When you’re unhappy in your marriage, it’s reasonable to begin seriously considering whether you should divorce. Maybe divorce right for you, or maybe it isn’t, but before making any drastic steps or statements, it’s a smart idea to have a good idea of the options for ending your marriage in Singapore.
Divorce is the most common way to end a marriage in Singapore. You are eligible for divorce in Singapore if you can meet these three conditions:
- You have been married for at least three yearsIn the vast majority of cases, you must be married for three years before divorcing. However, in exceptional circumstances, a court will waive this requirement if you can demonstrate that you have suffered “exceptional hardship” in the marriage. Courts find exceptional hardship where you prove that your spouse has been abusive or cruel.
- You or your spouse are domiciled in SingaporeTo be eligible for divorce, one party to the marriage must be domiciled in Singapore at the start of the divorce proceeding. In general, “domiciled” means that you have made or intend to make Singapore your permanent home. Singapore citizens are usually presumed to be domiciled in Singapore.
If neither party is domiciled in Singapore, divorce may nonetheless be an option if you can show that one party has “habitually resided” in Singapore for the three years prior to the start of the divorce proceeding. Habitual residence means that you have continuously lived in the country for the three-year-period, excepting vacations and work trips.
- There has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.Irretrievable marital breakdown is the sole ground for divorce in Singapore. You can demonstrate that the marriage has broken down by showing evidence of:
You may be entitled to annul your marriage instead of divorcing. Annulment is a legal procedure that cancels a marriage, making it as if the marriage never legally existed.
In Singapore, you can petition for an annulment on the grounds that the marriage was void or voidable. Marriages that are void include those where:
- one party is already married
- one party is under age 18 and has no special dispensation
- the parties are closely related
- the marriage was not properly solemnized, including where the parties are Muslim, and the marriage was solemnized under civil law.
Voidable Marriages include those where:
- the parties did not consummate the marriage, whether due to incapacity of one party or because of a willful refusal.
- one of the parties did not (or could not) give their consent
- the wife was pregnant with the child of another man at the moment of the marriage.