A divorce is often a taxing affair that comes with financial, physical and emotional costs. It is a life-changing decision with long-standing effects, particularly if children are involved. However, these stresses can be minimised with the right legal assistance and sufficient preparation. Here are ten things to consider before filing for a divorce:
- Assess whether you’ve exhausted all means to save your relationship with your spouse. In Singapore, the only legal ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Under the Women’s Charter, this can be proven on the basis of adultery, desertion, separation and unreasonable behaviour of either or both parties. Furthermore, you wouldn’t want to act rashly or irrationally in the heat of the moment, only to regret your decision later.
- Consider the welfare of your children. The psychological and emotional impact of divorce not only applies to the couple, but extends to the children as well. You need to be aware of how your decisions may affect the wellbeing of your children. If you decide to divorce, one of the biggest issues you will need to settle is child custody. In Singapore, the court’s decision to grant sole or joint custody relies on what it perceives as the best interest for the child. Typically, joint or shared custody is given.
- Strive for an uncontested divorce or a favourable settlement outside the court, to prevent a tedious and drawn out proceeding. As much as possible, try to reach an agreement with your spouse regarding the division of assets, allocation of debts, child custody and support, and other alimony matters before filing the divorce papers. This simple act of practicing due diligence can make all the difference in ensuring a smoother divorce.
- Keep a diary for documentation. By documenting everything that happens within the home and between family members, you can have detailed evidence to support your case of marriage breakdown if the need to divorce or negotiate child custody surfaces. In this diary, you may keep tabs of how much time you or your spouse spend with each other and your children, and if there have been incidences of domestic violence and adultery. Saving or recording calls, e-mails, text messages and other forms of electronic communications to be presented as evidence may also be done.
- Keep track of your family’s finances. Obtain copies of documents stating your assets and liabilities. These include income tax returns, bank and credit card statements, bank account details, investment portfolio and mortgage balance.
- Keep track of your personal financial needs before, during and after the divorce. Even after the divorce has been finalized, you need to know if you have the means to support your new lifestyle, from your personal expenses to your children’s needs, on top of legal costs and the resulting alimony, if necessary.
- What do you intend to do with your matrimonial home? Another consideration that you have to make is where you will live after the divorce. This is particularly important if you are fighting for child custody and care and control. If you want to keep your matrimonial home, you need to have enough funds to cover your spouse’s share of the house. If not, you have the option to sell the home.
- Build your own support group composed of family and friends whom you trust the most. These are the people with whom you can vent to and get support from during this ordeal.
- Life after divorce may be foreign and disorienting. The changes for you and your family may be drastic, and the transition may not be easy. That’s why you should plan out in advance what you envision for your new life in the long run.
- Hire an experienced divorce attorney. This may be the most crucial factor in having a smooth divorce. An experienced lawyer has the skill and in-depth knowledge to give you an edge during a contested divorce, as well as ensure that you get favourable settlements during an uncontested one.
Though some may be put off by potential legal costs, it is highly recommended to have legal support, as the divorce process can be extremely tedious and too complicated for a layman to effectively handle on his own.
Divorce is not a pain-free experience, but with the right attorney, you can go through the entire ordeal as smoothly and comfortably as possible. Godwin Campos is an experienced divorce lawyer specializing in the field of family law, including divorce, annulment and child custody. Learn more about his legal services by calling 6535 1306. Schedule a consultation today.