If you are considering divorce or going through the process, you are probably dealing with a range of emotions, including fear, uncertainty, anxiety, or anger. However, it is important to focus on the practical side and stay prepared for what lies ahead.
The best way to ensure an optimal outcome is to have an open discussion with your divorce lawyer. Giving your divorce lawyer the full picture of your situation, needs, and expectations will help them prepare a plan to protect your interests.
Here are the most important topics you should discuss with your divorce lawyer as early as possible on the divorce process:
Four important topics to discuss with your Singapore divorce lawyer
Dividing matrimonial assets is often one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. Matrimonial assets include all assets acquired during the marriage by you and/or your spouse.
Assets acquired by either party before the marriage which have been substantially improved during the marriage also count as matrimonial assets.
Your assets can range from the marital home, jewellery, paintings, business holdings, HDB flat, cars to household furnishings.
Dividing these assets may not always be a straightforward process, particularly when there are multiple properties or high-value assets involved or when the ownership is not clear.
Your Singapore divorce lawyer can explain what assets count as matrimonial assets and the factors the court will consider when dividing them.
This will help you know what to expect in terms of your financial situation post-divorce and plan your budget.
Custody concerns the long-term decision-making for the children’s welfare. Care and control concerns day-to-day decision making (i.e short term decision-making for the children’s welfare).
Courts typically grant joint custody to both parents in Singapore while only one parent is granted care and control of children.
In exceptional cases, sole custody is granted to either the mother or the father, depending on the facts of the matter.
The other types of child custody orders include ‘split order.’ Split custody means that one parent gets custody of one or more siblings while the other parent is the custodian of the other sibling/siblings.
When granting care and control to one parent, the Court takes into account multiple factors, including-
- the child’s age and wishes,
- the present living arrangement,
- the financial situation of the parent, and
- who the primary caregiver is.
The Courts are guided by what is in the best interests of the child when granting custody and care and control.
Discussing the topic with your divorce lawyer will help you understand the different possible child custody arrangements, visitation schedule, and whether split custody are options you are willing to consider.
Children below the age of 21 years are eligible for maintenance, while under exceptional circumstances such as disability, the child maintenance can get extended beyond 21 years.
While there is no fixed formula for calculating the maintenance amount, the court ensures the amount covers the child’s education, medical, and other essential costs.
Courts look into many factors, such as the financial situation of parents and the standard of living the child is accustomed to, before determining a reasonable maintenance amount.
Your Singapore divorce lawyer will explain the documents you will need, such as bills, bank statements, proof of employment, and debts for the mediation or for the court hearing.
The divorce lawyer will assess your case and advise on all aspects while also professionally drafting the relevant affidavit and other documents.
The Women’s Charter lays down the rules related to spousal maintenance. While typically the wife receives maintenance, the Singaporean Parliament has made changes to the law to enable husbands to file maintenance claims.
A husband who is disabled, incapacitated, or is not able to support himself can file for spousal maintenance.
As with child support, there is no formula for deciding the quantum of reasonable spousal maintenance.
A lump sum or monthly payment can be awarded by the Court based on all the circumstances of the case including:
- income of the spouses
- Duration of marriage
- Age of the couple
- Property owned
- earning ability
- financial needs that existed during the marriage and the expected needs in the future
- standard of living
- mental or physical disability
- contributions made by each party
Discuss your career goals, current and future financial needs with your divorce lawyer so that they can guide you on the quantum of maintenance you can expect.
If you are required to pay spousal maintenance, talking to your lawyer will help you understand how this will impact your financial situation.