Guides & References

Before Divorce

Getting a divorce can be complicated, emotional, stressful and sometimes confusing.

For couples with children, the dissolution of marriage does not only impact two lives but also the lives of their children — physically and emotionally. Whether the marriage dissolution is by choice or circumstance, the decision to proceed with a divorce is a major one which would affect various aspects of your life including housing, matrimonial assets and children.

Here are some of the guides and information you may take note of if you are thinking of or going through a divorce or separation.

Before Divorce

One may ask, “Why do people divorce?”.

While reasons are varying and personal, the common reasons would be growing apart (as interests and goals change, communication is lost), arguments (over money, sex, in-laws, etc), alcohol, drug abuse or gambling, physical abuse and adultery.

If you are beginning to consider or are contemplating divorce, you may want to find out and learn more about what is involved, what the laws are, how it will affect your family, or how to get started.

We believe the more informed you are about divorce, the better you will be able to cope with the changes it can bring.

Financial considerations

Typically, parties to a divorce are impacted financially in two primary ways: the division of their matrimonial assets and the order for spouse/child maintenance payments that the Courts may make.  You may want to read articles on Financial Realities of Divorce to find out more about your rights and options when considering or go through divorce.                                               

Listed below are some of the key financial issues that you should think about before and during your divorce (Source: MSF).

Key Financial Issues

Decisions to Consider


 · Remain in the matrimonial home

 · Buy / rent a new home

 · Stay with relatives

 See: Managing Finances After Divorce
         Housing Development Board

Legal Fees

 · Settle outstanding legal fees

 · Seek alternative resolution such as mediation

 See: Legal Aid

Regular Maintenance Fees

 Turn to third party collection assistance

Basic Expenses to Meet Needs*

 Budgeting for monthly expenses

Needs of Children*

 Expenses related to children’s basic needs, education and medical needs

Medical Fees

 Use of:

 · Medisave

 · MediShield Life and other healthcare insurance

 · ElderShield and other disability insurance

 Eligibility for:

 · Medifund

 · Out-of-pocket expenses

 See: Government Agencies

Short-term Financial Planning

 For those with debt

 · Settle joint accounts, nominations, asset ownership

 · CPF payments for housing, MediShield Life premiums, education

 · Existing or new insurance coverage for life, medical and hospitalisation needs

Long-term Financial Planning

 · Plan to purchase new home

 · New insurance needs such as children’s education

 · Higher education or skills training for children

 · Remarriage and blended families (or stepfamilies)

Contribution to Other Dependents

 · Out-of-pocket expenses

 · Medisave

 · Child Development Account (CDA) top-ups

Seeking Employment and Career Paths

 · Employed

 · Unemployed

 · Self-employed

* Basic needs:

  • Food
  • Household expenses
  • Transport
  • Medical expenses
  • Utility bills
  • Educational needs of children

Getting a Divorce  

Based on the booklet “Know the Law Now” published by the Law Society of Singapore (2015 revised edition), there are several requirements which you will have to meet before the Family Justices Courts will grant a divorce:

  1. You must be married for three years;
  2. Either you or your spouse must have been residing in Singapore continuously for a period of three years at the time the petition is filed;
  3. You must show the Courts that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by proving one of the grounds of divorce;
  4. Your marriage must be recognised as valid under Singapore law.

If you are married for less than three years, you may, with permission from the Courts, proceed to file a Writ for Divorce if you can prove that you have suffered exceptional hardship or if your spouse has been exceptionally unreasonable and cruel. You are advised to consult a lawyer.

For more details on divorce proceedings filed with the Family Justice Courts, click here.

Grounds for Divorce of Civil Marriages

What is considered as “irretrievable breakdown” by the Family Justice Courts?

The applicant/plaintiff (the person filing for a divorce) must provide details and prove one or more of the following factual basis:

  1. Adultery
    Your spouse has committed adultery with another person and you find it intolerable to live with him/her.
  1. Unreasonable behaviour
    Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her.
  1. Desertion (abandonment)
    Your spouse has deserted or left you for a continuous period of two years without any intention of returning.
  1. Separation for three years (mutual consent required)
    Your spouse and you have lived apart for a continuous period of at least three years and your spouse agrees to a divorce.
  1. Separation for four years (mutual consent not required)
    Your spouse and you have lived apart for a continuous period of at least four years. No consent is required from the defendant (i.e. your spouse).

Before You File for Divorce of Civil Marriage

Here’s a reminder of the two questions posted by the Family Justice Courts:

1. Have you attended the Mandatory Parenting Programme?

From 1 December 2016, all parents with at least one child below 14 years old (below 21 years old with effect from 21 January 2018) are required under the Women’s Charter to attend the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP) if they do not have a signed formal agreement pertaining to a parenting plan and all other divorce matters. You will need to log in with your SingPass to apply for the MPP.

The MPP is a two-hour session free of charge by counsellors from Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) to be attended by parents intending to file for divorce with the Family Justice Courts. It is designed to encourage divorcing couples make informed decisions that prioritise the well-being of children, and to help parents understand:

  1. the financial challenges of divorce
  2. how divorce impacts living arrangements
  3. child custody and access
  4. the importance of co-parenting and having a parenting plan

For FAQ relating to MPP, click here.

2. Do you need more information on what to expect when you embark on divorce proceedings?

Be sure to find out what to expect when you embark on divorce proceedings.  You should visit this page and watch the Divorce Information Video before filing your divorce application..

Click FAQs on divorce and type “divorce” under search function, you will be able to find answers to the following questions:

  • What is a divorce?
  • Who can apply for a divorce in the Family Justice Courts?
  • What are the legal requirements for a divorce?
  • How do I apply for a divorce?
  • What if I can’t find my spouse?
  • Can I oppose a Writ for Divorce filed by my spouse?
  • Is there a way for my spouse and I to come to an agreement so that we can avoid a contested divorce?
  • Do I need a lawyer to get divorced?
  • When can I remarry?
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