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Divorce Laws in Singapore: Managing Finances & Understanding Legalities

Collin Seow
Publish date: Fri, 12 Apr 2024, 07:00 PM
Collin Seow
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Collin Seow (CFTe,CPM) is an experienced remisier who mentor his clients to help them to build a stock portfolio.

Introduction – Guide to Divorce Laws & Process

Navigating through a divorce encompasses not only the emotional strain but also the complexity of ancillary matters, which can become an arduous financial burden, particularly within the dynamic legal framework of Singapore.

Are you aware that in order to file for a divorce in this jurisdiction, one must be a citizen or have lived continuously in Singapore for three years, and grounds such as unreasonable behaviour or having committed adultery must be established?

This blog post is crafted to shed light on the intricacies of the process, offering comprehensive guidance on understanding your legal rights and managing financial duties amidst these testing circumstances. If you’re intrigued by the prospect of securing financial stability as a newly single parent post-divorce, continue reading for valuable insights.

Key Takeaways

  • To initiate a divorce under Singapore law, one must fulfill specific prerequisites, which include holding citizenship or residing in the country for a minimum of three years and being in a marriage that has lasted no less than three years. Additionally, the presentation of divorce papers must cite acceptable grounds for divorce in Singapore. 
  • The formal procedure for divorce mandates the submission of divorce papers, substantiation of the marriage's irreparable dissolution under the grounds for divorce in Singapore, and the adjudication of matters such as the division of assets and child custody, which may be settled via mediation or in the courts. 
  • It’s imperative to navigate your finances carefully during a divorce, as it bears consequential long-term effects. A clear comprehension of the financial repercussions of a divorce is vital, considering the associated expenses, allocation of joint assets, and the stipulations for spousal and child support as delineated by Singapore law. 
  • To maintain financial equilibrium throughout and after the divorce process, it’s advisable to seek the counsel of financial planning experts and devise a prudent budget. Emotional and practical support from kin and companions also plays an integral role during such a formidable period.

Close-up view of a couple's hands with wedding rings, positioned on either side of a divorce agreement document with a pen on top, symbolizing the decision to separate legally in accordance with the divorce process in Singapore.

Understanding the Divorce Process in Singapore

To navigate the legal proceedings of divorce in Singapore effectively, it is crucial to comprehend the eligibility criteria and legitimate grounds for divorce, including the requisite proof that the marriage has irretrievably broken.

Additionally, a guide to divorce in Singapore will illuminate the procedural steps for filing for divorce and the critical components like the division of matrimonial assets, child custody arrangements, and the management of contested divorce cases.

Eligibility and grounds for divorce

Certain prerequisites must be satisfied before commencing divorce proceedings in Singapore. Firstly, one party must be a Singaporean citizen, or at least one of you should have resided in Singapore for at least 3 years prior to initiating the divorce.

Furthermore, you need to have been married for at least no less than three years. To establish legal grounds for a divorce based on the assertion that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, one ground for divorce must be proven: the party must demonstrate that they find it intolerable to live with the other due to bad behavior or adultery, that there has been desertion without justification, or that both parties have been living apart, either without consent for a continuous period or with an agreement.

However, the legal framework does not provide a distinct provision for expatriate couples who originate from other countries and wish to contest the divorce in Singapore.

Process of filing for divorce

To file a divorce in Singapore, one must follow a structured process, which is divided into two primary stages during the divorce proceedings.

  1. Initially, eligibility for divorce must be established. This entails being a Singapore citizen or having resided in the country for a continuous period of three years before filing for divorce. Furthermore, your marriage should have persisted for a minimum of three years.
  2. Subsequently, your task is to substantiate the reason for divorce by demonstrating to the court that your marriage is irreparably damaged and cannot continue.
  3. Having provided the reason for divorce, you then embark on the two-part filing process. The first stage is where the court considers whether the marriage is salvageable.
  4. Should the court concur with your claim, an interim judgment for divorce is granted.
  5. The second stage of the divorce proceedings addresses ancillary issues such as the division of marital assets, alimony, and custody of the children.
  6. After resolving these matters, the court issues a final judgment order, formally dissolving your marriage.
  7. Couples not ready to dissolve their marriage but desiring to live separately may opt for a judicial separation rather than pursuing a divorce.

Division of matrimonial assets and maintenance

Dividing assets in a divorce is hard. In Singapore, this takes place after the main divorce process. The goal is to share things in a fair and just way. The court looks at what each person brought into the marriage.

It also looks at how much each person needs to live on.

Sometimes, one person may need help from the other after the divorce. This is called maintenance. It only happens if sharing the assets does not give both persons enough money to live on.

For example, bank accounts shared by both persons are divided fairly between them.

Child custody and access arrangements

Child custody and access arrangements are important considerations in divorce cases in Singapore. It refers to the rights and responsibilities that parents have for their children after the marriage has ended.

Recent statistics show that child custody is a common issue in divorce cases. In joint custody arrangements, both parents are granted the authority to make major decisions for their child.

There are different types of child custody arrangements available, such as custody, care, and control, as well as access arrangements. These can be determined through mediation or negotiation between the divorcing couple.

Contested divorce cases

Contested divorce cases in Singapore can be complex and time-consuming. They occur when both parties cannot agree on important issues such as child custody, division of assets, or maintenance payments.

The duration of a contested divorce can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the cooperation between both parties. It is crucial to seek legal advice from experienced divorce lawyers who can help navigate these disputes and potentially reach a resolution more quickly, saving both time and money.

A couple sits at a table with a noticeable distance between them, signifying strain or separation, with a focus on a document that appears to be a financial statement or divorce paperwork. Two wedding rings lay in the foreground, symbolizing the dissolution of marriage. This image represents the critical task of managing finances and assets during the divorce process in Singapore.

