Divorce can be a taboo subject in Asia, where it is deemed to be “shameful” when a couple files for divorce. However, in today’s open society, a divorce is yet another parcel of life which some of us have to go through. There is nothing shameful in that. Nonetheless, it can be tough to find answers to your questions about divorce because most people still subscribe to the taboo belief.
We speak with practising divorce lawyer, Ms Beverly Lim from Gloria James-Civetta & Co, a leading law firm in Singapore, to find out more about the divorce proceeding and hiring a top divorce lawyer.
We ask the following questions to gain an understanding of the 12 important things about divorce in Singapore.
1. How can you get a divorce in Singapore?
In order to get a divorce, you will need to file a Writ for divorce, together with other supporting court documents, such as a Statement of Claim, a Statement of Particulars, Parenting Plan (if there is a child below 21 years old), a Matrimonial Property Plan (if the matrimonial property is a HDB flat). Only a Singapore divorce lawyer can assist you in the drafting and filing of the court documents.
2. What are some of the grounds for divorce that you can use in Singapore?
There is only one ground for divorce in Singapore – that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. To prove that, you can rely on 5 facts, namely: –
- Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living with him/her;
- Your spouse had behaved in such a manner that you cannot reasonably be expected to continue living with him/her;
- Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 2 years;
- Both parties have lived separately for a continuous period of at least 3 years and your spouse consents to the divorce; or
- Both parties have lived separately for a continuous period of at least 4 years.
A good divorce lawyer will be able to advice you on the suitable fact that you should rely on when filing for divorce. She will also assess your situation to ascertain that you meet the necessary criteria.
3. How can you ensure the best possible outcome for your divorce?
If you are acting in person, that is, representing yourself, you should have sufficient knowledge of family law and the court procedures. If you decide to hire a Singapore divorce lawyer, you should be truthful to her and cooperate with her when she ask for certain information or documents to be furnished.
A top divorce lawyer can assist you in all your divorce matters. She keeps you abreast with the law, updates you of your case and advise you of your rights so as to put you in a good position.
4. How do you find an experienced divorce lawyer in Singapore?
A good divorce lawyer handles both simplified and complex matrimonial matters. At Gloria James-Civetta & Co, every lawyer deals regularly with marriages registered in Singapore and abroad. They help their clients through the tough times and provide practical advice to assist them in making the right decisions.
5. What are some of the documents that you need to provide?
Depending on the stage of divorce that you are in, the court will require different types of documents. Some documents are formal court forms while other documents are useful as documentary evidence.
6. How can I get protection from abuse during the divorce proceedings?
If you have been physically assaulted by your spouse (regardless whether during the marriage or the divorce proceeding), you may file for a Personal Protection Order (PPO) against him/her. If you are facing imminent danger, you may file for an Expedited Order (EO) which will last for 28 days. If the court were to grant the PPO or EO against your spouse, and your spouse were to breach the said PPO/EO, he/she will be liable for a criminal offence. You must tell your divorce lawyer about the abuse so that she can advise and help you to file the application and prepare for the PPO trial.
7. Can you demand that your spouse move out of the matrimonial home during the divorce proceeding?
You cannot demand for him or her to move out of the matrimonial home, but if your spouse has committed domestic violence against you, you can apply for a Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO). You can apply this at the same time when you apply for a PPO. Again, it is crucial that you inform your lawyer about the domestic violence committed against you.
8. Can your child and you move out of the home during the divorce proceeding if you are facing abuse?
You may move out of the matrimonial house if you are facing abuse. However, if you bring the children with you and take them out of the matrimonial home, your spouse may file an application for interim custody, care and control of the children.
If you face abuse in your marriage, the best divorce lawyer to hire is one who is experienced in handling complex cases so that she can advise you on your rights based on your situation and point the best way forward.
9. How can you prove that your spouse is abusing you emotionally?
Emotional abuse is difficult to prove and will require professional medical reports.
10. Can you keep your children out of the divorce proceeding?
If your children are below 21 years old, the court will have to decide on two main issues: (1) custody, care and control, and (2) maintenance of the children. If you and your spouse have reached a consensus on these issues, there will be minimal involvement of your children in the actual divorce proceedings.
Nonetheless, if these issues are being contested, the court may order for your children to be interviewed, or for a Child Representative to be appointed. Ultimately, the court will decide based on what is in the children’s best interest.
11. If you and your spouse are mutually agreeable to a divorce, do you need to go to court for the divorce proceeding?
If both parties have agreed on both stages of the divorce, you may wish to file for the divorce under the simplified track. Attendance in court will be dispensed. A divorce lawyer in Singapore can represent you in filing for a simplified divorce to save significant time and cost.
12. How can you make your divorce private?
Once the divorce papers are filed, they will be deemed as public documents. Nonetheless, people who are not privy to your divorce will not be able to access your documents, unless you, your spouse, or any related persons provide them with the same.
Parties involved in the divorce are not bound by confidentiality unless a gag order has been put in place.
We hope that these answers help you to better understand the divorce proceeding in Singapore. If you are facing a divorce or contemplating one, reach out to the top divorce lawyers at Gloria James-Civetta & Co for a free 20-minutes consultation.