Can you divorce in Singapore? Getting a divorce is never an easy decision to make.
DIVORCE REQUIREMENTS – CAN YOU DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE?
Getting a divorce is never an easy decision to make. Along with the emotional burden and practical difficulties come the legal complexities of the divorce process.
It is important to know that the sanctity of marriage and the importance of one’s vows are not taken lightly by the Court. As such, a divorce cannot be obtained without valid grounds.
Grounds for Divorce
If you have been married for less than 3 years, you will require the Court’s permission to file for a divorce. To obtain permission, you have to show that you have suffered “exceptional hardship” or “exceptional depravity”. This is a high threshold to meet and one that is difficult to prove.
If you have been married for more than 3, there is only one ground for divorce. According to Section 95 of the Women’s Charter (Chapter 353) (“Women’s Charter”), the sole ground for divorce would be the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage.
Section 95(3) of the Women’s Charter states the 5 ways to show that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage:
Adultery was committed, and the wronged spouse finds it intolerable to live with his/her spouse;
Unreasonable behaviour to such an extent that the troubled spouse can no longer reasonably be expected to live with his/her spouse;
Desertion for a continuous period of at least 2 years;
Separation for a continuous period of at least 3 years and both parties consent to the divorce; and
Separation for a continuous period of at least 4 years.
Eligibility to Apply
Further to having valid grounds for divorce, to apply for a divorce in the Family Justice Courts of Singapore, at least one party must be a Singapore Citizen, or have lived in Singapore for at least 3 years before the application, or domiciled in Singapore (i.e. a question of fact determined through the balance of probability between actual residence in Singapore and the party(s)’s intention for their permanent or indefinite residence).