Managing Finances During a Divorce in Singapore

During a divorce in Singapore, it is crucial to manage finances effectively to mitigate the financial impact of the separation.

Financial impact of divorce

Getting a divorce can have a big impact on your finances in Singapore. It’s important to understand how it can affect you before and during the process. When you get divorced, the assets that you and your spouse acquired during the marriage will be considered.

This includes things like property, investments, and savings. The court will then decide how these assets should be divided between both parties. Additionally, if there are children involved, there may be spousal and child maintenance fees that need to be paid.

These financial arrangements can have long-term consequences for your financial stability after the divorce is finalized.

Cost of divorce

The cost of getting a divorce in Singapore can vary depending on different factors. For simplified uncontested divorces, the fees typically range from $1,500 to $3,500. However, if the divorce is contested and requires more time and resources, the costs can be higher.

It’s important to note that these fees are just for legal representation and do not include other expenses like court fees or any additional services you may need. Before starting the process, it’s advisable to have an initial consultation with a divorce lawyer, where pre-divorce fees can range from free to up to S$500.

Understanding these costs can help you plan your finances accordingly during this challenging time.

Division of marital assets

The division of marital assets in Singapore after a divorce can be a complex and contentious issue. It is important to seek guidance from an experienced divorce lawyer, as this process can greatly affect your financial future.

Matrimonial assets include assets acquired by both parties during the marriage, and determining how they should be divided is often highly contested. If couples are unable to reach an agreement, the court will make a decision based on various factors, such as each party’s contributions and needs.

This division usually happens during the ancillary stage of divorce proceedings. Seek legal advice to understand your rights and ensure a fair distribution of assets.

Spousal and child maintenance fees

Spousal and child maintenance fees are significant financial considerations during a divorce in Singapore. Both spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, and child maintenance are legal obligations that aim to prevent financial hardship following a divorce.

Type of Maintenance Purpose Legal Basis Duration
Spousal Maintenance This is intended to prevent financial hardship for the less financially capable spouse after the divorce. The court has the power to order one spouse to pay maintenance to the other. The length of time for spousal maintenance varies depending on the circumstances of the divorce.
Child Maintenance This serves to cover the cost of raising and providing for the child’s needs. All parents in Singapore, including divorced ones, have a legal duty to provide child maintenance. Child maintenance is typically provided until the child becomes self-sufficient, usually at the age of 21.

In some cases, an ex-wife may not be awarded any spousal maintenance if she can sufficiently support herself. Guidelines and calculators are available to determine appropriate child maintenance amounts, considering various factors like the child’s needs, the parent’s earning capacity, and other relevant circumstances. These financial obligations underline the importance of sound financial planning during and after a divorce.

A stressed single parent comforting her baby while struggling with challenges during and post-divorce, highlighting the need for supportive strategies for single parents.

Tips for Single Parents During and After a Divorce

Seek financial planning advice to navigate the complexities of managing finances post-divorce and ensure long-term stability.

Seek financial planning advice

Managing finances during and after a divorce can be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with financial planning. That’s why it’s important to seek professional advice from a financial planner who can help you navigate through this difficult time.

A financial planner can assist you in creating a budget, understanding your assets and liabilities, and making long-term plans for financial stability. They can also provide guidance on managing debts, addressing tax implications, and ensuring that you have enough savings for the future.

By seeking their expertise, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions about your finances and secure a brighter future for yourself and your family.

Consider seeking support from family and friends

Divorce can be a challenging and emotional process, especially when it comes to managing finances and legalities. One important aspect of navigating through this difficult time is seeking support from family and friends.

Having a strong support network can provide emotional support, guidance, and practical assistance with childcare issues. Research has shown that single parents in Singapore who receive support from family and friends are more likely to raise their children effectively.

Additionally, external sources of financial help are often sought by single parents, with family and friends being primary sources of assistance. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to your loved ones during this challenging period, as they can offer valuable support throughout your divorce journey.

Make a budget and stick to it

Crafting and adhering to a budget is crucial throughout the divorce process and beyond. Consider these strategies for effective financial management:

  • Determine your income and expenses: Calculate how much money you have coming in each month and the necessary expenses you need to cover, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, and transportation.
  • Trim extraneous costs: Pinpoint opportunities to scale back on non-essential expenditures. This could include dining out less frequently, canceling unused subscriptions or memberships, and finding cheaper alternatives for certain purchases.
  • Prioritize essential expenses: Make sure to allocate enough money for important expenses like housing, food, and healthcare. Take care of these necessities first before spending on non-essential items.
  • Build an emergency fund: Set aside some savings each month to create an emergency fund. This can help cover unexpected expenses or provide a safety net during difficult times.
  • Seek professional advice: Consider consulting a financial planner or advisor who specializes in divorce-related finances. They can provide guidance on how to manage your money effectively and plan for long-term financial stability.

Plan for long-term financial stability

Divorce can have long-term financial implications, so it’s important to plan for stability. Single parents should seek financial planning advice to understand their options and make informed decisions.

This may include assessing their current assets, managing debts, and creating a budget that prioritizes essential expenses. It’s also crucial to consider long-term goals such as retirement planning and investing wisely.

By taking proactive steps towards financial stability, single parents can navigate the challenges of divorce with more confidence and security for themselves and their children.


In conclusion, managing finances during and after a divorce in Singapore can be challenging. It is important to understand the legalities involved in the divorce process, including eligibility criteria, grounds for divorce, and division of assets.

By seeking financial planning advice and creating a budget for long-term stability, single parents can navigate this difficult time successfully. Remember to also seek support from family and friends as you strive to rebuild your life after divorce.

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