What is the Uncontested Divorce Process in Singapore?

Uncontested divorce process Singapore

 

So you’ve settled with your soon-to-be ex-spouse that the divorce is going to be uncontested. Despite the unhappiness, both of you recognize the practical benefits of choosing to go for an uncontested divorce in Singapore.

You’ve talked things through and come to some sort of agreement over the ancillary issues (i.e. child custody, care and control, maintenance, etc).

Now all that’s left to do is to actually get on with your divorce.

The Uncontested Divorce Process in Singapore

STEP 1 – Finding a Lawyer 

While it’s entirely possible to handle an uncontested divorce by yourself, most divorcing couples generally approach a Singapore divorce lawyer to handle their uncontested divorce for them.

Filing for an uncontested divorce isn’t rocket science but it’s much easier to get through the entire process with someone holding your hand (metaphorically, of course). In Singapore, there are a number of divorce lawyers who can assist you in filing your divorce quickly and painlessly. 

STEP 2 – Filing your Divorce Documents

 There are a number of documents that need to be filed in Court for uncontested divorce proceedings. These include:-

  1. The Writ of Divorce;
  2. The Statement of Claim;
  3. The Statement of Particulars;
  4. Acknowledgement of Service; and
  5. Memorandum of Appearance.

If you have children younger than 21, a Proposed Parenting Plan setting out the care arrangements for the children after the divorce will also need to be filed. If there is a property involved, you and your spouse will also have to come to a consensus on what to do with your property.

The person initiating the divorce is called the Plaintiff and it is the Plaintiff who will serve the Writ of Divorce, Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars on the Defendant. Since both parties want the marriage to end in an uncontested divorce, it may appear to be a mere technicality whether the husband or the wife files the divorce.

However, this is an area where parties may end up disagreeing on for any number of reasons (usually pride). The person initiating the divorce has to specify the fact relied on when ending the marriage. In Singapore, there is a sole ground of divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, under which several facts can be relied on, such as:-

  1. Adultery;
  2. Unreasonable Behaviour;
  3. Desertion;
  4. Three years’ separation with consent; or
  5. Four years’ separation.

A large number of uncontested divorce cases tend to be brought under unreasonable behaviour and the parties may disagree on who was truly to blame for the marriage ending, despite the fact that they both want to end the marriage. As such, there are occasions when what started off as an uncontested divorce slowly unravels into a contested one.

Assuming all goes well, and the Plaintiff and Defendant are satisfied with the Statement of Claim and the Statement of Particulars, the Defendant will file the Memorandum of Appearance within 8 days after receiving the Writ of Divorce from the Plaintiff.

STEP 3 – The Divorce Hearing and Interim Judgment

In an uncontested divorce, the Plaintiff can proceed to set down the Writ for trial after the Defendant enters his or her appearance. A hearing date will then be awarded by the Court. Uncontested divorce hearings tend to be simple affairs and it’s usually not necessary for all the parties involved to head to Court (this includes the divorce lawyers as well).

These hearings will usually be held in chambers instead of an open courtroom and are quick, fuss-free affairs. If all goes well, the Judge will grant an Interim Judgment. Congratulations! You’re now divorced and halfway through ending your marriage.

STEP 4 – The Ancillary Matters

If you came to an agreement on all the ancillary matter with your spouse beforehand, there may not be a need for a separate hearing for the ancillary matters. However, it is very common for parties not to contest the divorce but to fight over the ancillaries. In these scenarios, the ancillary matters will be decided in a separate hearing from the divorce.

The ancillary matters that usually have to be decided include:-

  1. Custody, care and control of any children of the marriage;
  2. Access to the children;
  3. Division of the matrimonial home;
  4. Division of matrimonial assets; and
  5. Maintenance of the wife and children.

STEP 5 – Final Judgment

If there are no hiccups in the process, a Final Judgment will be granted after 3 months from the grant of the interim judgment or after the ancillary matters are decided.

How long does the entire uncontested divorce process in Singapore take?

 Uncontested divorce proceedings usually take about 5 to 6 months to resolve. The Interim Judgment is usually granted around 2 to 3 months into the process and Final Judgment will be granted 3 months after.


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