Lie Chin Chin

Preparing For A Simplified Uncontested Divorce in Singapore

Preparing For A Simplified Uncontested Divorce in Singapore

The Emotional Divorce In Marriage

Divorce is an emotionally draining experience for most couples and many would prefer not to prolong the process beyond what is necessary. Divorcing couples may thus consider filing for an uncontested divorce as parties will typically spend less time and money thereon as compared to when they file for a contested divorce.


An uncontested divorce refers to one where the couple can reach an agreement on the divorce and all ancillary matters – such as custody and access of child(ren) and the division of matrimonial assets. There are, however, cases where a divorce is agreed upon but ancillary matters are not.


Filing for an uncontested divorce simplifies the divorce process, and the divorcing parties may not even be required to appear in Court. If you are looking for information on how to prepare and file for an uncontested divorce in Singapore, this article will discuss everything that you will need to know.


Preparing For A Simplified Uncontested Divorce

 

When a couple is preparing to file for an uncontested divorce, both parties should ensure that they are both in agreement on all matters pertaining to the divorce. These matters include: 


  • Determining which party is to be the Plaintiff and which party the Defendant (i.e. who should file for the divorce?)
  • Grounds for divorce 
  • Custody, care, and control of children (if any)
  • Division of matrimonial assets 
  • Spousal/child maintenance
  • Cost of legal fees

While some couples are able to agree on all aspects of their divorce, others may face problems agreeing on issues such as the division of matrimonial assets and custody of the child. If couples require additional assistance, the following options and resources are available to them:


Options and Resources Available To Divorcing Couples

 
1. Private Mediation 


Private mediation aims to resolve issues surrounding the dissolution of a marriage and ancillary matters in an amicable manner. These issues include the grounds for divorce and the ancillary matters such as child custody, care, and control, access to children, spousal and child maintenance, as well as division of the matrimonial home, division of other matrimonial assets, and costs.


A mediator, who is a neutral third party, will listen to both parties, review all documents and information, and facilitate discussions between them. If parties reach an agreement on all matters, a Consent Order will be drafted and submitted together with the cause papers required to be filed for an uncontested divorce.


 2. 4-Way Lawyer Negotiations 

 

During this procedure, the divorcing spouses will go through a series of “without prejudice” meetings with their lawyers in order to reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. Lawyers on both sides will examine contested issues to offer relevant information and advice to their clients so that they can make informed decisions.


 3. Collaborative divorce

 

Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) is a relatively new dispute resolution process supported by the Family Justice Courts and The Law Society of Singapore that aims to use negotiation to assist divorcing couples in settling matrimonial matters entirely out of court, with the goal of helping divorcing couples achieve positive outcomes while avoiding the social, emotional and costly process of conventional divorce procedures. 


During this procedure, each party engages a collaborative lawyer who will come together with both parties and other family specialists to assist divorcing parties in the resolution of  conflicts by employing cooperative techniques rather than adversarial strategies and litigation.

These collaborative lawyers are practicing family lawyers in Singapore who have undergone specialist training with Singapore Mediation Centre. 


For more information on the available resources, speak to one of our experienced divorce lawyers at Lie Chin Chin’s Family Practice Team. 

Once divorcing spouses have reached an agreement on all the details and issues relating to their divorce, they can then proceed to file for an uncontested divorce. Do note that the parties involved must fulfil the following requirements before they can commence the divorce proceedings:


  • The marriage must be at least 3 years long;
  • At least one spouse must be either a Singapore Citizen, domiciled or has resided in Singapore for the past 3 years; and
  • Married under Civil Law

The process for filing for a simplified uncontested divorce will be discussed in detail in the next section.

Filing For A Simplified Uncontested Divorce


First, divorcing couples should appoint a divorce lawyer to prepare the divorce papers. During this stage, the Defendant (the person receiving the divorce papers) may also seek their own independent legal advice. The divorce papers for uncontested divorce include: 


  • A Writ for divorce – A Court document that commences the divorce proceedings against the Defendant.
  • A Statement of Claim – A Court document that contains the parties’ particulars, the length of their marriage, any children they have, and the reason why the marriage has irretrievably broken down (i.e. adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or separation). It will also state the Plaintiff’s (the person who filed for the divorce) claims on ancillary matters (e.g. what the Plaintiff is seeking with regard to custody, care and control of and access to the children or division of the matrimonial assets).
  • A Statement of Particulars – A statement that provides details on the reason for the irretrievable breakdown of the Marriage (as stated in the Statement of Claim)
  • Draft Interim Judgement
  • Affidavit of Evidence-in-Chief 

Once the contents of the draft divorce papers have been agreed upon by both parties, they will have to swear or affirm some of the documents before a Commissioner for Oaths. Following this, the divorce lawyers will file the divorce papers with the Family Justice Court (FJC) through the e-litigation portal. 


After the FJC receives the divorce papers and if the Defendant does not contest the divorce, a date for an uncontested divorce hearing will be set. Typically, neither party will be required to attend this hearing. During the hearing, the Court will determine if the marriage has indeed broken down irretrievably and will decide on whether to issue an Interim Judgement to formally dissolve the marriage. If Interim Judgment is granted, the marriage is dissolved. The entire divorce process comes to an end when the Final Judgment is issued three months after the date of Interim Judgment.

Ensuring A Smooth Divorce Process

 

Even the preparation and filing for a simplified uncontested divorce has many intricacies that may be difficult for divorcing parties to navigate on their own. As such, there are many considerations and potential issues that a good divorce lawyer will be able to bring to the parties’ attention and help solve. Therefore, divorcing couples should engage a good divorce lawyer to aid them in reaching an agreement on all aspects of their divorce, where possible. This ensures that the process of obtaining a divorce will be relatively smooth. 

 

Going through a divorce in Singapore? Get in touch with our lawyers today to learn more about the process.

Will Divorce Affect My Immigration Status In Singapore?

Will Divorce Affect My Immigration Status In Singapore?

Divorce Documents Singapore

Divorce is often a painful and stressful experience for couples. Such hardship and stress caused may be exacerbated when you are a foreigner trying to navigate your way through the divorce procedure in Singapore. It is likely that one of your main concerns about ending your marriage is how it will affect your immigration status.

 

 

Getting married as a foreigner in Singapore, you are likely to have either a Dependant’s Pass or a Long-term Visit Pass (LTVP). You may even have an Employment Pass, an S Pass, or be a Permanent Resident in Singapore. 

 

Before you jump straight into filing for a divorce, you should first determine the effects that the filing for a divorce would have on you and ensure that your interests are properly safeguarded. Read on for more information on obtaining a divorce as a foreigner in Singapore.

Can You Get A Divorce As A Foreigner In Singapore?

 

The Courts in Singapore can only grant a divorce if the following conditions are met:

 

1.  At least one spouse is domiciled in  Singapore; or at least one spouse is habitually resident in Singapore for at least three years before filing for a divorce

 

‘Domicile’ refers to the state in which a person has made a place their permanent residence. In this case, it refers to permanently residing in Singapore and the intention to make Singapore their permanent home over the course of their lives.

 

‘Habitual residence’ refers to the voluntary residence in Singapore for a settled purpose such as school or work; Singapore should be the place where at least one of the spouses is ordinarily and normally resident in. Short holidays, business trips or other essential trips overseas do not break the continuity of the three-year period. However, if there are substantial, long absences from Singapore, the Court may rule that the continuity of residence in Singapore has been broken. This could affect your eligibility for filing a divorce in Singapore. If you’re unsure of your eligibility, speak to an experienced family lawyer at Lie Chin Chin for more assistance.

 

2.  The marriage has lasted for at least three years leading up to the filing for a divorce

 

In addition, under Section 94 of the Women’s Charter, you cannot apply for a divorce if you have been married for less than three years. However, the Court may, upon special application, allow a writ for divorce to be filed before the three-year period has elapsed. The Court will only do so where the plaintiff has suffered exceptional hardship or where there is exceptional depravity on the part of the defendant.

