The idea of divorce is overwhelming for most people, even when they know it’s the right thing to do. It’s no easy task to lay aside the dreams you had for your relationship or face the legal dismantling of your family structure. However, once you realize that the breakup of your marriage is inevitable, you need to start preparing for your divorce as soon as possible. Although it may be painful, acting promptly can help you begin your new life on the best foot possible. Here’s a simple strategy to get started:
1. Be sure you’re eligible for divorce.
Not everyone is eligible to divorce in Singapore. This country has several pre-conditions for dissolving a marriage, including:
- you must have been married for at least three years
- you or your spouse must be domiciled in Singapore at the start of the divorce proceedings, or you have lived in Singapore three years immediately prior to the divorce proceedings.
- you can show that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down.”
In extreme circumstances, you may seek a divorce even if you’ve been married for less than three years if you’ve suffered “exceptional hardship” or your spouse is exceptionally unreasonable and cruel.
If you aren’t sure whether you meet these conditions, consult with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer in Singapore as soon as possible.
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2. Familiarise yourself with the divorce process.
Try to prepare yourself by reading as much as you can about divorce in Singapore. There are thousands of online articles and blog posts, written for non-lawyers that can provide valuable insight into different aspects of the process. Learn the difference between contested and uncontested divorce, issues concerning child custody and maintenance, and how the courts approach division of matrimonial property. Educating yourself will help you understand what you can expect from the process, allow you to make informed decisions, and make you feel more empowered.
3. Find an experienced divorce lawyer.
It’s smart to consult with a good divorce lawyer early on in the process. A divorce lawyer can help you better understand the various paths to marital dissolution in Singapore (mediation, collaborative divorce, and litigation), and discuss which option is right for you. A lawyer can also answer questions regarding concerns specific to your situation, especially regarding child custody, matrimonial property, and child and spousal maintenance issues.
Look for a divorce lawyer who has ample experience and is transparent about costs and fees. But it’s just as critical to choose someone you trust. Your lawyer will need to know all the facts of your marriage to help you reach a favorable outcome, so it’s important to select a person with whom you feel comfortable confiding personal information.
4. Know your assets.
Before filing for divorce, you should develop a good understanding of your matrimonial assets, personal assets, and other financial issues. Make a complete list of all your marital and personal assets, and gather relevant financial documentation, such as:
- bank statements
- insurance records
- IRAS statements
- mortgages, deeds, or housing loan documentation
- receipts and
- documents demonstrating debt and liabilities.
Having a firm grasp on your marital assets and finances will help put you in a position of strength when negotiating with your spouse.
Related Article: Matrimonial Assets Division – What the Court will ask you
5. Talk to your spouse.
This may be one of the most difficult steps, but you need to speak with your spouse about the divorce. It’s essential to know whether your spouse will try to contest the divorce or whether you will be able to agree on most of the central terms with minimal dispute. An uncontested divorce is the quickest, most cost-effective, and least painful way to get through the process. If you and your spouse can find a way to work together to dissolve your marriage amicably, you can enter your new lives with a healthier bank balance and state of mind.