Are you considering or about to embark on the journey of divorce?
Understanding key aspects of the divorce process is crucial if you intend to consult a Singapore divorce lawyer. This article outlines four essential points that couples should consider before initiating a divorce.
Grounds for Divorce
In Singapore, there is only one ground that parties rely upon to obtain a divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Parties may rely upon 5 facts to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down:
- Adultery – Where one party has engaged in sexual intercourse with someone other than one’s spouse;
- Unreasonable Behaviour – Where one party has behaved in such a manner that the other party cannot reasonably be expected to continue living with them;
- Desertion – Where one party has abandoned the other for at least 2 years with no intention of returning;
- Separation for 3 years with Consent – Where parties have lived separate lives for at least 3 years and the other party consents to the divorce;
- Separation for 4 years without Consent – Where parties have lived separate lives for at least 4 years.
Adultery or Improper Association?
In Singapore, adultery is committed when one party engages in sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse. The threshold for proving adultery in Singapore is relatively high and often requires the party applying for divorce to provide conclusive evidence that adultery has, in fact, taken place.
Such evidence may come in the form of a confession from the party who has committed adultery or a report from a private investigator (“PI“). However, hiring a PI is very costly, and there is no guarantee that the PI will find any conclusive evidence that adultery has taken place.
If one is unable to obtain conclusive evidence that adultery has occurred, one may rely on the fact of unreasonable behaviour with improper association instead. Specifically, the party may allege that the other party has improperly associated with members of the opposite gender.
To this end, what is defined as “unreasonable behaviour” is more subjective, which allows the party to successfully file for divorce without having to prove that adultery has taken place conclusively.
Impact on Asset Division and Children’s Matters
In most cases, the reasons for the divorce do not influence decisions regarding the division of matrimonial assets and the children’s issues. Instead, the Court will focus on what is just and equitable and what would be in the children’s best interests.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Parties can either file for a contested or an uncontested divorce. The choice between the two can significantly impact the divorce process.
To be able to file for an uncontested divorce, parties must agree on all issues, including the reason for the breakdown of the marriage and all the ancillary matters (division of matrimonial assets, custody, care and control and access of the children, maintenance for the wife and maintenance for the children), before the divorce papers are filed.
If parties have not agreed on any issue relating to the divorce, the application will proceed on the normal track.
An uncontested divorce is quicker and allows couples to settle their differences amicably and efficiently, often through negotiation, mediation or collaborative law practices.
On the other hand, a contested divorce is a longer and more complex legal process and is often accompanied by higher emotional and financial costs.
The choice largely depends on the parties’ attitude and willingness to collaborate and reach a consensus on their disputes, with the best interests of any children and the fair division of assets being the paramount considerations.
Being well-informed and seeking advice from a family lawyer can help you understand the complexities of the divorce proceedings in Singapore and make the process smoother.
The distinction between contested and uncontested divorces plays a critical role in the process’s duration, cost, and emotional toll.
Individuals should commence their divorce with a clear strategy informed by legal expertise and, when possible, a collaborative mindset. This approach facilitates a smoother transition and helps safeguard the interests of all involved parties, particularly children.