 

After you have determined your eligibility for divorce in Singapore, you should understand how the filing for a divorce will affect your immigration status in the country. This will be covered in detail in the sections that follow.

 

Also read:

As an Expatriate or Foreigner, Can I Get A Divorce in Singapore?

Desertion – Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

Unreasonable Behaviour – Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage – Adultery

Permanent Residents (PR)

 

From our understanding as experienced divorce lawyers in Singapore, your PR status will most likely remain valid even after your divorce. While you are permitted to live, work, study and retire in Singapore without any time limit, if you leave Singapore after the divorce without a valid Re-entry Permit (REP), your PR status will automatically end. Your eligibility to obtain or renew an REP may also be affected upon your divorce.  

 

For assistance and more information, speak to a good and reliable divorce lawyer in Singapore before you file for a divorce.

Dependant Pass and LTVP

 

There are two scenarios that arise if you are on a Dependant’s Pass or LTVP, depending on whether your spouse is a Singapore citizen or a foreigner.

 

  • Your Spouse Is Also A Foreigner
 

In such a scenario, your spouse may have been granted an Employment Pass (EP) when he/she moved to Singapore for work. You may then have been granted a Dependant’s Pass that was tagged to the EP so that you can live here together with your spouse. 

 

Your spouse may cancel your Dependant’s Pass that was granted to you based on your spouse’s EP at any time. This means that in an acrimonious divorce, if your residence in Singapore is based on a Dependant’s Pass, there is a high risk that you may be forced to leave the country if your spouse chooses to cancel your Dependant’s Pass.

 

However, if you have a job in Singapore and have also obtained an Employment Pass, your own Employment Pass will not be affected after the divorce.

 

Your children’s Dependant’s Pass will only continue to be valid if it is tied to your spouse’s EP that remains valid, and if your spouse is granted care and control of the children. 

 

  • Your Spouse Is A Singapore Citizen
 

You may have been granted an LTVP if your marriage was to a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident. The termination of your marriage will result in the cancellation of your LTVP. 

 

In both cases, it is a prudent idea, if you and/or your spouse are contemplating divorce, to start seeking employment opportunities and obtain a pass of your own, for instance, an Employment Pass or S Pass, that would allow you to continue residing in Singapore even if your Dependant’s Pass gets cancelled. Alternatively, if your child is a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident who has attained the age of majority (21 years of age), he or she can sponsor your LTVP.

Care and Control Over Children

Child Custody after Divorce in Singapore

In Singapore, the Court will usually grant both parents joint custody, with one parent having care and control over the children. This is so that parental bonds are maintained and both parents can carry out their shared responsibilities with regards to the children’s upbringing and development.

 

 

In the likely scenario where both parents are granted joint custody of the children, if you have no right to remain in Singapore, for instance, after the cancellation of your LTVP, Dependant’s Pass, if your children are well settled in Singapore and it would be in their best interests for them to remain in Singapore, you may not be able to obtain care and control over your children. If you have already been granted care and control over your children, your ex-spouse may apply for a variation of the Court order to ask for care and control of the children to be transferred to him/her.

 

 

If you have a child who is studying in Singapore on a Student’s Pass, if you are able to find a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident who is above the age of 21 to be your sponsor, you may apply for a LTVP so that you may continue caring for your child in Singapore. 

 

If you are ultimately unable to remain in Singapore, it may be tempting to try to bring your children back to your home country with you so that you can continue to raise them, especially if you have care and control of the children. 

 

 

However, you must note that if you decide that you wish to leave Singapore with your children after obtaining a divorce, , you will need either the consent of your ex-spouse or the Court to do so. Under Section 126(3) and (4) of the Women’s Charter, you cannot take the child out of Singapore for more than a month unless there is written consent from both parents or permission from the Court. This is regardless of whether you have custody, care and control of your children. 

 

 

If you were to bring your children out of the country without the required consent, this may be considered an act of international child abduction under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

 

 

As a foreigner in Singapore who is seeking to file for a divorce, on top of the issues faced in obtaining a divorce, you will have much to consider in the protection of you and your children’s interests. Therefore, it is crucial that you seek legal advice from a family lawyer in Singapore for guidance and assistance on the divorce procedure and matters related to your continued residence in Singapore and your child’s custody, care and control

Family Lawyers & Divorce Lawyers in Singapore: What Is The Difference?

Family Lawyers & Divorce Lawyers in Singapore: What Is The Difference?

good divorce lawyer in Singapore

The law is complicated and legal documents often contain many legal terms that a layperson may not understand. That’s why the help of a good and experienced lawyer is crucial in the navigation of the legal process and the negotiation of terms of agreement that may arise between parties. This is particularly important for couples who are going through a divorce as there are many issues to consider, including the division of matrimonial assets, determining who will have custody, care and control of the child(ren), and child and/or spousal maintenance. 


Since divorce falls under the jurisdiction of family law, there are many who wonder if family lawyers and divorce lawyers are interchangeable. This article will discuss if there are any differences between the two and how couples can go about choosing the right lawyer for their needs.

What is Family Law in Singapore?

 

To understand how family and divorce lawyers carry out their duties in Singapore, it is crucial to understand the legal context in which they operate. While the Family Justice Courts (FJC) in Singapore handle all legal matters relating to the family, there are two separate sets of family law in the country. One for Muslims and the other for non-Muslims. For the purposes of this article, we will be discussing non-Muslim family law i.e. civil unions. 

 

In Singapore, family law for non-Muslims is codified in the Women’s Charter. Created in 1961, the Women’s Charter is a legislative act that regulates matters such as the relationship between the husband and wife, the relationship between parents and children, the divorce process, and how an appropriate division of matrimonial assets is reached. It also provides for protection against  family violence. 

 

Other aspects of family law include estate and legacy planning, division and distribution of assets after a family member has passed away, adoptions, and dealing with matters related to youths and young persons.

Is There A Difference Between Divorce & Family Lawyers?

 

The main difference between a divorce and a family lawyer boils down to the area in which they are most experienced. While divorce can take up a large part of the work that a family lawyer does, they probably also deal with cases involving other aspects of family law such as Deed of Indebtedness, Trusts, Deeds of Family Arrangement, Renunciation of Rights to inheritance, adoption, probate, legacy planning, inter vivos gifts and family wealth management. On the other hand, a divorce lawyer specialises in the divorce procedure in Singapore. As such, family lawyers are likely to be able to provide a wider scope of advice and a more comprehensive suite of services. At Characterist LLC, the Family Practice Team practises in multi-faceted areas of family law.

family lawyer in Singapore

Choosing The Right Lawyer For Your Needs

 

Whether you are engaging the services of a divorce lawyer or a family lawyer, it is critical to engage a lawyer who can properly understand their clients’ needs and provide sound legal advice and services accordingly. There are two guidelines in particular that can assist one in determining the best lawyer for them.

 

1. Determine the type of legal service you are seeking

 

Finalisation of adoption, estate planning, division and distribution of inheritance, and filing for a divorce or annulment are some legal services provided by family lawyers. During a divorce, a lawyer will need to render services such as raising potential issues and concerns relating to the divorce to their client, the drafting of legal documents, handling negotiations between spouses, and even litigating. 

 

 

Before deciding on the best lawyer or the best type of lawyer to engage, one should first take inventory of the issues and problems they are facing and consider what goals they wish to achieve in order to determine what type of legal service they require, and, consequently, what kind of lawyer would best suit their needs.

