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What is the process like for divorce in Singapore?

Divorce process in Singapore is divided into 2 stages:

  1. Dissolution of Marriage, and
  2. Ancillary Matters

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Stage 1 is for parties to agree that the marriage has broken down based on a Ground of Divorce. Or if the parties cannot agree on the Ground of Divorce, the Court will make a finding. At the end of stage 1, the marriage will be dissolved legally with an Interim Judgement from the Court. However, this is not the end of the divorce process yet.

Parties then move on to stage 2, to settle Ancillary Matters, which are basically more practical arrangements regarding housing, division of shared money and assets, maintenance (also known as alimony) for ex-spouse and child(ren), and custody, care and control of child(ren). Since the decisions on these practical matters could significantly affect lives post-divorce, it is usually not easy for parties to come to an agreement, taking longer to negotiate and compromise.  When parties fail to reach an agreement, it will be contested in Court and the Court will make a decision. At the end of stage 2, the Interim Judgement can be made final. The divorce is now complete.

Timeline of Process

The total time taken, for the simplest case (uncontested at both stages), can be around 6 months from the commencement of the divorce process. This is because there is a requirement of at least 3 months between the Interim Judgement obtained at the end of stage 1 can be finalized at the end of stage 2. The average time taken for the whole divorce process in Singapore is about a year.

Possibility of Reconciliation

The possibility of reconciliation is still real even after the commencement of divorce process. Parties can at anytime before the Interim Judgment to choose to drop the proceeding and give marriage another chance.

During the process, there are opportunities for reconciliation, especially when taking into consideration the interests of the child(ren). For example, after commencing divorce proceedings, there is a compulsory mediation session by the Family Court if there is or are child(ren) under 21 years old in the marriage.

Are you considering if you should give the marriage another chance? Or you are considering other reasons why you may want to hold on? Here are some Considerations over Divorce that may help you to make a decision whether to reconcile or not. You may also wish to speak to counsellors/relationship advisors to get some professional help and advice.    

Commence divorce proceedings

If you have checked that you can divorce in Singapore, have a Ground of Divorce and have decided to commence divorce proceedings, you may want to find out how and whether you should DIY or engage a lawyer here: Do I need a lawyer for my Divorce? You may also wish to consult a lawyer directly to obtain professional advice on your case.

Muslim Law

If you are married under Muslim law, the above may not apply to you. You can find out more about Divorce under Muslim Law (coming up soon).

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