If you want to commence a divorce in Singapore you must prove an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is the only reason to break a marriage in the country. In order to get a divorce, you have to be married for at least 3 years. In rare cases, a divorce may be granted before 3 years of marriage but you will need to prove that you have suffered exceptional hardship or if your spouse has been exceptionally unreasonable and cruel. There is no clear definition of these conditions so it will be up to the court to decide if they are actually met.
Reasons for obtaining a divorce
Proving an irretrievable breakdown involves showing to the court at least one of 4 legally-defined facts.
- Unreasonable behavior
Adultery and unreasonable behavior may be the most prevalent of divorce grounds but they are also the hardest to gather evidence for. In many of these situations involve violence, drug or gambling addiction, deprivation for sex and working overtime. Desertion and separation are similar reasons for commencing a divorce. For desertion the partners must have lived separately for 2 years before the divorce and one of them must have the intention to desert. In such case, the other partner may file papers for divorce. Separation is a period of at least 3 years during which the partners have lived separately. Both partners have to agree to the divorce for that reason.
The divorce can be contested or uncontested. The procedures are similar with the difference that contested divorces involve the filing of defence and counterclaims, pre-trial conferences and other details.
Commencing a divorce procedure
Divorce proceedings are To initiate divorce proceedings, you must file the following documents in Court:
(1) Writ for Divorce, Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars. The Statement of Claim must specify which fact (adultery, unreasonable behavior, desertion, three years’ separation with consent or four years’ separation) you are relying on to ask the Court to grant you a divorce. In the Statement of Particulars, give details of the fact that you are relying on.
(2) Proposed Parenting Plan if you have children below 21. File an Agreed Parenting Plan if you and your spouse (the Defendant) have managed to agree on the care arrangements for your children after the divorce.
(3) Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan if there is a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat to be divided between you and the Defendant. File an Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan if you have managed to agree on what to do with the HDB flat after the divorce.
(4) Acknowledgment of Service.
(5) Memorandum of Appearance.