 

2. Determine the lawyer’s experience in the specific legal service 

 

Similar to most other industries, the more experience a lawyer has, the better he or she will be at providing the legal services you need. Finding a lawyer most suitable for you involves asking friends and family for recommendations and reading online reviews; it is also important to speak with the lawyer in person to gauge for yourself whether the lawyer is the right person for you. In addition, it is imperative to educate oneself on simple legal matters so as to be cognisant of the kinds of questions to ask the lawyer.

Dealing With Family Matters In Singapore

 

At the end of the day, family matters are deeply personal. It is thus important to choose a good family lawyer that can competently handle all legal matters and who will not draw out the process for longer than is necessary. This is vital for divorce proceedings as they are often a highly emotional time for all parties involved.

 

Lie Chin Chin has a dedicated team of divorce and family lawyers to guide you through the family law landscape in Singapore. Contact us today to find out more.

Divorce in Singapore: Can I get a divorce?​

As an Expatriate or Foreigner, Can I Get A Divorce in Singapore? How Can I Get a Divorce in Singapore If I Live Abroad?

It is understandable to feel stressed, frustrated, worried and trapped if you are in an unhappy marriage. The confusion and strain you feel is probably compounded, because you are not usually resident in Singapore, because you are an expatriate or a foreigner, or simply because you are unsure of how exactly a divorce works in Singapore. Here are some useful points to give you more clarity and certainty if you are considering applying for a divorce in Singapore.

Why should I choose to get a divorce in Singapore?

If you are currently staying in Singapore, it If you are currently staying in Singapore, it makes practical sense to get a divorce here.


It would be more convenient in instructing your lawyers, and in attending Court and mediation. Additionally, if your spouse is in Singapore, it would be easier to fulfil Court requirements, such as to deliver the divorce documents to your spouse.

– Lie Chin Chin “Instant Legal Protection for Your Family”, page 96

 

Where you have matrimonial properties in Singapore, it would also be easier to enforce any Court order that you may obtain with respect to these properties if you get a divorce in Singapore.

Case Study: 


Our client, Ms X, is from Australia. She was deciding between getting a divorce in Australia and getting a divorce in Singapore. Her husband, Mr Y, owned some properties in Singapore, so we advised her to get a divorce in Singapore. During the course of the divorce proceedings, we discovered that Mr Y had been actively trying to sell all his properties before the completion of the divorce proceedings so that he would not have to split these properties with Ms X. Since the divorce application was in Singapore, the Court was able to quickly prevent Mr Y from dissipating his properties, and Ms X was able to receive a fair share of the properties, as ordered by the Court.

You can get a divorce in Singapore when:

  1. The Singapore Courts have the power to order your divorce, AND 

         Either:

2(a) You have been married for at least 3 years and you can prove an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, or

2(b) Your marriage is shorter than 3 years and falls within certain exceptions.

You can get a divorce in Singapore when:

 
  1. The Singapore Courts have the power to order your divorce, and either
  2. You have been married for at least 3 years and you can prove and irretrievable breakdown of your marriage or
  3. Your marriage is shorter than 3 years and falls within certain exceptions

When do Singapore Courts have the power to make a divorce order?

 

The Singapore Courts have the authority and power to order a divorce if you and/or your spouse are a Singapore Citizen(s) or Permanent Resident(s). Otherwise, you and/or your spouse must have been habitually resident in Singapore for 3 years immediately before the start of divorce proceedings.

What is considered being “habitually resident” in Singapore?

 

Being habitually resident in Singapore means that you and/or your spouse must voluntarily be staying in Singapore. Even if you travel out of Singapore, you have a habit or pattern of returning to Singapore. In past cases, the Court has decided that long absences may break the period of habitual residence.

 

What if I wanted to stay in Singapore, but circumstances required me to stay overseas for prolonged periods?

 

Unfortunately, the Court will not accept your long absences from Singapore, and you will not be considered to be habitually resident in Singapore. The Court has stated that the reason why a party is not resident in Singapore is irrelevant, it will only look at whether or not you were actually resident in Singapore.

Unfortunately, the Court will not accept your long absences from Singapore, and you will not be considered to be habitually resident in Singapore. The Court has stated that the reason why a party is not resident in Singapore is irrelevant, it will only look at whether or not you were actually resident in Singapore.

 

Case Study 1:


The Family Court has stated in a past case that short absences do not necessarily break the continuance required in three years of habitual residence. However, the parties in that case, who are both citizens of the United Kingdom, both spent long periods in various other countries including the United Kingdom and Indonesia.

 

The wife claimed that the husband made it impossible for her to stay in Singapore as he did not provide her with reasonable maintenance. However, the Court stated that her reason for residing overseas was irrelevant, and since the parties were unable to prove that either of them stayed in Singapore for three years preceding the application for divorce, the Court did not have jurisdiction.

My marriage has lasted for 3 years or more, how can I prove irretrievable breakdown of marriage?

 

The Court will only accept one reason for divorce in a marriage lasting for 3 years or more: that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of your marriage. You may prove irretrievable breakdown of marriage in several ways:

 

1. Adultery

 

You may show that your spouse has committed adultery and that you find it intolerable to live with your spouse. Read more here.


2. Unreasonable Behaviour


You may show that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with your spouse.

Read more here.


3. 2 Years of Desertion


You may show that your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately before you commence your divorce proceedings in Court. Read more here.


4. Separation

 

  • 3 Years of Separation (with spousal consent to the divorce)

 

You may show that you and your spouse have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 3 years immediately before you commence your divorce proceedings in Court and your spouse consents to the application for divorce.

 

  • 4 Years of Separation (without the need for spousal consent to the divorce)

 

You may show that you and your spouse have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 4 years immediately before you commence your divorce proceedings in Court. 

 

To understand more about how separation can be proof of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, Read more here.

My marriage is shorter than 3 years, in what situations can I get a divorce now?

 

If you have been married for less than 3 years, you will have to make an application for the Court’s permission to file for divorce. The Court will only allow you to get a divorce in these circumstances if you can prove that you are suffering extreme hardship, or if your spouse is extremely depraved.


1. You must prove that you have suffered extraordinary hardship, which must be out of the ordinary and more than what an ordinary person should reasonably have to bear; and

 

2. You must also show the Court that waiting for 3 years before getting a divorce would be impossible due to the amount of suffering you will go through during that period.

 

Case Study – Exceptional hardship proven in Court

 

This case before the Singapore Courts provides an example of what the Court would accept as exceptional hardship. Mr Ng got married to Ms Fu through a marriage agency. Just 5 months after the marriage, Mr Ng tried to get a divorce

 

During their honeymoon, Ms Fu ran away from Mr Ng when he tried to hold her hand and warned him against putting his arm around her shoulder. She also refused to have sexual intimacy with him until three days after their marriage, and even then, she was unresponsive and refused to allow him to touch her face. She always slept as far as possible from Mr Ng while placing a bolster between them. 

 

Furthermore, Ms Fu was constantly on the phone with her friend, Ms Q, even during her honeymoon, took every opportunity to stay over at Ms Q’s house and had to be begged to return to the matrimonial home. Ms Fu once ran towards a highway as if to commit suicide. She only calmed down once Mr Ng allowed her to stay overnight with Ms Q. Ms Fu and Ms Q eventually returned to their hometown in China. Ms Fu then cut off contact with Mr Ng and refused to return to Singapore. 


Mr Ng stated that he felt cheated, humiliated and depressed as he was already past 40 years of age and desperately wanted to settle down and start a family. He felt that this marriage was hopeless, and he wanted to be free again to look for a life partner. The Court felt that Mr Ng experienced exceptional hardship as Ms Fu had absolutely no regard for the union, and that she entered into the marriage capriciously. The Court also felt that it would be extremely unfair to Mr Ng to make him wait three years before seeking a divorce.

