Whether you are considering filing for a divorce or you have been asked for one, the imminent thing you would want to do before the legal process overtakes you is to get answers for the following questions such as
- What does the whole legal process entail?
- Who will get the children?
- What can I do to get custody, care and control of the children ?
- What about financial support for my children ?
- Am I entitled to maintenance ?
- How do I deal with the assets acquired by one or both of us during the marriage ?
- What can I do to come out better financially ?
n Singapore, the Women’s Charter (Cap. 353) governs divorce proceedings. As your divorce lawyer will advise, in order to file for divorce in Singapore, either of the parties to the marriage must (a) have domiciled in Singapore at the commencement of the proceedings; or (b) habitually resident in Singapore for a period of 3 years immediately preceding the commencement of the proceedings.
It must be noted that no writ for divorce shall be presented to the court unless at the date of the presentation of the writ for divorce, 3 years have passed since the date of the marriage. However, you may still writ for divorce before 3 years have passed on the ground that the case is one of exceptional hardship suffered by you.
The only ground necessary to file for divorce in Singapore is that the marriage between you and your spouse has irretrievably broken down, that is, there is nothing else you and your spouse can do to repair the marital discord. However, you may consider attending counseling sessions to see if the marriage could be salvaged.
In order that the Court is satisfied that your marriage has broken down irretrievably, you must prove one or more of the following facts, namely :-
- That the defendant (your spouse) has committed adultery and the plaintiff (you) finds it intolerable to live with the defendant;
- That the defendant has behaved in such a way that the plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with the defendant;
- That the defendant has deserted the plaintiff for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately preceding the presentation of the writ for divorce;
- That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 3 years immediately preceding the presentation of the writ for divorce and the defendant consents to an interim judgment being granted;
- That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 4 years immediately preceding the presentation of the writ for divorce.
You may wish to live permanently apart from your spouse by reason of one or more of the above facts without commencing divorce proceedings for various reasons. This is possible if you apply to the Court for Judicial Separation.
On a different note, a marriage may be annulled on the following grounds: –
- That the marriage has not been consummated owing to the incapacity of either party to consummate it;
- That the marriage has not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal of the defendant to consummate it;
- That at the time of the marriage the defendant was suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form;
- That at the time of the marriage the wife defendant was pregnant by some person other than the plaintiff.
The above grounds are not exhaustive. You may wish to consult a lawyer for more advice.
An annulment upon being granted by the Court would essentially put you in the position you were before you were married, that is, it is as if you have never been married before.
This is the first part of a four-parts series on divorce matters and proceedings in Singapore.