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Myth-buster 7 Myths About Singapore Divorce Law Debunked!

Myth-buster: 7 Myths About Singapore Divorce Law Debunked!

Divorce can be a daunting process, and you can only do so much research before you get cold feet or false information swirling on the Internet. 

If you’ve had a friend or family member go through a divorce, you’ve probably heard a lot of interesting things they’ve said about the process. 

But, even with such information, there are still myths surrounding Singapore divorce law that might sound true unless you probe deeper. Lucky for you, we’ve debunked most myths about Singapore divorce law to aid you in your research.

Myth #1: The mother gets primary custody of the children

Myth #1 The mother gets primary custody of the children

It’s easy to assume that mothers get sole custody of their children following a divorce because societal norms dictate that women are better caregivers and that mothers are historically favoured in family or divorce law. 

However, the truth is that custody decisions are heavily dependent on the child’s relationship with either parent and their best interest. 

Divorced couples who show equal cooperation and responsibility over their children are likely to be granted joint custody of their children. 

On the other hand, if the Court deems the mother incapable of providing care and protection for the child, then custody will likely be given to the father. 

Myth #2: Gender plays a significant role in court decisions

Myth #2 Gender plays a significant role in court decisions

Although gender bias in the legal system is highly debated, divorce court proceedings don’t adhere to gender stereotypes. 

The gender of lawyers and judges doesn’t, in any way, influence the outcome of a divorce case, which, in turn, makes focusing on the best interest of each individual (and their children, if any) more evident and prioritised. 

Good lawyers work to give you the best possible outcome from a divorce, whether contested or uncontested. They’re in charge of presenting the best arguments and negotiations to the Court, regardless of gender. 

The Court decides based on the arguments and evidence your lawyer presents you with, and the verdict will have nothing to do with gender. 

Myth #3: The divorced couple’s assets will be divided 50/50

Myth #3 The divorced couple’s assets will be divided 5050

If you’re hoping that your matrimonial assets will be split evenly between you and your spouse, you might want to read Section 112 of the Women’s Charter Singapore for clarity. 

The division of matrimonial assets acquired before and during the marriage is decided by the Court, based on the direct and indirect financial contributions of both parties. 

The needs of their children, past agreements, debts, and any sort of support given are other factors that the Court weighs on during the division of matrimonial assets. 

The Court can also call on the selling and vesting of assets as well as ordering a spouse to provide financial assistance to the other. Thus, not all couples get 50/50 on assets. 

Myth #4: A divorce case is always messy

Myth #4 A divorce case is always messy

Getting a divorce is never easy, even if both spouses separate amicably or have fair and valid reasons for separation. However, they’re not always “messy” and entail a series of serious litigation and courtroom drama. 

Divorce lawyers will represent their clients as best as they can, and that includes protecting their dignity during court proceedings. Sometimes, divorce cases don’t even reach the Court and are resolved quietly, especially when cases are uncontested. 

Contested divorces may lead divorce lawyers to probe and defend their clients to the best of their ability, but they don’t always end up in a courtroom battle. 

Myth #5: A divorce can be filed anytime

Myth #5 A divorce can be filed anytime

According to Singapore divorce law, couples cannot file for divorce if they’ve been married for less than three years. Exceptions are made if permission was obtained under special circumstances, such as desertion or unreasonable behaviour. 

In addition to the eligibility requirements, spouses must understand that divorce is seen as a last resort option after all means of solving issues are rendered ineffective. 

Couples are likely to receive marriage counselling and support programmes first before divorce even comes into the picture. Thus, you can’t simply file for divorce anytime after you’ve experienced marital issues or dissatisfaction with your marriage. 

Moreover, couples who got married under Muslim law must file for a divorce in the Syariah law court. 

Myth #6: A divorce is immediately granted if you and your spouse have been separated for years

Myth #6 A divorce is immediately granted if you and your spouse have been separated for years

In Singapore divorce law, spouses don’t get granted an immediate divorce just because they’ve been separated for some years. 

Yes, separation of at least three years is a valid ground for divorce, but until this is proven to the Court, a divorce won’t be granted immediately. 

Additionally, the separation must be consensual for it to be considered valid. If a party is separated from their spouse against their wishes, then the eligibility is voided. 

Myth #7: You get better chances of a good settlement if your spouse committed adultery

Myth #7 You get better chances of a good settlement if your spouse committed adultery

In Singapore, adultery is one of the leading causes for couples to divorce each other and despite that fact, it is only a ground for divorce. 

Adultery doesn’t have a direct influence on which spouse gets custody of children, nor does it grant the victim a better division of matrimonial assets. 

The Court doesn’t weigh its decisions based on the mistakes of either party but rather focuses on giving a just settlement for both of them based on the spouses’ contributions. 

Top 8 Divorce Mistakes to Avoid

Everybody makes mistakes but when it comes to divorce, there are few things to avoid in order for you and your spouse to get the best possible settlement. Keep our list of divorce mistakes in mind before you decide to take your case further!

1. Acting Out Based on Emotions

1. Acting Out Based on Emotions

One of the most common divorce mistakes is filling for one following an emotional breakdown or acting out of anger, revenge, or sadness. 

A divorce is not a simple process and requires a lot of counselling and mediating before it can get to a court for approval. 

While it’s completely valid for emotions to go on a high during marital issues, acting out of anger or resentment towards your spouse isn’t advisable nor acceptable because it may lead you to make irrational decisions. 