 

Case Study – Exceptional depravity proven in Court

 

Although Mr Foo and Ms Chan were married for only a little over one year, the Court gave Mr Foo leave to file for divorce. Ms Chan and Mr Foo were already sleeping in separate bedrooms when Mr Foo discovered that Ms Chan had been bringing a man home and having sexual relations with him while Mr Foo was still living in the house.

 

By bringing a man back to the matrimonial flat where the husband was residing and by not even trying to conceal her adulterous acts in any way, the Court found that Ms Chan acted in blatant disregard of Mr Foo’s feelings and the marriage. The Court found that these actions were a deliberate provocation of Mr Foo, and amounted to exceptional depravity on Ms Chan’s part.

 

*If you are unable to fulfil any of the above requirements, or if you do not wish to get a divorce just yet, there are alternatives that you may consider. Learn more from the best divorce lawyer in Singapore.

For Immediate Assistance

If you are facing a situation whereby you are in need of urgent legal advice, please do contact our Client Care Team to connect with one of our team’s representative.
Contact our Client Care Team at  +65 9852 5181

Child Custody Lawyer: Custody, Care and Control of Children in Divorce Proceedings

Custody Care and Control of Children in Divorce Proceedings

During divorce proceedings, the care and living arrangements of your children would be one of the pressing matters to attend to. The Court can make orders on custody, care and control and access to your children. When the Court considers these matters in a divorce, their priority is the welfare and best interests of your children.

 

What is Custody?

 

Custody is the right to have a say in the major decisions relating to the upbringing and education of your children.

 

Joint Custody 

 

In most cases, the parties to the marriage are granted joint custody of their children. Both you and your spouse will have the right to jointly decide on major issues relating to your children. If parties are unable to agree on the issues, either parent can apply to court for a decision on the disputed issues. 

 

Sole Custody

 

The parent with sole custody can make major decisions for the children without the agreement of the other parent.

The Court grants sole custody only in exceptional cases, such as cases where one parent has physically, sexually or emotionally abused the children. Where there are exceptional circumstances which make it undesirable that the children be entrusted to either parent, the Court may grant custody to any other suitable relative of the children.

“In recent times, parties are usually granted joint custody, meaning that both parents still have the right to jointly decide custody issues relating to the child(ren). This is because the Court recognises that unlike marital relationships which can be ended through divorce, the blood ties between each parent and the child(ren) are not, and should not be, as easily severable.”

– Lie Chin Chin Instant Legal Protection for Your Family, page 134

Split Custody


Custody of one or more children is granted to one party and custody of the other children is granted to the other parent after the divorce in Singapore.

This order is rare and only given when it can be shown how this would be a preferred order that serves the best interest of the children. 


Conditional Custody


Sole custody is granted with conditions e.g. non-custodial parents must be consulted on certain matters like religion or marriage and so on.

Child Care After Divorce in Singapore

In a Court case, Ms CX asked the Court to grant her sole custody of her child. She alleged that her husband, Mr CY, constantly failed to pay for their child’s maintenance and medical expenses. She also stated that he used foul language and abused her in front of the child. Ms CX also alleged that Mr CY’s affairs with other women would be a negative influence on their child. However, Mr CY exhibited a desire to maintain contact with the child and to maintain the child. 

 

The Court found that Ms CX’s allegations were insufficient to warrant granting her sole custody of the child as parental responsibility was for life and neither parent had a better right over the child. The Court looked at what would be best for the child and found that in this situation, both parents clearly loved the child and could eventually cooperate for the benefit of the child. The Court emphasised that it would look to act in the child’s best interests and stated that the child has a right to the guidance of both his parents. The Court thus dismissed Ms CX’s claim for sole custody and granted joint custody.

 

What is Care and Control?

 

Care and control is the right to have a say in the day to day decisions of your children’s lives, and it also determines whom the children stay with on a daily basis. 

 

Care and Control to One Parent

 

The Court decides with whom the children should stay based on what is in their best interests. The Court may consider any factors that would affect its determination of the best interests of the children. 

 

If the children are young, the Court usually orders that they stay with the mother unless there are factors showing the mother to be an unsuitable care giver. In the case of older children, the Court will likely give more weight to the wishes of the children. 

 

Care and Control

The Court does not normally split up the care and control of the siblings . For example, the court will not incline towards an order granting the father care and control of the son and the mother care and control of the daughter. Parties seeking orders deviating from the norm will have to show good reasons that the orders they seek are in the best interests of the children.

 

The Court may be reluctant to order a sale of the matrimonial home if the children would otherwise have no place to stay. However, the Court may have no choice but to order the house to be sold if the party having care and control of the children have no means to retain the house, for example, by being unable to take over the mortgage loan.

 

What is an Access Order?

 

Access is the right of the non-custodial parent  to visit and interact with the children. The Court will consider the practicality of the access arrangements with regards to the children’s welfare and how reasonable these arrangements are. Usually, access may be given on part of the weekends, half of the school holidays and alternate public holidays and birthdays of the children.

 

Supervised Access 

 

The  access order may also have conditions such as supervised access where the guardian of the children or a third party must be present during the access sessions after the divorce. This tends to be granted only in special situations such as where the parent and children need to get used to each other or in cases where there has been abuse involved. 

 

The Court may order liberal or reasonable access and allow the parents to work out the access arrangements between themselves. Alternatively, the Court may order fixed access times if the parents are unable to coordinate their schedules with respect to access or are unable to reach an agreement regarding access arrangements.

 

Case Study of amendment of an access order:

 

In a previous case we have handled, the children of the marriage lived with Ms H. The Court granted the ex-husband, Mr W, overnight access to the children on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. However, after the first week of carrying out these orders, the parties found that this arrangement was too taxing for their children, who were being ferried from parent to parent within a short span of time. 

 

The parties thus came to an agreement between themselves for the children’s sake: Mr W would have overnight access on alternate weekends and would be able to pick the children from school every Thursday and Friday. The Court was more than willing to amend its order to accommodate this agreement as it was for the benefit of the children. Furthermore, upon hearing that during their time with Mr W, the children would occasionally fail to do their homework, the Court also warned Mr W that he would have to ensure that their school work would not be adversely affected. We thus see that the Court makes orders that would be in the children’s best interests.

 

Structured Access 

 

Here is an example of how a Court order for access can be structured: 

Parent A has care and control of the children. The Court may order that Parent A is to pick the children from school every Monday and Tuesday, whereas Parent B is to pick the children from school and send them back to Parent A’s house every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Parent B also gets to spend Saturdays, from 9am onwards, with the children, but must send them back to Parent A’s house by 10pm on the same day.

 

Liberal Access

 

The following is an example of a more liberal access order: 

 

Parent A has care and control of the children. The Court could order that Parent A is to pick the children from school every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Parent B is to pick the children from school every Thursday and have dinner with them before sending them back to Parent A’s house by 8pm. On Fridays, Parent B can pick the children from school and have overnight access. Parent B will only need to send the children back to Parent A’s house the next day (Saturday) by 7pm.

 

Have any more questions about divorce in Singapore as well as child custody? We will gladly provide legal advice. Consult a good divorce lawyer today!

In a Court case, Ms CX asked the Court to grant her sole custody of her child. She alleged that her husband, Mr CY, constantly failed to pay for their child’s maintenance and medical expenses. She also stated that he used foul language and abused her in front of the child. Ms CX also alleged that Mr CY’s affairs with other women would be a negative influence on their child. However, Mr CY exhibited a desire to maintain contact with the child and to maintain the child. 

The Court found that Ms CX’s allegations were insufficient to warrant granting her sole custody of the child as parental responsibility was for life and neither parent had a better right over the child. The Court looked at what would be best for the child and found that in this situation, both parents clearly loved the child and could eventually cooperate for the benefit of the child. The Court emphasised that it would look to act in the child’s best interests and stated that the child has a right to the guidance of both his parents. The Court thus dismissed Ms CX’s claim for sole custody and granted joint custody.

