Why Getting A Contested Divorce May Not Be For You
While the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce may appear to be simple on the surface, it tends to be easily misunderstood here in Singapore.
As it is, it seems pretty clear that a contested divorce is disputed, while an uncontested divorce is not disputed. However, this simplistic explanation can ironically create more confusion than clarity.
Making decisions can be scary when we don’t know the difference and consequences. Knowledge and support is key whenever you’re confused.
Here’s what everyone ought to know about the difference between the two divorce processes. It could save your sanity amidst all the chaos and confusion.
Uncontested Divorce: Both parties have come to an agreement on all issues to their divorce privately and amicably, more efficient and inexpensive, as hearings can be as short as 10 minutes.
Here’s What You Do For Uncontested Divorce:
- Confirm what is written in the Statement of Claim & Statement of Particulars is accurate. Your spouse will file a Memorandum of Appearance consenting to the divorce.
- Link to Memorandum of Appearance form – https://www.familyjusticecourts.gov.sg/what-we-do/family-courts/divorce
- Start planning and agree on parental care arrangements for your children for their children below 21 years of age. You then can file an Agreed Parenting Plan.
- Decide and agree on what to do with your Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat after the divorce, you can proceed to file an Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan.
- Once both parties have agreed on all ancillary issues, a Draft Consent Order can be filed.
As only one lawyer is required for filing the Draft Consent Order, parties need not incur additional legal fees to hire another divorce lawyer. The court will then review whether the information provided is sufficient.
If the court is not convinced that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the court can require both parties to attend an open court hearing for them to present further evidence to support their case.
Once the court is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that all ancillary matters have been settled, it will grant an Interim Judgment confirming that the marriage has been dissolved.
This Interim Judgment can only be made final after 3 months.
On the other hand, Contested Divorce: at least one issue of the divorce still needs to be resolved, more time and effort consuming as both parties will have to attend trial and provide evidence to support their respective cases on how that issue(s) should be resolved.
Such proceedings can be lengthy and arduous. It will hence take longer before the court can grant an Interim Judgment.
Here’s What You Do For Contested Divorce:
- If the Defendant is contesting the Writ, he or she will have 22 days from the date of service of the Writ of Divorce to file a Defence and serve it on the Plaintiff.
- A detailed overview of the processes can be found here by family justice courts – https://www.familyjusticecourts.gov.sg/what-we-do/family-courts/divorce
- Once the Defendant files a Defence, the Plaintiff will have 14 days from the date of service of Defence to file his or her Reply to Defence and counterclaim.
- A contested contested divorce has to go through a Pre-Trial Conference. Alternatively in some cases, a date for mediation can be set. The Pre-Trial Conference looks into whether some issues can be resolved, and thus narrows the contested areas.
However, in some situations, no matter how hard you work for it, the two sides just cannot come to an agreement. If that becomes the case, then the divorce will be considered as contested.
This is so even if the court needs to decide for even one issue. If this occurs, understand that it will significantly increase the expense of your divorce.
If you do not have a lawyer already, make sure you speak to an experienced lawyer immediately.
Child Focused Resolution Centre mediation, Family Mediation Scheme & Private/Out-of-Court Mediation.
Remember, Mediation is not a must, the choice is yours.
Amend your reasons for divorce. However, bear in mind that the Family Justice Courts have the final say in pronouncing a divorce and should the information be insufficient for the Court to allow the divorce, you may need to refile the Divorce.
It is on a case-to-case basis. Some grounds for divorce, such as desertion or separation may be time-reliant.
Some people may think that adultery is the main reason for the divorce whereas other factors may also influence the reason example, where the children will live or how assets are divided.
It is not required for you to appear in Court if the case is Uncontested.
You must still follow the proper procedures. Don’T ignore the Court case, otherwise the Court may decide on the case without you.
Although your marriage has been legally ended, and that certain orders have been made on the children, property and maintenance.
These orders will still be binding on you/apply to you even if you were not at the Court hearing.
The Family Dispute Resolution Centre of the Family Justice Court is dedicated to helping you and your spouse come to an amicable arrangement on the divorce and ancillary matters.
Make a request for a Family Dispute Resolution Conference with a Judge.
You can make your request through your lawyer if you have one, or to the Assistant Registrar when you attend Court at the Status Conference or Case Conference stage of your divorce proceedings.
You can also make a request for counselling.
Seek support if you’re still in doubt. For Divorce Support Specialist, you may find more information here:
AWARE Women’s Helpline is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m
Applying for legal aid from the Legal Aid Bureau is one avenue of financial assistance for legal fees. Resources for Legal Aid Bureau – https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/lab/en.html
- Stay civil — There may be times during negotiations that you will get frustrated. Having an outbursts can lead to sessions ending prematurely, so practice patience.
- Listen — No one likes to be ignored. Even if you disagree, listen to what your spouse has to say.
- Don’t seek more than your fair share — there are no “winners” in a divorce. If you go in with the attitude that you want to “win,” you are essentially ensuring the divorce will reach court.
- Don’t make principal arguments — fighting for something out of principle is a good way to raise tensions and alienate your spouse. If it isn’t important to you, don’t make it a bigger issue.
- Be open to compromise — accept that you aren’t going to get everything you want; just as your spouse will not get everything she wants.
- Utilize professionals — having an impartial, third-party mediator or an attorney assist negotiations can help set emotions aside and put everything in perspective.
When a couple have decided that their marriage is no longer working, there are many important issues to settle before the divorce is final.
They must determine how to divide the marital property and debts, how the custody of any children will be arranged and if either spouse will be required to pay child support — and those are just among the commonly disputed matters.
Since every divorce will have unique circumstances, numerous other issues specific to a couple are bound to pop up. For professional services on family law, contact us below to get the legal advice you need.
Our fees are reasonable and affordable and we provide a free first consultation to first understand your case and thereafter explain to you the fees involved.
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