. Ancillary Matters

PHASE A: DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE

There are important terminologies used in the proceedings: (1) the Plaintiff is the party who files the Writ of Divorce, (2) the Defendant is the party who is being petitioned for divorce, and (3) the Co-Defendant is the third party, in case the defendant has committed adultery.

A-1: Sending Out of Standard Queries Forms

Before starting the divorce proceedings, the Plaintiff’s solicitors will send out the Standard Queries Forms to the HDB (Housing Development Board) and the CPF (Central Provident Fund) Board. The procedure will approximately take one (1) month. This guarantees that the new arrangement complies with the rules governing the usage of HDB flats.

A-2: Filing of Documents

The following documents must be filed in the Family Justice Courts to start the divorce proceedings:

  • Writ for Divorce, Statement of Claim & Statement of Particulars - the Statement of Claim must specify which among the grounds the Plaintiff is relying on to ask the Court to grant a divorce. In the Statement of Particulars, the full details of the grounds declared in the Statement of Claim should be set out.
  • Proposed Parenting Plan - an Agreed Parenting Plan should be submitted if both parties have managed to agree on the care arrangements for the children after the divorce. This is only necessary if there are children who are below 21 years old.
  • Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan - an Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan is submitted if both parties have managed to agree on what to do with the HDB (Housing and Development Board) flat after the divorce. This only necessary if there is an HDB flat that needs to be divided between parties.
  • Acknowledgment of Service
  • Memorandum of Appearance

All these Court documents must be filed using the E-Litigation at any of the two Lawnet & Crimson Logic Service Bureau. The Family Registry will accept the documents for filing if they are considered valid.

A-3: Service of Documents

Once all the required documents are filed, the copies will be affixed electronically with the Court seal and will be given to the Plaintiff. As per the Family Justice Courts Rules, the sealed copies should be served on the Defendant. This is to inform him/her that the divorce proceedings in Court have commenced.

The sealed copies may be served by the Plaintiff in one of the following ways, depending on the situation:

  • Personal service - the sealed documents must be given to the Defendant directly by the Plaintiff or by an authorized person, if the address of the Defendant is known to the Plaintiff;
  • Registered post – the sealed documents will be served to the Defendant’s address through registered mail. This form of service is allowed by the Court only if the Defendant signs and returns the Acknowledgment of Service to the Plaintiff;
  • E-Litigation on the Defendant’s lawyer – this is applicable only if it is specified in the documents that the Defendant’s lawyer accepts service on behalf of the Defendant.

In the event that the service of documents on the Defendant fails after two attempts, the Plaintiff can apply for Substituted Service in the Family Court. This is done by acquiring a Court Order to “post” the divorce documents on the last known address of the Defendant’s door of his premises and on the Notice Board of the Family Court. As an alternative, the substituted service can be done through Registered Post to the last known address of the Defendant.

On the other hand, when the Defendant’s address is unknown, the Plaintiff can apply for Substituted Service in the Family Court if he/she deems that the Defendant is still living in Singapore. This is done by putting up the Notice of Proceedings at the last known address, on the Notice Board of the Family Court, or by publicising it in the local newspaper.

A-4: Entering an Appearance

When the divorce documents are served, the Defendant can take three (3) possible actions:

  • Contest the divorce – The Defendant can contest the divorce by filing a Defence and a Memorandum of Appearance, within eight (8) days of service of the divorce documents. The copy of Memorandum of Appearance & Defence, along with the divorce documents, will then be served. However, if the Defendant wants to contest the divorce, but has ignored the divorce documents, the Plaintiff can ask the Court for a divorce hearing date through filing the Request for Setting Down Action for Trial. The Court may proceed to arrange a divorce hearing date, hear the case, and grant the divorce even in the absence of the Defendant.
  • Do not contest the divorce – it will be considered as an “uncontested divorce” with a Hearing of the Divorce Petition consequently. The Plaintiff can then file an Affidavit of Service and set down the matter for trial.
  • Contest on ancillary matters – the Defendant can file the Memorandum of Appearance specifying which matters he/she asks to be heard on. Once the Interim Judgment hearing is concluded, the Court will set up an Ancillary Matters case session, and request the Defendant to file an Affidavit of Assets and Means.

A-5: First Court Date

The first Court date will be scheduled by the Court, depending on the agreement of both parties.

A-5.1: Uncontested

If both parties have agreed on the divorce, with no dispute over what is included in the Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars, the Court must be informed that the divorce case is ready to be heard. The case should be set down for hearing on an uncontested basis by filing a request for setting down form. The divorce hearing is usually conducted *in chambers without the appearance of the parties or counsels.

*Hearing conducted in chambers means that only the lawyers & persons directly involved in the matter, and no public members will be permitted to attend the hearing.

A-4.2: Contested

If the case is not set down within six (6) weeks of filing the Writ for Divorce, the Court will call both parties for a Status conference. A letter will be sent to notify if the parties are required to attend Court for a Status Conference.

  • A-4.2.1: Status Conference

    A Status Conference is done in chambers for the judge to verify the status of the divorce appeal. The Assistant Registrar of the Family Justice Courts will inspect if all the necessary divorce documents have been filed in Court. If any of the parties has a divorce lawyer, they will not be required to attend the Status Conference themselves as their lawyer can attend on their behalf.