What is Care and Control?

 

Care and control is the right to have a say in the day to day decisions of your children’s lives, and it also determines whom the children stay with on a daily basis. 

Care and Control to One Parent

 

The Court decides with whom the children should stay based on what is in their best interests. The Court may consider any factors that would affect its determination of the best interests of the children. 

If the children are young, the Court usually orders that they stay with the mother unless there are factors showing the mother to be an unsuitable care giver. In the case of older children, the Court will likely give more weight to the wishes of the children. 

Care and Control

 

The Court does not normally split up the care and control of the siblings . For example, the court will not incline towards an order granting the father care and control of the son and the mother care and control of the daughter. Parties seeking orders deviating from the norm will have to show good reasons that the orders they seek are in the best interests of the children.

The Court may be reluctant to order a sale of the matrimonial home if the children would otherwise have no place to stay. However, the Court may have no choice but to order the house to be sold if the party having care and control of the children have no means to retain the house, for example, by being unable to take over the mortgage loan.

What is an Access Order?

 

Access is the right of the non-custodial parent  to visit and interact with the children. The Court will consider the practicality of the access arrangements with regards to the children’s welfare and how reasonable these arrangements are. Usually, access may be given on part of the weekends, half of the school holidays and alternate public holidays and birthdays of the children.

Supervised Access 

 

The  access order may also have conditions such as supervised access where the guardian of the children or a third party must be present during the access sessions after the divorce. This tends to be granted only in special situations such as where the parent and children need to get used to each other or in cases where there has been abuse involved. 

The Court may order liberal or reasonable access and allow the parents to work out the access arrangements between themselves. Alternatively, the Court may order fixed access times if the parents are unable to coordinate their schedules with respect to access or are unable to reach an agreement regarding access arrangements.

Case Study of amendment of an access order:

 

In a previous case we have handled, the children of the marriage lived with Ms H. The Court granted the ex-husband, Mr W, overnight access to the children on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. However, after the first week of carrying out these orders, the parties found that this arrangement was too taxing for their children, who were being ferried from parent to parent within a short span of time. 

The parties thus came to an agreement between themselves for the children’s sake: Mr W would have overnight access on alternate weekends and would be able to pick the children from school every Thursday and Friday. The Court was more than willing to amend its order to accommodate this agreement as it was for the benefit of the children. Furthermore, upon hearing that during their time with Mr W, the children would occasionally fail to do their homework, the Court also warned Mr W that he would have to ensure that their school work would not be adversely affected. We thus see that the Court makes orders that would be in the children’s best interests.

Structured Access 

 

Here is an example of how a Court order for access can be structured: 

Parent A has care and control of the children. The Court may order that Parent A is to pick the children from school every Monday and Tuesday, whereas Parent B is to pick the children from school and send them back to Parent A’s house every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Parent B also gets to spend Saturdays, from 9am onwards, with the children, but must send them back to Parent A’s house by 10pm on the same day.

Liberal Access

 

The following is an example of a more liberal access order: 

Parent A has care and control of the children. The Court could order that Parent A is to pick the children from school every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Parent B is to pick the children from school every Thursday and have dinner with them before sending them back to Parent A’s house by 8pm. On Fridays, Parent B can pick the children from school and have overnight access. Parent B will only need to send the children back to Parent A’s house the next day (Saturday) by 7pm.

Have any more questions about divorce in Singapore as well as child custody? We will gladly provide legal advice. Consult a good divorce lawyer today!

For Immediate Assistance

If you are facing a situation whereby you are in need of urgent legal advice, please do contact our Client Care Team to connect with one of our team’s representative.
Contact our Client Care Team at  +65 9852 5181

Getting An Annulment in Singapore: Things To Know

Getting An Annulment in Singapore: Things To Know

Choosing to end a marriage is a monumental decision, and going through the process of divorce is often a painful time for all parties involved, even if it was amicable. However, divorce is not the only option available and may not even be the most suitable solution for some couples. An option that many overlook is obtaining an annulment of marriage. As such, this article will discuss when annulment is suitable, as well as the process and requirements of obtaining an annulment so that couples can make an informed decision.

What Is An Annulment?

 

An annulment refers to the legal process in which a marriage is dissolved and considered null. In essence, the marriage will be treated as if it has never existed. This process originated from old English religious laws. As the Church did not recognise divorce, the annulment process was created as a way to dissolve unhappy unions without going against the law. 

After an annulment, both parties legally return to ‘single’ status. This is different from a divorce whereby both parties are given the legal status of ‘divorced’. Annulment may thus be appealing to couples who would like to avoid the possible stigma associated with being divorced. Another reason why annulment is a better option for some couples is that they do not have to wait for a minimum period of 3 years from the date of their marriage to apply for one, which is a requirement for divorce in Singapore

Preparing For An Annulment In Singapore

 

In general, there are 3 things that couples need to prepare before filing for an annulment in Singapore. They are: 

 

1. Proof that the marriage is void or voidable

 

The most important thing to remember is that for an annulment to be granted, there needs to be proof that the marriage is not valid. This means that the marriage must be either void or voidable. 

 

Void marriages refer to marriages that are invalid from the very beginning. In such cases, as long as one party has proof that there was some failure in obtaining a valid marriage in Singapore, an annulment can be obtained. Void marriages include those that are:

 

  • Improperly solemnised i.e. the marriage was not solemnised on authority of a valid marriage license issued by a Registrar or person who has a license to solemnise marriages; if there were less than two credible witnesses, or if there was no consent between parties.
  • Unions in which both parties are related to a certain degree
  • Unions in which one or both parties are below the age of 18 and a special marriage license was not obtained 
  • Polygamous 
  • Unions in which both parties are the same gender 
  • Unions between 2 Muslims that are solemnised under the Women’s Charter
  • Invalid overseas marriages by virtue of the law of the country where it was celebrated
  • Marriages of convenience
 

On the other hand, a voidable marriage refers to a union that may have been valid at the time of the union but due to certain circumstances, it has been rendered invalid. Similarly, one party has to show proof of the marriage being voidable before an annulment can be granted. Voidable marriages refer to those that:

 

  • Have not been consummated due to either party being incapable of consummating the marriage
  • Have not been consummated due to  one of the party’s refusal to consummate the marriage without good reason
  • Were not validly consented to by either party, for example, due to duress, mistake, mental disorder or otherwise
  • Has one of the parties suffering from a transmissible venereal disease at the time of the marriage that the other party did not know about
  • The wife was pregnant by another person at the time of marriage and the husband was not aware of the fact
  • Has one of the parties suffering from a mental disorder at the time of marriage such that he or she was unfit for marriage
 

As the Court can refuse to grant an annulment if the evidence is not sufficient, the help of a good divorce lawyer can ensure that there is enough valid and useful proof alluding to a void or voidable marriage.

 
2. Apply for an annulment within 3 years 

 

This is only applicable for voidable marriages. If a spouse wants to annul a marriage due to special circumstances rendering it invalid, they will have to file for annulment within 3 years. The only exception where proof of voidable marriage is accepted for long marriages is when there is evidence of nonconsumption of the marriage either due to the refusal or incapacity of one party or both parties. 

For void marriages, there is typically no time limit. 

 

3. Decide on ancillary matters 

 

Similar to the divorce process, the Courts will grant an Interim Judgement before moving to settle on ancillary matters such as division of matrimonial assets, spousal maintenance, child custody and maintenance (if applicable) if the married couples have not reached an agreement on them beforehand. As such, the courts will consider the same factors in splitting the assets for an annulment as for a divorce. Do take note that ancillary proceedings are only applicable for annulments of voidable marriages and not void marriages as void marriages are considered invalid from the beginning. 

