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Questions to Ask Before a Divorce in Singapore

Are you thinking of getting a divorce in Singapore? While deciding to split may be a crushing one, you must first come to realise that a divorce can be a costly affair. Here are some things that you should be asking yourself before you go file for one.

Who are the Plaintiff and Defendant?

In divorces, either you or your spouse will serve a writ of divorce to the partner. The person filing for the divorce is the plaintiff, as they are bringing the case against their partner in a Court of Law. The party that received the writ of divorce is the defendant. It is important to know these terms early as you will regularly see legal terms being used during the divorce proceedings.

How Much Will the Legal Fees Cost Me?

The legal fees will vary depending on if it is an uncontested or contested divorce. It can start as low as $999.00 to as high as $20,000. The cost is dependent on a case to case basis. The in contentious or complicated divorces the parties typically file more applications and affidavits. A contentious divorce means that your lawyer would have to spend more time working on the matter, this causes your legal fees to escalate. It would be good to consult your divorce lawyer on the fees that you might be expected to pay. This way, you will have a good grasp of what you are getting yourself into, and you would not be shocked at the bill eventually.

Who Bears the Cost of Legal Proceedings?

In most cases of contested divorces, the cost legal proceedings are usually awarded to the successful litigant. However, any award of costs is at the discretion of the Court. These include costs such as fees, charges, disbursements, expenses and remuneration of the proceedings. Typically you can expect to claim up to two third (2/3) of your legal cost from the other party.

What if I Do Not Have Enough Money for a Divorce?

If you do not have enough money at the time of the divorce to pay your legal fees, you could negotiate with your divorce lawyer for installment payments. As such, it would be to your benefit to ask from the start how much the process will cost you.

If My Spouse Committed Adultery, Will He Have to Pay More?

Not necessarily. Just because one of the parties had committed adultery, it does not mean that he or she will be forced to pay a higher sum than normal for the proceedings. The Courts will also divide the assets under the principle of what is just and equitable, and maintenance will be decided on what the Courts think is ‘reasonable.’

What are Matrimonial Assets?

Matrimonial assets are any assets that were bought either before or during the course of your marriage that has been used both you and your spouse while still together. Assets that have grown and substantially improved during the marriage by either one or both parties can also be considered as matrimonial assets.
Examples of matrimonial assets include the marital house, family car, insurance policies, shares, cash savings, the cash balance in the parties’ respective Central Provident Fund Account, and jewellery, all of which may be divided between the parties in the event of a divorce.

Matrimonial assets that were given to you as a gift or inheritance are usually not considered as matrimonial assets unless your partner can prove that the gift or inheritance has been substantially improved during the course of the marriage or if the gift or inheritance is the matrimonial home.

How Will the Matrimonial Property be Divided?

It would be good if you and your spouse can come to an agreement over how to split the matrimonial property during the pre-trial conference. If the relations are so bad that an agreement cannot be agreed upon, the Court will decide on the matter. They will take into consideration several factors when deciding how to distribute the matrimonial property, we have listed out for you some of the facts below:

  • How much each party has contributed to the marriage. This can be in money, property or work towards acquiring or maintenance of the property;
  • Needs and welfare of the children if any;
  • Agreements between you and your spouse with respect to the ownership and division of the matrimonial assets made due to the divorce; or
  • Debts if any, from the marriage or from the benefit of the child.
  • Once the Court has ascertained the facts, they may make orders to sell and divide the proceeds of your matrimonial assets, give a grant to one of the party’s the matrimonial home over a certain period, or even paying a sum of money to the other party to name a few.

What is Maintenance and how much should be paid?

Maintenance is the provision of financial support for a person’s living expenses. In Singapore, only the wife and children are entitled to maintenance. There is no legal provision for a husband to claim maintenance from a wife or former wife unless he is ill, or disabled.

In deciding the amount, the Court has to consider, amongst other factors, the following:

  • Both you and your spouse’s income,
  • Any financial needs, obligations and responsibilities that you and your spouse may have in the foreseeable future;
  • The standard of living of the family before divorce
  • any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;
  • non-financial contributions made both parties such as the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family; and
  • length of the marriage

In providing maintenance to your spouse, the Courts will ensure that whatever amount to be paid is reasonable and to your means. In the event, something occurs, and that you may not be able to sustain the maintenance, you can vary the amount to be paid. According to Section 119, courts may vary the terms of the agreement if there are any material changes in the circumstances.

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