Preparing For A Simplified Uncontested Divorce in Singapore
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
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.