2. Filing for Divorce without a Divorce Lawyer

2. Filing for Divorce without a Divorce Lawyer

While it’s possible to file for divorce without legal aid, it is still advisable to get a divorce lawyer to help you. Even if you know a family member or friend who has gone through a divorce, their advice may not be the most beneficial to your specific circumstances. 

In fact, even attorneys give varying legal advice based on their client’s needs and wants, so even if it worked out for your friend or family member, solely relying on their past experiences may not be helpful during the divorce case. 

A divorce attorney will not just give you legal advice, but they also oversee and manage paperwork, settle negotiations, represent you in court, and help you navigate through issues related to the division of assets, finances, and child support. 

It is your attorney’s job to help you make informed decisions during a complicated and difficult time, and a voice of reason like theirs is quintessential to a divorce. 

3. Refusing to Speak Up About Your Wants with Your Spouse

3. Refusing to Speak Up About Your Wants with Your Spouse

Divorce cases are tricky and may cause more rifts between you and your spouse during the process. 

Even when spouses separate due to irreconcilable differences or there are contests involved, maintaining an open line of communication is still vital for an amicable divorce settlement.

Refusing to speak with your spouse about your wants and needs during counselling may lead to lapses or dissatisfaction with the outcome or settlement. 

4. Spilling All the Details

4. Spilling All the Details

You have lawyers for a reason, and discussing all the legal details with your spouse you are divorcing is not the best practice. 

You can, however, talk about what you want out of the separation such as the needs of your children, but leave the legal details out of the conversation. You are both still involved in a legal case, after all. 

5. Finding a New Partner Following or During the Divorce Case

5. Finding a New Partner Following or During the Divorce Case

Although divorcing your spouse means you will no longer have a legal marital bond with each other, it doesn’t mean you should involve yourself with another person until the divorce is formalised. 

Finding a new partner may have its emotional benefits, but getting involved too soon may cause difficulties. 

Your spouse and their legal team may use your romantic relations outside of the marriage against you, or the relationship may trigger negative emotions that could potentially make dealing with court proceedings more difficult. 

That said, it is advisable not to get involved with someone new until your divorce is final. 

6. Withholding Assets from Your Spouse and the Court

6. Withholding Assets from Your Spouse and the Court

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to speaking with your attorney about your divorce case. 

You should tell your lawyer about anything important that might help your case, especially when it involves finances, assets, and any agreements made between you and your spouse before and during the marriage. 

Telling all the details about your marital issues may seem like an invasion of privacy, but you shouldn’t withhold from speaking the truth, even if it’s difficult. 

Your lawyer is a professional and has a duty to protect your privacy, so if there is any information that might benefit your case, be honest about it! 

7. Posting about Your Divorce on Social Media

7. Posting about Your Divorce on Social Media

Divorces are private matters, and sharing your case with the world may do more harm than good. Posting about your divorce entails exposing private information to the public, and it can be used against you during court proceedings. 

That doesn’t mean you have to stay out of the radar forever, though. You can disable your account or restrict your followers to a trusted few for the duration of the divorce if posting about it becomes too tempting. 

8. Not Planning for the Future

8. Not Planning for the Future

While winning a great divorce settlement is the goal, there’s still a bigger picture at play: the future. 

This includes the future of your kids and your long-term financial situation. With the knowledge that your assets will be divided and that you and your ex-spouse might raise your children separately, it’s important to plan your finances before the case is finalised. 

You should discuss with your lawyer your long-term financial planning for yourself and your children if you have any. 

Aside from covering legal fees, planning for your future sets realistic expectations and saves you from drowning in a sticky financial situation post-divorce. 

Does Singapore have a high divorce rate?

Does Singapore have a high divorce rate

In 2022, there were a total of 6,922 divorces in Singapore, showing a 9.8% decrease from the previous year’s divorce rate. 

Despite the decrease in divorce numbers, statistics show that Singapore’s crude divorce rate grew over the course of 20 years. 

The numbers suggest that Singapore has a high divorce rate, juxtaposed to its population and the 29,389 marriages registered in the same year. 

Why is the divorce rate in Singapore high?

Why is the divorce rate in Singapore high

The most common causes of Singapore’s high divorce rate are infidelity, lack of intimacy, domestic violence, increasing women’s independence, and financial insecurity.

Infidelity remains to be one of the top reasons for divorce, followed by domestic violence and financial insecurity. Singapore’s shift to providing more opportunities for women to live by themselves has been shown to influence wives to leave their spouses. 

Although these reasons are common, no two couples go through the same divorce case. 

Does Singapore have no-fault divorce?

Does Singapore have no-fault divorce

A no-fault divorce, or divorce by mutual agreement, is a type of divorce case wherein spouses accept joint responsibility for the breakdown of their marriage and mutually agree to a divorce. 

This means each party is not blamed for any conflict or differences that may have caused the marriage to break down. 

Here, the spouses aren’t obliged to stay in their marriage before a case is filed.

Before you can file for a no-fault divorce, spouses must prove that their marriage has broken down irretrievably with the following factors:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • At least three years of consensual separation 
  • At least four years of continuous separation
  • Adultery

A no-fault divorce is one of the newest additions to valid grounds for divorce in Singapore after Parliament passed the Women’s Charter Amendment Bill 43/2021 last January 2022. 

This amendment to the Singapore divorce law aims to give citizens opportunities to make divorces more amicable and to reduce the emotional toll a divorce takes on children. 

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