Divorce Within 1 Year of Marriage in Singapore
Under the Women’s Charter, a couple can only file for divorce upon reaching the 3rd year of marriage, in view of the government’s policy consideration in relation to the sanctity of marriage and ensuring that parties do not rush into getting married. Hence, strictly speaking, it is not possible to divorce within 1 year of marriage in Singapore.
However, the Family Justice Court may allow couples to file for divorce within 1 year of marriage in Singapore provided that it can be shown that the Plaintiff (person filing for divorce) is suffering from exceptional hardship or if the Defendant (other party to divorce) has engaged in exceptional depravity. It should be noted that exceptional hardship and exceptional depravity are very difficult to prove and the following cases do not usually constitute exceptional hardship or exceptional depravity:
- Stress; and
- Physical abuse.
Other than proving exceptional hardship or exceptional depravity, the plaintiff would also have to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably based on 1 of the following facts:
- Unreasonable behaviour;
- 4 years separation;
- 3 years separation (with consent);
- Desertion; and
- Divorce by mutual agreement (with effect from 2023).
Alternatives to Divorce Within 1 Year of Marriage in Singapore
You may wish to file for annulment (where there is no legal requirement of being married for 3 years) if:
- There has not been consummation of the marriage due to the wilful refusal/ incapacity of one party;
- There was no valid consent to the marriage by one party;
- The Defendant had a STD at the time of the marriage and this was unknown to the Plaintiff; or
- The Defendant wife was pregnant with another man’s child at the time of the marriage and this was unknown to the Plaintiff husband.
An annulment will void the marriage and this means that the marriage will be taken to have never existed.
You may also consider entering into a separation deed with your spouse in the meantime, or filing a judicial separation, while waiting for the marriage to reach its 3rd year mark. Hence, parties can live apart, legally, and the terms of separation (and subsequent divorce) can also be agreed upon.
Some other ancillary options may be helpful during the period before your marriage reaches the 3rd year mark. For instance, if family violence had occurred, or if you had been placed in fear of hurt, you may wish to apply for a personal protection order.
If you are the wife, or if you have children under your care, you may also seek maintenance from your spouse.
Hiring an Experienced Divorce Lawyer to Assist You
Divorce under normal circumstances is already a difficult process to navigate. If you are seeking to divorce within 1 year of marriage in Singapore, you should consider engaging an experienced divorce lawyer (who handles at least 300 divorce cases a year) to assist you.
An experienced divorce lawyer understands the Court process well and will be able to advise from the onset if you have a good case to divorce within 1 year of marriage in Singapore. If you do not have a good case, you will be advised of the options. If you do have a good case, it takes an experienced divorce lawyer to present the case well for you to obtain the best possible results from the Court.
In a case where your matter is contested (not agreed upon by both parties), it is even more pertinent to have the right advice in this period of time.