Divorce FAQs from a divorce lawyer in Singapore.

When can i file for divorce in Singapore?

You can file for divorce in Singapore after 3 years of marriage.

In all other circumstances, you would have to seek leave of Court to commence divorce proceedings. You would have to prove exceptional depravity or satisfy the Court that you have experienced exceptional hardship. If these threshold requirement are not met, you would have to wait out the 3 years before filing for divorce.

I am a Singapore PR. Can I file for divorce in Singapore?

The Singapore Courts have jurisdiction  to grant a divorce on either party's domicile or habitual residence of 3 years.

If you are a Singapore PR, you have to nonetheless prove that you are domiciled in Singapore. It is advisable to file for divorce in Singapore if you have been habitually resident in Singapore for at least 3 years prior to filing for divorce.

What are the common grounds for divorce in Singapore?

In Singapore there is only 1 ground for divorce i.e. irretrievable breakdown of marriage. However, you may choose to rely on 1 of the following 5 facts for divorce:

1) Unreasonable behaviour of your spouse 2) Adultery of your spouse 3) 3 years separation with Consent of your spouse 4) 4 years separation 5) Desertion of 2 years by your spouse.

How long do i have to wait before i can get remarried after i am divorced in Singapore?

In Singapore there are 2 stages for the divorce. The first stage deals with the grounds for divorce and culminates in the Interim Judgment.

The 2nd stage deals with the Ancillary Matters such as maintenance for wife and children, custody, care and control of children, and division of matrimonial assets, and culminates in Final Judgment, which can be only obtained 3 months after Interim Judgment is given.

You can only remarry after Final Judgment is obtained.

What are some of the requirements for me to apply for and HDB flat after a divorce?

Subject to prevailing HDB rules, you have to have care and control of the children in order to apply for an HDB flat as a divorcee.

Alternatively, if you are above the age of 35 years old, you can apply for an HDB flat as a Single Singapore citizen.

What happens to my CPF monies utilised towards the matrimonial home upon divorce ?

CPF usually requires the CPF monies utilised towards the matrimonial flat to be refunded from the net sale proceeds of the matrimonial home to both parties' CPF account before they are able to obtain the cash proceeds of sale.

Partial refund of CPF monies is possible if the Court Order provides for it and there are insufficient sale proceeds to make the necessary refunds to either party's CPF account.

Divorce FAQs

Do i need to appear in Court when filing for divorce?

In Singapore, divorces can be categorized into contested divorces or uncontested divorces.

In an uncontested divorce where the grounds for divorce is agreed upon, you do not have to appear in Court as Interim Judgment is granted in an administrative hearing in Chambers.

In a contested divorce, you would have to file affidavit(s)and give evidence in a trial to establish that grounds for divorce. In such circumstances, you would have to appear in Court.

It is also mandatory for parents with children below 21 years old to attend Child Focused Resolution Conferences and Counselling at the Family Justice Courts.

What are some of the the steps to take prior to filing for divorce?

If you have children, you are required to attend the Mandatory Parenting Programme ("MPP").

Please book an MPP counselling session with the MSF at this website: https://www.msf.gov.sg/divorce-support/pages/mandatory-parenting-programme.aspx

It may take about 1 month to obtain an appointment and therefore, you should book your appointment early.

The MPP is conducted by Family Service Centres assigned by the MSF.

We will also conduct an HDB Standard query if you are the owner of an HDB flat before filing for divorce.

Is there a principle of equal division of matrimonial assets in Singapore?

No, there is no principle in Singapore law which states that matrimonial asset are to be divided equally between parties.

The Courts consider the direct and indirect contributions of the parties based and award a certain weightage to the direct and indirect contributions before averaging the percentages and attributing to the parties their contribution towards the marriage based on the recent case law i.e the approach taken in  ANJ v ANK (2015) SGCA 34.

Does the Women's Charter (CAP 353) "favour" the Wife?


However, it is generally held that young children should be with their mothers and therefore care and control of young children is often awarded to the mother.

As to maintenance for wife, this is awarded on a case by case basis i.e. the length of the marriage, whether the wife is working and requires maintenance from her husband for her reasonable needs.

What is $1 nominal maintenance for Wife all about?

It is to preserve the Wife's right to maintenance in the event she experiences incapacitation in future.

Nominal maintenance of $1 is not awarded to wives as a matter of course but there must be good reasons given for asking for $1 maintenance.