  • A-4.2.2: Pre-Trial Conference (PTC)

    A Pre-Trial Conference will be called only when both parties did not reach an agreement during the status conference and the petition has been arranged for the divorce contested hearing. It is also done to narrow down the issues and determine if there are common areas where both parties can agree to resolve. The pre-trial will be performed in an open court, indicating that the public can watch the hearing.

  • A-4.2.3: Counselling & Mediation Sessions

    If there’s a possibility of settlement, the Assistant Registrar may refer the case for counselling with a professional Court counsellor or for a Family Dispute Resolution Conference. If there is at least one (1) child who is below the age of 21, both parties should undergo mandatory mediation as part of the divorce proceedings.

A-6: Divorce Hearing

If no agreement has been reached even after the Pre-Trial Conference or Mediation, a date for the divorce hearing will be given (depending on the calendar of the Family Court). Both parties, as well as the witnesses, will be asked by the Assistant Registrar to file affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief to support the claims. They will also be cross-examined by the lawyers.

An Interim Judgement (a provisional order for divorce) will be granted when the Judge of the Court is convinced that the marriage has irretrievable broken down. Take note that the Interim Judgement is confirmed or finalised only after three months. Remarrying is not possible until the Interim Judgement is finalised.

This concludes the first phase of the divorce proceedings.

PHASE B: ANCILLARY MATTERS

The Ancillary Matters case conference is called to commence the second stage of the divorce proceedings. This deals with the things that are not covered in the dissolution of marriage, i.e. child custody and support, division of matrimonial assets, and maintenance. It usually starts within a month after the Interim Judgement was granted. The court will notify the parties about the date through a letter.

B-1: Ancillary Matters Pre-Trial Proceedings

The Assistant Registrar of the Family Justice Courts will conduct the Ancillary Matters case conference in chambers. Both parties are not required to give appearance, and their lawyers can attend on their behalf.

  • B-1.1: Settlement

    Just like in the dissolution of marriage, both parties may be directed by the Court to counselling with a professional Court counsellor and mediation sessions, if there is a possibility to settle unresolved family disputes and conflict cases where child(ren) are involved. The Assistant Registrar may also appoint a Child Representative who will embody the child(ren)’s interests for the ancillary matters hearing by filing a written submission.

    If both parties has reached a settlement, a consent ancillary matters hearing will be arranged by the Court. A Draft Consent Order in the correct form must be signed by both parties. If any of the party has a lawyer, he/she can sign the form on the involved party’s behalf.

  • B-1.1: Disagreement

    If both parties has reached a settlement, a consent ancillary matters hearing will be arranged by the Court. A Draft Consent Order in the correct form must be signed by both parties. If any of the party has a lawyer, he/she can sign the form on the involved party’s behalf.

    In the event that one of the parties did not submit a full and frank disclosure of assets, the opposing party may file a discovery application with the Court to mandate full disclosure. Similarly, a Mareva Injunction (freezing of assets) may be acquired by the opposing party if there’s a risk that one party plans to transfer his/her assets away.

    For the disagreement regarding the child(ren)’s custody and access issues, the Deputy Registrar will ask for supplementary documents such as:

    • Social Welfare Report from the Ministry of Community Development
    • Sports or the Custody Evaluation Report from the Family and Juvenile Justice Court

    In most cases, custody and access are granted separately to each party.

    Consequently, a Contested Ancillary Matters Hearing will be directed by Court in Chambers.

B-2: Ancillary Matters Hearing

The Court will consider different factors to attain a fair outcome when deciding on the ancillary matters. The division of assets, the best custodial parent of the child(ren), the visitation rights and maintenance will be decided based on the welfare and best interest of the children, as these are deemed as the top priority. The S 112 of the Women’s Charter contains the full list of factors to consider.

The respective lawyers of both parties will create written and oral submissions in the Court. Once the Ancillary Matters order has been passed, any of the party can file an appeal within fourteen (14) days.

To settle the divorce and all the Court proceedings, the Plaintiff should apply for the Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final three (3) months after the Interim Judgement has been granted by the Court and the Ancillary Matters orders have been made.

When the certificate has been received, both parties are considered officially divorced.

SINGAPORE DIVORCE LAWYER GODWIN CAMPOS

The whole divorce proceedings is a demanding task. Hiring a Singapore divorce lawyer like Godwin Campos instead of self-representing in Court can save you a lot of time, money and effort.

For Singapore divorce matters, the firm’s fees start from $1,800.

Schedule a consultation with Attorney Godwin Campos by contacting 6535-1306 or email godwin@godwincampos.com.sg.

 
 
 
FAMILY LAW
•   Divorce  
•   Maintenance & Division of Assets  
•   Custody of Children  
•   Separation Deed  
•   Annulment of Marriage  
 
 
"Mr Campos’s firm has recently represented me in my divorce. It has been a very upsetting an acrimonious case, and I cannot thank them enough for all the help and support they have given me in additional to their very professional services. They have been very flexible and accommodating to my extremely difficult circumstances. Most importantly, right from the beginning I felt that I could trust Mr Campos and his associates. They were honest with me and did all they could to keep my costs low and fought my case in an exemplary and high professional manner."
- Siriwan