Our International Family Law team frequently represents clients living or connected to Singapore in respect of divorce proceedings under English law.
They are experienced in the complexities faced by multi-jurisdictional families living in Singapore and work closely with local and other international experts to offer comprehensive, specialist advice.
The team works across the UK with offices in easy travelling distance from England’s main international airports including London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol. All meetings and updates can be conducted via video conferencing and online service.
Can I get divorced in Singapore?
To get divorced in Singapore either your spouse or you must have been domiciled in Singapore at the time proceedings were commenced or habitually a resident in Singapore for a period of 3 years before proceedings were commenced.
You will be considered domiciled in Singapore if you are a voluntary resident and have the intention of remaining indefinitely. You will be considered a habitual resident in Singapore if you voluntarily reside here for a settled purpose like education, family or employment.
What are the grounds for divorce in Singapore?
There is only one ground for divorce in Singapore – irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
To prove that your marriage has broken down irretrievably, you can rely on any one of the following reasons:
Adultery – your spouse committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with him/her.
Unreasonable behaviour – your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot be reasonably expected to live with him/her.
Desertion – your spouse has deserted you for a period of at least 2 years.
Separation with consent – you have lived apart from your spouse for at least 3 years and your spouse consents to the divorce.
Separation without consent – you have lived apart from your spouse for at least 4 years.
How are property and other capital assets shared? What factors will the Court take into account?
All property and capital assets acquired by either your spouse or you during the course of the marriage will be considered matrimonial assets and thus up for division between parties.
In deciding how the matrimonial assets are to be justly divided, the Court will take into account parties’ respective contributions to the marriage. The Court will then seek to divide the matrimonial assets in a manner that reflects the contributions of each party.
There are two broad categories of contributions that the Court would consider:
Direct financial contributions – payments made towards acquiring the matrimonial assets; and
Indirect contributions – this includes indirect financial contributions (e.g. payments made to household expenses/children’s expenses etc) and indirect non-financial contributions (e.g. sacrifices made during the marriage, the effort put in caring for the children etc).
Do we have to go to Court to resolve financial matters or can we reach our own agreement?
An Order of Court will still be required to bring your marriage to an end. However, if both parties are able to reach an agreement these terms can be recorded as an Order of Court by consent. This will save you from having to go through the entirety of the Court process.
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.
How is maintenance dealt with?
Will the Court order me to pay maintenance to my spouse and children? Is maintenance for my spouse dealt with separately to maintenance for the children?
Spousal and children’s maintenance will be considered as two distinct issues.
Wives and incapacitated husbands are allowed to ask for maintenance from their former spouses under the laws of Singapore.
Generally, the Court will attempt to place former wives/incapacitated husbands in the financial position they would have been in if the marriage had not broken down. This is, of course, subject to the providing spouse’s financial standing and the ability of the former wife/incapacitated husband to provide for herself/himself after the divorce.
Parties who are able to provide for themselves will not be allowed to rely indefinitely on their former spouses.
Under the laws of Singapore, parents have a continuing duty to maintain their children financially.
This duty subsists until the child turns 21 and may be extended beyond that if the child in question has a mental/physical disability, is serving full-time national service in Singapore or will be receiving tertiary education.
The quantum of maintenance ordered will depend on the children’s reasonable expenses and both parent’s respective financially capacities.
What is the Court’s attitude towards child arrangements for children after separation?
How will the Court determine who the children should live with and how much time they spend with the other parent? Will the Court in Singapore be able to make decisions in respect of my children?
The welfare of your children will be the Court’s paramount consideration. The Court will only make orders they believe would be in the best interests of your children.
Children’s issues in Singapore can be divided into the following three categories:
Custody – the parent with custody of the children will be responsible for making major decisions on the children’s lives (e.g. religion, education and medical-related decisions).
Generally, joint custody will be ordered to ensure co-parenting continues even after the marriage has ended.
Care and control – the parent with care and control will be responsible for the children’s daily care and will be the parent whom the children live with.
In making care and control orders, the Court will take into account all the circumstances of the case including (but not limited to) the role both parents played in their children’s caregiving, the relationship each parent shares with their child and, where the children are old enough to express themselves, the children’s wishes.
Access – the parent without care and control will be given reasonable access to their children.
Access orders carve out fixed timings to allow this parent to continue spending time and bonding with their children even though they are no longer living together.
As far as possible, the Court will strive to ensure both parents have fair and reasonable opportunities to continue building a good relationship with their children.
The content on this page was kindly supplied by Foo Siew Fong, Partner, Eversheds Harry Elias