Divorce can be a financially and emotionally draining process. If you are an expatriate in Singapore, you may be wondering about how to get an expat divorce in Singapore. Can and should you get a divorce in Singapore? What are the implications of an expat divorce in Singapore? In this article, we discuss the ten issues which you should consider before filing for divorce in Singapore.
1. Do You Qualify for Divorce in Singapore?
You qualify to file for divorce in Singapore if:
a. Either you or your spouse is domiciled in Singapore. This can mean that either party is a Singapore citizen or the Court finds that either party:
i. Has an intention to remain in Singapore indefinitely.
ii. And voluntary resides in Singapore as an inhabitant rather than a casual visitor.
b. If both parties are not domiciled in Singapore, either party must have been residing in Singapore for the 3 years immediately preceding the filing of the divorce.
c. Other than satisfying criteria 1(a) or 1(b), you will need to be married for at least 3 years to file for divorce in Singapore. Otherwise, you may also file for divorce if you have been married for under 3 years but the Court agrees that the applicant suffers exceptional hardship or that there was exceptional depravity on the part of the other party.
On the other hand, if you are looking at voiding your marriage through the annulment process, you will have to show that:
a. You fulfill one of the grounds of annulment.
b. Both parties must be residing in Singapore at the time of the commencement of the annulment proceedings or either party must be domiciled in Singapore/ habitually resident in Singapore for at least 3 years before the filing of nullity proceedings.
2. Stay of Singapore Proceedings if You Wish to Divorce Overseas
In the event that you find that it is more appropriate for parties to divorce overseas, you may apply to Court for a stay (i.e. suspension) of the Singapore proceedings if you spouse had filed for divorce in Singapore. Your chances of succeeding at such a stay application will be higher if:
a. Your children are residing overseas.
b. Most of the matrimonial assets are located overseas.
3. Ground of Divorce
a. The commission of adultery by your spouse and you find it intolerable to continue living with him/ her.
b. The commission of unreasonable behaviour by your spouse and you find it intolerable to continue living with him/ her.
c. The desertion (i.e. abandonment) of you by your spouse for at least 2 continuous years preceding the filing of the divorce.
d. Parties’ separation for 3 years if both parties consent to the divorce.
e. Parties’ separation for 4 years.
4. Is Your Prenuptial Agreement Enforceable in Singapore?
5. Cancellation of Dependant’s Pass
If you are residing in Singapore and holding a dependant’s pass applied by your spouse, your spouse may decide to cancel your dependant’s pass. This means that you no longer have the right to continue staying in Singapore. In such a situation, you have the option to apply for an interim injunction to prevent your spouse from cancelling the dependant’s pass. You may also apply for a long-term visit pass if your child is a Singapore citizen/ Singapore PR.
6. Overseas Assets
Assets based overseas are still subject to division by the Courts in Singapore if they fall under the definition of “matrimonial asset” under the Women’s Charter. Under Section 112 of the Women’s Charter, matrimonial assets are defined as:
a. Assets acquired during the marriage by either party.
b. Assets acquired before the marriage by either party and ordinarily used by the parties and/ or their children (such as your matrimonial home).
c. Assets acquired before the marriage by either party which has been substantially improved by the other party.
However, it may difficult to enforce a Singapore Court order in another jurisdiction and you may have to commence proceedings in another jurisdiction to deal specifically with the overseas assets.
7. Dependant’s Pass After Conclusion of the Divorce Proceedings
After the conclusion of the divorce proceedings, you will no longer qualify for a dependant’s pass since you are no longer your spouse’s dependant. Your long-term visit pass may still be renewed if you fulfill the eligibility criteria.
8. Your Children’s Residency Status in Singapore After Conclusion of the Divorce Proceedings
If your children are Singapore citizens or Singapore PR, they will be allowed to remain in Singapore. Otherwise, if they are under the care and control of the party who has an employment pass/ S pass in Singapore, they may also continue to hold a dependant’s pass in Singapore. They can also apply for a student’s pass to study in Singapore.
9. Relocation of Children Out of Singapore
You may do so if you have the consent of the other party or the Court. If you relocate your children without consent, you may be liable for international child abduction under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child abduction.
10. What if Your Spouse Wrongfully Took the Children Out of Singapore?
If the country where your children are brought to is a member country of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, you may apply for a return of the child by:
a. Applying to the Family Justice Courts or seeking the assistance of the Singapore Central Authority to make an application to the overseas jurisdiction for the return of your child.
b. Applying to the Central Authority of the country where your child is at for the return of your child.
Commencing foreign proceedings in that country where your child is at for the return of your child.
In the event that your child has not been brought to a member country of the Hague Convention, or if you have more questions on filing for an expat divorce in Singapore, you should contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp).
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