If you are legally represented, your lawyer is required to attend most of the court hearings and your attendance is only required if there is a trial or if you are required to attend mediation.
Divorce Procedure in Singapore
Date: 1 January 2021
A divorce trial is extremely rare in Singapore. Most divorce cases are settled before they reach trial. Most of the hearings are held in chambers which are closed to the public. If you are legally represented, your lawyer is required to attend most of the court hearings and your attendance is only required if there is a trial or if you are required to attend mediation.
A Status Conference is your lawyer’s first court date, and it is conducted by an Assistant Registrar (“AR”) in chambers, accessible only to parties directly involved in the matter. At this stage, the AR will check that all necessary documents have been filed in Court.
In the event when the Defendant is contesting the divorce, the case may be referred for counselling with a professional Court counsellor, or for a Family Dispute Resolution Conference where the court will give a case conference date after the matter has been set down for trial. The purpose of a case conference is to get both parties ready for the contested divorce hearing, which will take the form of trial in open court. In the event where settlement is possible, the AR may refer the case for counselling with a processional court counsellor.
A contested divorce is very different from an uncontested divorce as a contested divorce is more time-consuming and costly as compared to uncontested divorce as the whole process may range from one day to several days depending on the number of witnesses and the complexity of the case.
An Ancillary Matters Case Conference is usually called within a month from the granting of the Interim Judgment, and the court will send a letter to notify you of the Ancillary Matters Case Conference date.
An AR conduct an Ancillary Matters Case Conference in chambers and parties’ lawyers will attend the Case Conference on behalf of their clients. The purpose of an Ancillary Matters Case Conference is to prepare parties for the ancillary matters hearing before a District Judge. Where children are involved, the AR may consider referring the matter to a Court counsellor or social worker for a confidential report on custody or access may be prepared.
In the event where parties can reach an agreement on the ancillary matters, the Court will give directions for a consent ancillary matters hearing to be fixed, and parties’ lawyer will prepare a Draft Consent Order for the settlement.
In the event where settlement is not possible, the AR will then direct parties to file their Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief.
At the end of the divorce hearing, an Interim Judgment, a provisional order for divorce, will be granted by the court and any ancillary matters will be adjourned to be heard in chambers. The Final Judgment will be made only after the ancillary matters have been concluded.
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