Guides & References
Legal & Filing for Divorce
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:
- You must be married for three years;
- 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;
- You must show the Courts that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by proving one of the grounds of divorce;
- 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:
Your spouse has committed adultery with another person and you find it intolerable to live with him/her.
- Unreasonable behaviour
Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her.
- Desertion (abandonment)
Your spouse has deserted or left you for a continuous period of two years without any intention of returning.
- 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.
- 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:
- the financial challenges of divorce
- how divorce impacts living arrangements
- child custody and access
- 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?