 

Married couples are encouraged to try to reach an agreement regarding ancillary matters so that the annulment process can proceed as smoothly and quickly as possible. This includes reaching an agreement on custody, care and control of and access to children (if any), division of matrimonial assets, and spousal/child maintenance. 

 

For couples who own a flat from the Housing Development Board (HDB), it is crucial that they present a matrimonial property plan detailing the proposed arrangements. This is because most annulments are applied within 3 years, which is below HDB’s minimum occupancy period of 5 years. In most cases, the flat is returned to HDB. Nevertheless, if a couple wants to retain the HDB flat after their marriage has been annulled, they can consult a divorce or family lawyer to discuss their options.

Filing For An Annulment in Singapore 

 

Since the annulment process, like most legal procedures, can be complex, a divorce or family lawyer in Singapore should be engaged to prepare the necessary documents. The documents to file to obtain an annulment include: 

 

 

  • A Writ for Nullity – a document that commences the annulment process. 
  • Statement of Claim – a court document that details the grounds of the annulment 
  • Statement of Particulars – a court document that consists of the facts supporting the grounds for annulment. 
  • A Proposed/Agreed Parenting Plan – a document that details the proposed arrangements for the children (if any)
  • A Proposed/Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan – This is applicable for couples who own an HDB flat together and is a document that details the proposed arrangements for the said property. 
 

 

These documents will be filed with the Family Justice Courts and served on Defendant, who may file a Memorandum of Appearance stating whether or not they intend to contest the annulment.

 

 

If the annulment is uncontested, a date for an uncontested court hearing will be set, and both parties must attend. Before issuing an Interim Judgement, the Judge will ask both parties a few questions during the hearing. However, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Judge may grant an Interim Judgement without requiring both parties to appear if no further questions are required. Three months after the issuance of the Interim Judgment, a Judgement of Nullity will be issued, bringing the annulment proceedings to a close and the marriage is then officially annulled.

 

 

All in all, an uncontested annulment process will take approximately 4 to 5 months to complete. If, on the other hand, the Defendant contests the annulment, the process will likely be a much longer one.

annulment in singapore

Conclusion 

 

For married couples who wish to end their union, it is good practice to consider the various different options available before deciding to settle on one. Whether they are considering a divorce or annulment, couples will benefit greatly from consulting an experienced divorce lawyer who can provide sound legal advice and help to navigate the complexities of the legal landscape in Singapore. 

 

Lie Chin Chin has a dedicated team of divorce and family lawyers to guide you through the divorce process in Singapore. Contact us today to find out more

What Are The Common Reasons For Divorce In Singapore?

What Are The Common Reasons For Divorce In Singapore?

Singapore divorce process

Cultivating meaningful relationships requires a lot of dedication and effort – this is even more so in a marriage. With 1 in 4 marriages likely to end up in a divorce in Singapore, it goes to show that maintaining a marriage is not easy. While there are many reasons for divorce, only one ground for divorce is recognised by the Singapore courts – an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This article will outline the top 5 reasons for divorce in Singapore in 2021, whether couples can use them to prove an irretrievable breakdown in their marriage, and how they can do so.

1. Breakdown in communication

 

Many couples argue because of stressful situations such as career problems, financial issues, child care, and any number of mundane problems that slowly accumulate because they were not addressed properly. While disagreements are an inevitable part of any relationship, failure to resolve them can result in resentment and animosity, which can lead to a breakdown in communication. This makes it difficult for the couple to understand each other’s points of view, which may lead to the cultivation of a hostile home environment.

Moreover, constantly using unhealthy communication methods such as yelling, verbal abuse, and giving each other the silent treatment may also put an immense strain on a relationship. In most cases, going for marriage counselling could be a preferred option. However, if the breakdown in communication gets too severe for one or both parties such that they cannot be reasonably expected to live with each other, they can cite unreasonable behaviour in the form of a severe communication breakdown as a fact to prove an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. 

For instance, as in most marriages, Mr and Mrs Eu found themselves quarrelling over matters such as the upkeep of the house and the brands of household items to buy. This alone may not have been enough to prove unreasonable behaviour and a consequent irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

However, Mr and Mrs Eu’s quarrels became more and more heated over time. As a result, Mr Eu, as someone who is extremely meticulous, clean and particular about the cleaning products he uses, started getting extremely stressed and irritable every time he talked to his wife; who not only complained that the products he suggested were too expensive, but also refused to clean the house and would nag and complain about being inconvenienced whenever Mr Eu did the cleaning.

Eventually, Mr and Mrs Eu stopped talking to each other completely; the few times they decided to speak to each other would always end up in both parties shouting loudly and Mrs Eu crying. At this point, Mr Eu filed for divorce, stating that there was unreasonable behaviour on Mrs Eu’s part and the marriage had thus irretrievably broken down.

2. Monetary issues

 

Serious financial issues can result in a lot of stress for married couples – especially if there are children involved. Continuous disagreements over expenses may also strain a marriage and lead to its breakdown. Typically, for most couples, the relationship improves once the financial issues are resolved. If couples are unable to resolve their financial woes and/or disagreements on their own, they can visit a Family Service Centre (FSC) where they will be given the appropriate resources to address their needs. 

Nevertheless, if financial problems become serious enough, the behaviour that caused it may be considered a form of unreasonable behaviour, or the financial problem itself may result in unreasonable behaviour – one of the five facts that prove an irretrievable breakdown of a marriage.

In our experience, we have found that financial issues and stressors are some of the most common reasons for divorce. For instance, our client, Mdm Pei, was seeking a divorce from her husband. She felt that he was fiscally irresponsible and his behaviour was causing her inordinate amounts of stress.

Mdm Pei was employed as a receptionist while her husband was a real estate agent and had been the main breadwinner in the family. However, he had begun to stay at home more often and hardly had any appointments. As such, the monthly household income dropped drastically. Notwithstanding this, Mdm Pei’s husband started spending large amounts of money. He bought a new Audi with custom license plates, a Rolex watch and several pairs of custom-made leather shoes. He had also withdrawn monies from their children’s savings accounts and refused to return the monies.

This behaviour persisted and Mdm Pei was put under the extreme stress of providing financially for the family and caring for the children when she was home. She finally decided to file for a divorce after she discovered that her husband had sold most of her jewellery that she kept in a locked drawer. It was found that there was an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage due to Mdm Pei’s husband’s unreasonable behaviour.

Accordingly, where one party to a marriage believes that the other is behaving unreasonably when it comes to monetary matters, and finds it unbearable to live with said partner, they may be able to file for divorce. Gambling beyond one’s means, refusing to contribute to household expenses, and spending money in an irresponsible manner are common examples of unreasonable behaviour related to financial issues. In such situations, the help of a good divorce lawyer will ensure that a successful case can be made out.

3. Lack of intimacy and/or romance

 

Having a romantic and/or intimate connection is an important factor in many marriages. However, meeting the other demands of marriage, such as child care, day-to-day household management, and work responsibilities, may result in a couple spending less time together and, in turn, being less intimate or romantic with each other. On the other hand, a lack of intimacy and/or romance may even be a symptom of other problems, such as a breakdown of the relationship caused by communication or financial issues.

Some couples may be able to find ways to rekindle the spark between them, while others may not. However, some may choose to stay in the marriage due to familial obligations such as children and caring for elderly parents. 

For some couples, one party may willfully refuse to be intimate with their spouse or may be unable to do so. This could be cited by either spouse as a form of unreasonable behaviour causing divorce. 

Although certain behaviour can be deemed as both reasonable and unreasonable by various parties, the Court will usually consider the personality and character of the couple involved. Should your views and upbringing cause you to find a certain behaviour unreasonable, the Court may grant the divorce. 

In other cases, if a couple got married but were never intimate, a spouse can file for an annulment instead to annul the marriage and legally return to their single status. However, for an annulment to be eligible, your marriage will either have to be void or voidable.