Is my adult child entitled to maintenance?

Yes, if your adult child is above the age of 21 years old but is still receiving higher education or vocational training and has not started working, your adult child is entitled to continue receiving maintenance from the parent.

In Singapore, the position at law is that both parents are jointly responsible for maintaining children.

Information written by Ms Grace Tan, divorce lawyer in Singapore

Child Custody & Maintenance FAQs

Do the Courts always grant care and control of children to their mothers?

In Singapore, the Courts hold the view that   it is in the best interests of children of a tender age to be with their mothers.

However, the Courts also consider other factors such as which parent is the primary care giver of the children during the marriage.

If the mother neglects her young children and relegates the care and control of the young children to the father, then it would be more appropriate for the father to have care and control of the children.

What is the difference between the concepts custody and care and control?

Custody relates to the decision making power in relation to a child's educational, medical and other major decisions. 

If the Courts grant parents joint custody, it means that the parent with care and control of the children must inform and consult the other parent in relation to major decisions regarding the children.

Care and control relates to who the children actually live with after the divorce. If the Court grants one parent care and control of the children, the other parent is usually entitled to access to the children. In Singapore, the usual orders are for the other parent to have reasonable access to the children.

Am i able to obtain shared or split care and control of the children?

The definition of shared care and control means that the children would spend roughly an equal amount of time with each parent.

The definition of split care and control means that the different children live separately with each parent i.e. the children are split up.

In Singapore, the Courts do not usually make an order for shared care and control or split care and control unless parties agree to it, i.e. it is obtained by Consent.

The Courts take the view that split care and control is not in the best interests of children as siblings will be growing up separately. 

I do not wish to pay maintenance for my children. Do i have an obligation under the law to do so?

Yes. You do have an obligation under the law to provide for your children.

Providing maintenance for children is a joint parental responsibility, and whilst the Courts do look at the income and earning capacity of the parents when making an order for children's maintenance, it is usually held that children's maintenance is to be borne and shared equally between the parties.

What are some of the factors the Courts will look at in ordering maintenance for the children?

Pursuant to Section 69(4) of the Women's Charter (CAP 353), the Courts will look at the needs of the children i.e. the reasonable needs of the children in making an order for maintenance.

The Courts will also consider the standard of living of the parties and children during the marriage and the way in which the children are expected to be brought up and educated.

Do note that documentary proof of income and expenses of the wife and children is usually needed in order for the Courts to make and order for maintenance for the children i.e. receipts of expenditure.

My adult child is already 21 years old but still studying. Is my child entitled to maintenance?

Yes, pursuant to Section 69(3)(b) the child is supposed to apply for maintenance for himself if he is already 21 years old and still studying i.e. pursuing higher education or vocational training.

Personal Protection Order/ Family Violence FAQs

What is a Personal Protection Order?

If you are fearful for your safety because your spouse has inflicted or threatened to inflict violence on you, you should first lodge a police report, obtain the necessary medical reports, before applying for a Personal Protection Order ("PPO").

A PPO is a Court Order which, when breached is a criminal offence.

How do i apply for a PPO?

You would have to affirm your complaint at the Family Justice Courts. You may or may not be accompanied by a lawyer.

What is the process of a PPO like?

You would usually be given a mention date and in most cases, parties would be referred for mediation cum counselling in court to decide whether they seriously wish to proceed with the PPO.

Thereafter, there will be a need to file affidavits and you would need to give evidence of the offending spouse's violence at a trial of the matter.

Do i have to pay the other party's costs if apply for a PPO and do not succeed?

Yes, in most cases, costs would follow the event and you would need to pay for the other party's costs if you do not succeed in applying for a PPO.

This is to prevent applicants from going to Court with vexatious claims.

What is the difference between a Personal Protection Order and a Child Protection Order?

If you wish to apply for a Child Protection Order, you should inform the MSF of your potential complaint about the abuse or neglect of a child.

The MSF will investigate the complaint.

An application for a PPO would be with the Family Justice Courts and culminate in a trial of the matter where a Family Court Judge would decide whether or not to grant a Personal Protection Order for the child in question.

What evidence is needed to prove Family Violence?

It would be good to have video recordings of the violence and photographs of the violence inflicted on you and/or your children.

If necessary, please do obtain medical reports of the injuries sustained by yourself and/or your children.