Lie Chin Chin

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

 

‚ÄėDomicile‚Äô 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.

 

‚ÄėHabitual residence‚Äô 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‚Äôre 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 ‚Äď Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

Unreasonable Behaviour ‚Äď Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage ‚Äď 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