There are many grounds on which a marriage is voidable, but in this case specifically, under section 106 of the Women’s Charter, your marriage shall be voidable only if the marriage has not been consummated owing to the incapacity of either party, or the wilful refusal of the defendant to consummate it.

divorce in Singapore

4. Harassment, abuse and violence

 

Whether it is physical harassment or verbal abuse, domestic violence has remained one of the top 5 reasons for divorce in Singapore for the past 10 years. Fortunately, domestic violence is regarded as unreasonable behaviour and can be used to prove that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. There are also many community resources available to help victims of domestic violence, such as the AWARE Helpline at 1800 777 5555, crisis shelters, and FSCs. 

 

Spouses in physically abusive situations might wish to file a report with the police and seek medical attention for their injuries. Medical reports and police reports are especially helpful when applying for a Personal Protection Order (PPO) at the Family Justice Courts or at Family Violence Specialist Centres (FVSC) to prevent abusers from harming the victims further. This is because abusers who are found to breach the PPO will receive a fine and may even face imprisonment in some cases.

 

In addition, spouses in such situations who wish to file for divorce are highly encouraged to seek the help of an experienced divorce or family lawyer and gather as much evidence as they can. An experienced divorce or family lawyer will be able to provide advice and guidance on how best to utilise such evidence.. 

 

Useful evidence would include:

  • Application for a PPO
  • Photographic evidence of injuries caused by physical abuse 
  • Medical reports of treatments of physical injuries 
  • Documentary evidence such as text messages, recorded phone calls, and emails 
  • Police reports
  • Witness testimonies (do take note that judges are unlikely to consider the testimonies of young children)  
 

The expertise of an experienced divorce lawyer is especially helpful for spouses in marriages with a significant power imbalance (either socially or financially) or when children are involved. They will work towards achieving a favourable outcome and advise on matters of divorce such as child custody and division of matrimonial assets.

 

Also Read: Family Violence And Your Legal Rights 

5. Living apart/separation

 

In their 2019 Statistics on Marriage And Divorce report, the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS) uncovered that ‘living apart or being separated’ was the top reason cited by male plaintiffs in filing for divorce. Separation for 3 years or more can be used as a fact to prove an irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The following are some typical reasons for separation in the first place. 

 

When financial problems, pent-up frustration and anger, a breakdown in communication, or a lack of intimacy becomes too much to handle in a marriage, some couples may decide that a temporary separation is necessary to help them work through their problems. This is because many of them believe that by removing themselves from the situation, each spouse may gain a fresh perspective on it, allowing them a chance of reconciliation. 

 

For others, separation is often a preparation for what life will be like after divorce i.e. learning how to manage separate households,  separate finances, and separate lives. In such cases, the couple or their family lawyer might choose to draw up a Deed of Separation, which is a legally binding document that outlines all the terms and conditions of the parties’ arrangement to live separately; this might also include terms on division of matrimonial assets and child/ren’s living arrangements. The Deed can be revoked at any time by mutual agreement between the spouses and does not need to be filed in Court. A Deed of Separation is also not binding in nature and will not be binding on the Court. While a Deed of Separation is not necessary for couples to separate, separating couples may find it useful. The Deed makes it easier to obtain a divorce on the grounds of separation with consent as the document is clear evidence that the couple has been living separately (once three years from the date the marriage has passed). 

 

Also Read: Separating Before A Divorce In Singapore: Do’s & Don’ts

Conclusion 

 

Most marriages have their challenges and require couples to work together to overcome them. However, divorce may be the most appropriate solution in some cases where the challenges in the marriage become insurmountable. Even where divorce is perceived to be inevitable, the parties involved may still feel emotional pain, strain and stress. As a result, consulting a good divorce lawyer is crucial as they can provide assurance and advice on how to ensure that the process of obtaining a divorce is as smooth as possible. 

Lie Chin Chin has a dedicated team of divorce and family lawyers to guide you through the divorce process in Singapore.

 

Contact us today to find out more

The Process of Adoption is Singapore

The Process of Adoption is Singapore

After ensuring that you are eligible to adopt a child in Singapore, you would be interested in finding out more about the whole adoption process and what are the next steps you will have to take in order to realise your wishes of welcoming a new member into your family. It is also important to be informed of the process of adoption so that you and your family can be suitably prepared mentally, emotionally and physically.

 

In Singapore, adoption is only possible through an Order of Court. Even if you have been the sole caregiver of a child (who is not your biological child) for his/her entire life thus far and he/she accepts you as his/her parent, you are not legally recognized as his/her parent. You will therefore have to go through the following process in order to legally adopt the child.

The Step-by-step Process of Adoption

 

1. Attendance at compulsory Pre-Adoption Briefing

 

You will first need to attend a compulsory pre-adoption briefing before you identify a child for adoption, before you apply for a home study report, and before you apply to Court for the adoption. The briefing lasts for around 2.5 hours and you will only need to attend it once.


2. Obtain and submit a completed and endorsed letter of support from your home country (for non-Singapore citizens wishing to adopt a non-Singaporean child)



You will need to submit a completed and endorsed letter of support as Singapore Adoption orders may not be automatically recognized in your country.


The letter of support can be found on the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (“MSF”) website:

 https://www.msf.gov.sg/Adoption/Pages/Who-can-Adopt.aspx


Do note that if you are a British National, you will not be able to adopt a child in Singapore. All other Nationals of the European Union are required to submit a completed and endorsed letter of support before adopting a child in Singapore (including a Singaporean child).


3. Application for Home Study Report



You will also need to apply for a home study report before you identify a child to adopt. The Home Study Report is an investigation that looks at the circumstances surrounding the adoption, your family and your eligibility and ability to adopt and care for a child.


4. Identify a Child to Adopt



You can adopt a child that you have found by yourself or through an adoption agency, or a child under State Care that you found through MSF. If you are finding a child to adopt on your own, you must ensure that adoption of this child is legal and that the transfer of the child to your care does not contravene the laws of any country. If you are adopting a foreign child, there are some additional things to note. These things are covered in one of our learning articles – Adopting a Foreign Child.


5. Obtain Consents and Dependent’s Pass



You must obtain the consents of various persons who are connected with or who play a substantial role in the upbringing of the child you wish to adopt. These persons are described in the learning article – Can I Adopt a Child in Singapore .


You will also need to apply for and obtain a Dependent’s Pass for the child if you wish to adopt a foreign child.


6. Obtain the Child’s Identification Documents



You will need the child’s original Birth Certificate and, if the child is a Permanent Resident, the child’s passport.


7. Make an Adoption Application to the Court



When you make an application to adopt a child, you will need to submit several documents including an originating summons for adoption, an affidavit to support this, as well as a summons for appointment of a guardian in adoption, who is a person tasked with safeguarding the child’s interests during the adoption process and who will investigate the circumstances of the child and the prospective adoptive parents.


8. MSF Interview and Home Vists


MSF will want to ensure that the child is being brought into a conducive and healthy family and home environment. They will assess this through interviews, medical checkups, home visit(s) etc., at the end of which a Child Welfare Officer will make an assessment on whether the adoption will be in the child’s best interests.


9. Adoption Hearing in Court


The Court will consider MSF’s recommendations and hear from any parties whom it thinks fit to call upon with regards to the adoption application before it decides on the outcome of the adoption application. You and/or your lawyer will also have to be present at the adoption hearing, if directed by the Court.


10. Outcome of Adoption Application


The Court will either grant an order in terms of your adoption application or dismiss it. If your adoption application is successful, a new Singapore birth certificate will be issued for the child and you can collect it from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority soon after the Adoption Order is extracted. If the adoption application is dismissed, you will have to return the child.


*Note that once the Court has made an adoption order, no one can apply further to the Court to make any change to the adoption order.


