How to file for divorce

What is a divorce?

A divorce is a legal procedure that ends a marriage. It takes place as a 2 step process:

1. The first stage will determine whether you qualify to get a divorce;
2. The second stage will determine other ancillary matters such as child care and custody, division of assets and maintenance.

Getting a divorce

There are several requirements to be met for a divorce to be granted. First, you must have been married for at least three years before you may file a Writ for divorce to say that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. If your marriage is shorter than 3 years, permission from the court is required if you can prove grave hardship or prove that your spouse has been exceptionally unreasonable.

What does irretrievable breakdown means? Generally, at least one of the following circumstances must be present:

1. Adultery. Your spouse had committed adultery with another person and you find it intolerable to live with him/her because of that.

2. Unreasonable behaviour. Your spouse had behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her.

3. Desertion. Your spouse had deserted you for at least 2 years.

4. Separation for 3 years. You and your spouse had been living apart for at least 3 years AND your spouse agrees to a divorce.

5. Separation for 4 years. This is the length of time required if your spouse does not agree to a divorce.

If you are ready to go ahead with a divorce, you may seek help from one of the best divorce lawyers in Singapore to prepare these documents:

1. A Writ for Divorce;

2. A Statement of Claim;

3. A Statement of Particulars;

4. Plans relating to HDB Property and Parenting of Children.

If you choose to prepare these documents yourself, you should organize all the documents you have in support of your claim as these will eventually have to be shown to the Court. These documents serve as evidence. They may include pay slips, CPF statements, income tax assessments and documents relating to the matrimonial home amongst others. These documents will prove your contributions to the family in order to obtain a more favourable division of the matrimonial assets, as well as impact maintenance.

You may also apply for maintenance, division of matrimonial assets and child care and custody. Child custody is often heavily contested following a divorce. Having a lawyer’s assistance would be beneficial to securing a beneficial outcome. In general, the Courts look at the child’s needs first to determine the spouse who is better suited to have care and custody of the child. This includes factors such as your relationship with the child, your personality and ability to raise children as compared to your spouse, your employment status, your physical and mental well-being, your parenting plans and family environment, etc.

What if you are sued for divorce?

You will be served with a Writ for Divorce together with several other Court documents. If you wish to oppose the divorce, it is very important that you follow the proper procedures. If you simply ignore the Court papers, the Court may decide the case without you. State clearly whether you wish to contest the divorce or you wish the Court to hear you on ancillary matters such as child custody, division of assets and maintenance. If you wish to contest the divorce, you should state so in the Memorandum of Appearance sent to you and then file a Defence and in some instances, a Counterclaim. These documents have to be filed in Court and served on your spouse’s lawyers.

For more information, you may wish to contact one of the best divorce lawyers in Singapore.

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