Lie Chin Chin

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.