Divorce Law in Singapore
Under the divorce law in Singapore, there is only one ground for divorce and that is the “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”.
To prove irretrievable breakdown of marriage in Singapore, you have to show one of the following facts:
- Unreasonable behaviour;
- Desertion for 2 years;
- Separation for 3 years (with consent);
- Separation for 4 years; or
- Divorce under mutual agreement (from sometime in year 2023).
Divorce Law in Singapore as Covered Under the Women’s Charter
To file for divorce in Singapore, you have to be married for at least 3 years, unless you are able to prove that you have suffered exceptional hardship or if there is exceptional deprivation on the part of your spouse. These are extreme circumstances which are difficult to prove in the Court of Law.
Further, either party has to be a Singapore citizen. In the event that both parties are foreigners, at least 1 party has to be habitually resident in Singapore for more than 3 years.
Unreasonable behaviour is one of the most common facts to prove the irretrievable breakdown of marriage in Singapore based on the divorce law in Singapore. Some examples of unreasonable behaviour include:
- Staying out late at night;
- Refusal to engage in common activities;
- Gambling habits;
- Refusal to engage in sexual intimacy; and
- Long hours at work.
Separation for 3 Years With Consent
Both parties have to agree on divorce. A deed of separation is a good document to have, to prove that parties have indeed separated. If both parties had reconciled briefly, it is possible that the separation can still be considered continued as long as the period of reconciliation is under 6 months.
Separation for 4 Years
In the event that separation is more than 4 years, the consent of the other party is not needed under the divorce law in Singapore.
Starting from sometime in 2023, parties can proceed for divorce if both parties agree that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and the agreement is in writing, stating:
- Parties’ reasons for concluding that the marriage has irretrievably broken down;
- Parties’ efforts in reconciliation; and
- Parties’ consideration for their financial affairs and arrangements for children after the divorce.
Under the divorce law in Singapore, “irreconcilable differences” is not a reason for getting a divorce in Singapore. Hence you will still need to prove one of the facts stated above to show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
Under the divorce law in Singapore, proving the irretrievable breakdown of marriage will only get you the Interim Judgment. To successfully obtain the final judgment of divorce, all ancillary matters must be settled. Ancillary matters include:
- Custody, care and control and access to children;
- Children’s maintenance;
- Spousal maintenance; and
- Division of matrimonial assets.
Parties may agree on these matters privately, through mediation or by way of Court adjudication.