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The Singapore divorce process

Where you get divorced is important for two reasons.

Firstly, different countries/jurisdictions have different rules around what you need to do and to show in order to end your marriage.

Secondly, it usually follows that if you have divorced in a particular jurisdiction, then the court in that jurisdiction is empowered to deal with your financial assets, at least those that also exist there as well if not assets you hold in other countries.

Courts in different countries can often have different approaches to the way in assets are separated or how maintenance (alimony) is awarded some being more generous to the financially weaker party than others.

Stowe Family Law can help you to decide whether it’s more beneficial for you to get divorced in Singapore or England.


  • Expat divorce in Singapore – who can apply?

    As an expat living in Singapore,, to commence divorce proceedings in Singapore you must:

    1. habitually resident in Singapore for more than 3 years before the start of the divorce; or
    2. ‘domiciled’ in Singapore at the time that the divorce is begun.

    Note 3 years is a longer period of time than other countries, for example in the UK you would only need to be living here for a period of 12 months before you could consider issuing proceedings here.

    If you cannot issue proceedings in Singapore or consider it would be better to issue divorce proceedings in another country / jurisdiction then you need to take advice from a specialist family lawyer in that country.

  • Grounds for divorce in Singapore

    The grounds for divorce in Singapore fall under one of  five headings:

    • Adultery of one spouse
    • One spouse has deserted the other for two years without any intention of returning
    • The parties have lived apart for 3 years and the other party consents to a divorce
    • The parties have lived apart for 4 years
    • Unreasonable behaviour by one spouse

    In England and Wales, there is a no-fault based divorce system which means that you do not have to provide a reason for the breakdown of your marriage, just a statement that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

  • Expat divorce Singapore – how can Stowe Family Law help?

    Stowe Family Law advises clients who reside throughout Southeast Asia, assisting in the processes and best practices that need to be followed in order to go through the English courts and achieve their desired outcome under English law.

    Julian Hawkhead, Senior Partner, heads up a team of lawyers who have extensive experience in dealing with all matters pertaining to international family matters, including International Divorce and International Child Law.

    Our specialist international divorce and family lawyers work with Stowe Family Law clients to understand all of their needs, prior to advising on the best steps to achieve the desired outcome in their expat divorce case.

How does family law in Singapore deal with financial issues?

Alongside the act of divorce which will bring your marriage to an end, the family court can also deal with your financial assets either by transferring ownership if necessary, ordering its sale or in terms of income making orders for one party to pay the other party to support their living costs.

  • Division of matrimonial assets

    Typically, in Singapore matrimonial assets are routinely categorised as assets that are purchased or acquired during the length of the marriage and those outside the period of the marriage. However, this is not an exact definition and exceptions can be made. These exceptions can take into account both financial and non-financial contributions (caring for children, housekeeping etc).

    Like any jurisdiction, the law in Singapore has levels of detail where local expertise is required and we can put you in touch with the right lawyer if it is needed.

  • Maintenance order laws in Singapore

    Singapore law allows for maintenance orders to post divorce, providing maintenance for both children and the wife. Child arrangement orders in Singapore can be made for children up to the age of 21.

    Spousal maintenance in Singapore only covers the wife claiming and receiving support from the husband, and not the other way around. The only exception for this is if the husband has been incapacitated due to a serious illness or disability.

    Spousal maintenance payments can be either a recurring monthly payment, or a one-off lump sum, depending on the agreement.

    The English courts are often recognised as having a more generous approach to the provision of maintenance to support the financially more vulnerable party at the end of the marriage.

  • Financial relief following a foreign divorce

    There are sometimes occasions where the parties have divorced in a different jurisdiction and either has not obtained a financial settlement or has not obtained a sufficient financial settlement. It may be possible to bring an application in the English courts for financial relief under Part III Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984.

    It is not an easy application to make to persuade the English courts should make a further financial award but there are circumstances in which it is both possible and appropriate to do so.  Equally, if the last thing you want is the risk that the English court might make an order then you may require advice about the settlement you are proposing to enter into in your chosen jurisdiction and obtain advice about the risk of a Part III application being made against you at a later date.

  • Will the Court uphold a prenuptial agreement?

    At the end of the day, the Court will divide parties’ matrimonial assets in a manner it deems just and equitable.

    A pre-nuptial agreement will therefore not be upheld as of right. However, it will be a circumstance the Court takes into consideration when deciding how to fairly apportion parties’ assets.

  • Talk to us about UK divorce in Singapore

    Our expert team of international divorce solicitors and family lawyers will guide you through your choices if you are experiencing relationship breakdown issues whilst living in the UAE.

    We frequently work with clients on international matters and will advise you on the most effective and efficient process for you, taking your circumstances into account.

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    Submit your details, and we’ll arrange a free, no-obligation callback at a time to suit you. Please note that we cannot offer Legal aid.


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