How to Divorce Within 3 Years of Marriage in Singapore

In Singapore, the typical requirement for obtaining a divorce is to have been married for at least three years. However, the court may grant an exception and allow a couple to file for divorce even if their marriage has lasted less than three years in certain exceptional situations. To divorce within three years of marriage in Singapore, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Exceptional hardship or exceptional depravity. The plaintiff (the party filing the divorce) must demonstrate that they are suffering from extraordinary hardship or the defendant (the other party to the divorce) has caused the plaintiff exceptional depravity. The Singapore High Court has defined “exceptional hardship” as something out of the ordinary and more than what a person should bear.
  2. Leave of court. You must file an application for leave to file for divorce based on “exceptional hardship” suffered by you or “exceptional depravity” on the part of your spouse. The court will consider your application and may grant you permission to file for divorce despite the three-year time bar.
  3. Proving exceptional hardship or depravity. You must provide evidence to support your claim of exceptional hardship or depravity. This could include medical reports, affidavits, or other documentation that demonstrates the exceptional nature of your situation.
  4. Annulment. If you are unable to obtain a divorce due to the three-year time bar, you may consider annulling your marriage. To do so, you must satisfy any of the grounds for annulment as specified in the Women’s Charter. The effect of an annulment is that the parties’ marriage becomes voidable, meaning that they are put into the position as if the marriage had not existed at all.
  5. Deed of Separation. As an alternative, parties may consider drafting a Deed of Separation and working out the settlement terms for ancillary matters, such as custody, care and control of the children, division of matrimonial assets, and maintenance for the children and wife. This document is aimed at preventing contested litigation in the divorce proceedings.

Considerations when planning to file for divorce

When planning to file for divorce in Singapore, there are several considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Eligibility. To qualify for divorce in Singapore, both parties should meet the legal requirements, such as being domiciled in Singapore during the commencement of divorce proceedings or being habitually resident in Singapore for a minimum of three years immediately before the divorce.
  2. Reasons for divorce. There is only one ground for divorce in Singapore, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. There are five facts to prove that a marriage has been broken down irretrievable and these facts are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, three years separation with consent and 4 years separation without consent. 
  3. Divorce process. The divorce process can be contested or uncontested. If the couple agrees to proceed on an uncontested basis and they agree on the reasons for divorce and the ancillary matters, they can file for a divorce on a simplified track. If there is a dispute, the couple will have to file for a divorce on a normal track.
  4. Ancillary matters. Divorce proceedings may also involve the division of matrimonial assets, child custody, and maintenance. Parties should consider these aspects and try to negotiate an agreement on them before filing for divorce.
  5. Costs of divorce. The costs of divorce proceedings can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the legal representation involved, let alone the fees of a divorce lawyer in Singapore.  It is essential to budget for these costs and consider the financial implications of the divorce process.
  6. Impact on children. Divorce can have a significant emotional impact on children, and parents should consider how the divorce will affect their children when making their decision.
  7. Alternatives to divorce. Before filing for divorce, couples may consider other options such as annulment, deed of separation, or counseling to resolve their marital issues.

It is crucial to consult with a divorce lawyer in Singapore to discuss your specific situation and determine the best course of action for your case. The lawyer can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights and obligations, and ensure that you are making informed decisions.


Aurelia Deford
the authorAurelia Deford