While you can submit an adoption application by yourself, it is important to ensure that all requirements, documents and procedures are properly handled, submitted and complied with on time so that the adoption is as smooth as possible. A qualified, experienced and reliable lawyer will be able to ensure this is so and will certainly provide you with a greater sense of assurance and peace of mind throughout the adoption process.

For Immediate Assistance

If you are facing a situation whereby you are in need of urgent legal advice, please do contact our Client Care Team to connect with one of our team’s representative.
Contact our Client Care Team at  +65 9852 5181

Can I Adopt a Child in Singapore?

Can I Adopt a Child in Singapore?

Welcoming a new member of the family is exciting and you may be anxious to know whether it is possible for you to adopt a child in Singapore. Naturally, you would want to be informed of the requirements for adoption in Singapore so that you can ensure that you are eligible to adopt a child. The following are the requirements to be able to adopt a child in Singapore.

1. You can only adopt a child

The person you want to adopt must be below 21 years old and who has never been married before.


2.You can only adopt a child who is a resident of Singapore


This means that the child must be a Singapore Citizen, a Permanent Resident or a Dependent’s Pass holder. However, if you wish to adopt a foreign child, you may find this learning article helpful – Adopting a Foreign Child.


3.You must be at least 25 years old or 21 years older than the child, and you cannot be more than 50 years older than the child


This age different requirement is the Court’s way of trying to ensure that the parent-child relationship is viable. However, the Court can decide to allow you to adopt the child even if you do not meet this requirement. This can happen if you and the child are related by blood, or if there are special circumstances which justify the adoption.


4.Generally, a sole male applicant cannot adopt a female child


The Court will allow an adoption in such a case in exceptional situations. One reason could be that the sole male applicant is the girl’s only living blood relative and they are closely related so the male applicant is trying to discharge his responsibilities to a young member of his extended family.


5. You must be resident in Singapore


This means that you must be a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident or a holder of a pass which the Family Court finds deems you a resident in Singapore.


6. If you are joint applicants, you and the other applicant must be spouses.


7. If you are married but are seeking to adopt the child in your sole name, you must get spousal consent to the adoption


Spousal consent is rarely waived by the Court. This is because raising an adopted child would probably be unsustainable without the cooperation of your spouse.


8. Adoption must serve the welfare of the


ThisCourt must be convinced that granting an order for adoption will be for the child’s welfare. The Court will consider the child’s wishes while keeping in mind the child’s age and understanding of the situation.


9. You must obtain the consent of all persons or bodies connected to the child


Before being able to adopt the child, you must gain the consent of all persons who are a parent, guardian, or who has actual custody over, or who is liable to contribute to the support of the child.



Basically, anyone who has a substantial role in the upbringing of the child must consent to the adoption as the adoption will permanently deprive him or her of any parental rights.


10. There musts not have been payment in connection with the adoption
Unauthorised payment of money in connection with the adoption can be found to be an offence. This kind of offence would likely be in relation to the trafficking of children. If money was indeed paid, the Court must be notified and must approve of the payment.


If the child you wish to adopt is a foreign child, there are additional issues you must take note of. This learning article provides the relevant information on adoption of a foreign child – Adopting a Foreign Child.


After ensuring that you meet the requirements for adoption in Singapore, you may want to be informed of and be prepared for the various stages of adoption. We have summarized an insider’s look at the process of adoption in this learning article – The Process of Adoption in Singapore.


Although you can submit an application for adoption by yourself, it is advisable to obtain the advice and support of an experienced and trustworthy lawyer to support and advise you throughout the adoption process so that the adoption will be as smooth-sailing as possible.

For Immediate Assistance

If you are facing a situation whereby you are in need of urgent legal advice, please do contact our Client Care Team to connect with one of our team’s representative.
Contact our Client Care Team at  +65 9852 5181

Adopting a Foreign Child

Adopting a Foreign Child

There are many adoption requirements and a detailed procedure to adopting a child in Singapore. However, if you intend to adopt a foreign child, there are some additional things to note. While you may submit an application for adoption by yourself, it is advisable to obtain the advice and support of an experienced and reliable lawyer to help you to navigate the paperwork and procedures involved in adopting a child so that the adoption will be as smooth-sailing as possible.

Whos is considered a foreign child?

 

A foreign child is a child who is not resident in Singapore. This means that the child is not a Singapore Citizen, a Permanent Resident in Singapore, or a holder of a Dependent’s Pass.

What do I have to do to adopt a foreign child?

 

You will still need to meet the r equirements to adopt a child in Singapore , and you also have to comply with the procedure for adoption in Singapore. This article only provides the additional items and issues you must note if the child you wish to adopt is a foreign child.

 

Consents required must be notarized

The consents you need to obtain from the relevant persons must be notarized if they are overseas.

 

 

1. Apply for a Dependent’s Pass

 

If you wish to adopt a foreign child, you will have to apply for a Dependent’s pass for that child. The Dependent’s Pass will ensure that the child is considered a resident of Singapore and will also allow the child to enter and stay in Singapore until the adoption is completed.

 

When you apply for a Dependent’s Pass, you will need to submit a security deposit which costs approximately $1,000 to $2,000, as well as a favourable home study report. After the Court’s decision on your adoption application, the deposit will be refunded when you submit the child’s new Singapore Birth Certificate or, if your application is denied, when you return the Dependent’s pass to MSF.

Source: https://www.msf.gov.sg/Adoption/Pages/How-to-adopt-a-foreign-child-excluding-children-from-the-Peopl…

*Special note on adopting a child from The People’s Republic of China(PRC)

 

PRC has set out additional requirements for adoption of children from PRC. The adoption process for the adoption of a child from PRC will be longer than the typical adoption process as the PRC authorities must give their approval and the adoption will have to be legalized in PRC while you are present in PRC.

 

1. PRC children who are eligible to be adopted by you

 

The PRC child must be related to you, this relation can include the child being your stepchild, or the child must be from a social welfare institution in PRC.

 

2. Eligibility requirements for adopting a PRC child set by the China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption

 
There is an extra set of criteria you will have to meet if you wish to adopt a child from PRC. These criteria can be found here: https://www.msf.gov.sg/Adoption/Pages/Criteria-for-adoption-of-a-PRC-child.aspx


3.Making of adoption applications through accredited agencies
You must make the application to adopt the child through TOUCH Family Services Ltd or Fei Yue Community Services.


4.Application for Home Study

 

As with adoption of non-PRC children, you will need to apply for a Home Study to assess how suitable and ready you and your family are for the adoption.


5.Application to China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption


After the Home Study, the accredited agency will submit the adoption application, the Home Study Report and other relevant documents to the China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption. You must then pay certain costs that the China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption charges.


Bringing the child back to Singapore after successful application


You will need to be present in PRC with the child to legalise the adoption. After legalizing the adoption, you will have to make an application for a Dependent’s Pass for the child if he/she is not a Permanent Resident of Singapore.


7.Submission of Post Placement Reports to China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption


The Post Placement Report will be prepared and submitted by the accredited agency. If you adopted a child related to you, you will have to undergo at least one assessment by the agency within 3 years of the registration of the adoption. If you adopted the child from a social welfare organization, there will be 6 reports submitted from the sixth month to the fifth year after the adoption.

Source: https://www.msf.gov.sg/Adoption/Pages/How-to-adopt-a-child-from-the-Peoples-Republic-of-China.aspx
Adopting a child is a great responsibility and many procedures must be complied with. Engaging a competent and experienced lawyer will help you to keep up with and comply with the procedures and requirements for adoption. This will give you greater peace of mind and reduce the amount of stress you will have to undergo.

For Immediate Assistance

If you are facing a situation whereby you are in need of urgent legal advice, please do contact our Client Care Team to connect with one of our team’s representative.
Contact our Client Care Team at  +65 9852 5181