13 Important Things You Should Know Before Getting A Divorce
Transitions are scary because we don’t know where we’re going. It’s just human nature to be afraid of the unknown.
You’re not alone. Divorce rate in Singapore is relatively high, with 7,575 marriages ending in divorce or annulment in 2017.
Divorce is not a dirty word. Here’s what everyone ought to know about the divorce process. It could save your sanity amidst all the chaos and confusion. With knowledge comes understanding.
1 – Empower Yourself Emotionally And Spiritually
Acknowledge your feelings and emotions, release those negative emotions – it’s okay to cry. You’re human.
Focus on the present moment, be grateful. Talk to a trusted friend or consult a professional. There are many Family Service Centres or Professional Counsellors that can support you.
AWARE Women’s Helpline is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m
Call 1800 777 5555 to speak to an operator.
The divorce process takes time, it’s not immediate. Take the time to process everything that is happening around you.
Before considering divorce you may wish to consider separation with your spouse. If you wish to do so, it would be prudent to sign a Deed of Separation.
2 – What is a Deed of Separation?
It is a document that lawyers can draft for you and your spouse to sign to agree to live apart, including children, financial arrangements and division of matrimonial assets.
The time apart may be helpful to allow things to cool down and consider other options like seeking help from a marriage therapist / counsellor to salvage your marriage.
If you choose to proceed divorce, you may rely on the Deed for your divorce on the basis of living apart for 3 years with consent.
Unless there is material change in circumstances, or if the Court deems the terms not to be in the welfare of the children, the terms in the Deed will usually be upheld.
You may also seek to enlist the help of a divorce lawyer.
3 – A Divorce Lawyer Can Help You
These are some things how a divorce lawyer can support you.
- Advise you – Is it possible to get divorce? On what grounds you can get divorced and what evidence you will need to provide to back up your claims. Your lawyer can also talk you through the process.
- Handle the divorce for you – There are many stages to divorce proceedings, from making the application for divorce and preparing and filing the various documents to collecting data about all your assets and liabilities and attending hearings. All this will be handled and run by a lawyer.
- Attend mediation sessions with you – You’ll be required to attend mediation sessions if you have children under 21 years of age.
- Matrimonial assets, spousal maintenance, children custody issues – In order for your matrimonial assets to be divided and any order for spousal maintenance made, a lawyer will prepare and file documents containing information about your assets, liabilities, income and expenditure, as well as attend hearings. Documents filed by a lawyer as well as his or her attendance at hearings will play a part in any decision concerning custody and/or care and control of your children.
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Common Questions On Divorce Proceedings / Processes
4 – How Much Does A Divorce Lawyer Cost In Singapore?
Lawyers’ fees can vary greatly depending on the complexity of your matter as well as the law firm’s own pricing.
The estimated divorce fees in Singapore range from $1,500 to $3,500 for simplified uncontested divorces (i.e. where both spouses can agree on all terms of the divorce), and $10,000 to $35,000 for contested divorces (i.e. where both spouses are contesting at least one term of the divorce).
5 – What If I Have No Money For A Divorce Lawyer?
Applying for legal aid from the Legal Aid Bureau is one avenue of financial assistance for legal fees. Here’s a link for you to learn more:
You may also attend legal clinics to obtain free legal advice.
6 – Is It Possible To File For Divorce Without Engaging A Lawyer?
Yes. Be assured that you will be held to the same standards as if you were represented by a lawyer. Furthermore, the Family Justice Courts cannot advise you on personal matters as they have to remain impartial.
7 – How Long Does A Divorce Process Take In Singapore?
If the divorce is uncontested and there is no delay in serving the divorce papers on your spouse and your spouse is co-operative, the process typically takes 5-6 months (bearing in mind that there is a mandatory 3 months period after the interim judgment is obtained to when the Court grants the final judgment for divorce.)
If contested, the divorce proceedings typically take 12 months and more depending on the nature of the dispute.
8 – Can I Go Out On Dates While Going Through Divorce Process?
The simple answer should always be: “Not until your divorce is final.”
9 – How Long Must I Wait Before I Remarry?
Upon obtaining the Final Judgement of your Divorce, you can then proceed to remarry. You can appeal at the court if you need to shorten the time, subject to court’s approval.
10 – Who Gets The House?
You and your spouse are free to mutually agree on what should happen to the house after divorce. For example, one spouse may agree to transfer their interest in the house to the other spouse, to allow the other spouse to keep the house.
Alternatively, both of you may decide to sell the house and split the sale proceeds in a certain proportion.
However, if you and your spouse are unable to agree on what should happen to the house after the divorce, the court will decide this on your behalf when dividing your matrimonial assets.
11 – What Is Child Custody?
Custody refers to the right to make major, long-term decisions concerning the child’s upbringing and welfare, such as their education and religion.
12 – Types Of Child Custody
- Sole Custody
- Joint Custody
- Hybrid Custody
Hybrid orders make it such that the custodial parent must consult the parent without custody on matters involving their child’s welfare.
- Split Custody
Split custody orders come into play when there is more than one child – custody of one sibling can be granted to one parent, while the custody of the other(s) is granted to the other parent.
Child custody is NOT the same as care and control of the child.
13 – What Is Care And Control?
Care and Control is the right to make decisions on the child’s day-to-day matters, such as what the child should wear or eat.
While care and control can be shared between the parents, it is typically granted to only one parent (usually the mother), and the other parent will be granted access to the child for certain periods.
Both parents and children (if mature enough) can state their preferences for the children’s future custody and care and control arrangements.
But ultimately, the court will base their decision not solely on what anybody wants, but what will be in the children’s best interests.
These few pointers should empower you enough to know what you should do.
- LOVE YOURSELF enough not to stay in a unhealthy marriage
- FOCUS on YOURSELF first – Self-Care is NOT selfish
- Relive your Aspirations & Dreams
- Don’t allow anyone else to determine your actions
- Remain objective
- Be in a space of Gratitude
- Whatever that happens is for you, not to you
- There’s BLESSINGS in everything that has happened
- Set intentions to forgive and pray for strength to go through this life transition
Remember that separation is not for everyone. Some might benefit from it and reconcile and have stronger bond with their partner.
Or it can be a temporary resolute before they actually finalise on their divorce.
We are here to assist those whom wish to proceed with a divorce or are in the midst of divorce proceedings. Engaging a lawyer is not compulsory but it is definitely helpful especially when there is a lot at stake.
As lawyers, our professional duty is to represent our clients through their divorce proceedings and we will not advise on whether it is better for you to divorce or not. That is a decision that you will have to make on your own.
We do give out FREE Consultations with us, so that you may be in a better position to make the right decisions for yourself.
The first step that we take in a divorce case is to write letters proposing favourable terms (for both sides) to the opposing party. Our style is always to save costs for our client and attempt to try and settle in an amicable way.
If that fails, we will then proceed to a contested divorce route for our Client.
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