Issues in a Contentious Divorce in Singapore

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quick divorce

Issues in a Contentious Divorce in Singapore

A divorce is an emotionally difficult process and understandably so. Parties to a divorce not only have to deal with the end of a marriage and relationship, they also have to worry about other issues such as finances, where to live, and how the divorce might affect the children.

It does not help that some divorces tend to be more acrimonious than others. If your divorce is a highly contentious and stressful one, do take note of what the commonly disputed topics are:

 

1. Whose fault is it?

No one likes to be blamed for the failure of a marriage. As such it is common for parties to go through the divorce proceedings trying to prove that the dissolution of the marriage was due to the fault of the other party.

To reduce acrimony and to save both parties time and costs, it is advisable to water down the particulars of fault so that your spouse will be more agreeable to the divorce. Alternatively, to remove the fault component completely, parties may consider a separation of 3 or 4 years before filing for divorce.

The Singapore Courts will usually encourage parties to look beyond who is at fault and instead find common ground to allow the divorce to proceed with as little acrimony as possible.

 

2. Custody of children

The topic of custody, care and control, and access to children is undoubtedly the most difficult issue to deal with during a divorce.

In many contentious divorce cases, it is common for parties to fight for the custody of the children. Whilst most parents do so because they believe they are the better parent; others fight for custody simply out of spite towards the other parent. In such situations, it is helpful to have a good divorce lawyer, one who is able to mediate and encourage parents to act in the best interests of the children.

In Singapore, it is increasingly common for marriages to involve a non-Singapore resident – i.e. either between a Singaporean and non-resident, or between two non-residents. When a foreigner is involved, the issue of which country the child shall live in after the divorce will often arise. It is important to note that a parent shall only be allowed to relocate overseas with the child when consent of the other parent is sought. In the absence of the said consent, permission must be sought from Court. When determining matters pertaining to custody, care and control, and access to children during a divorce, the paramount consideration for the Singapore Courts is the welfare and best interests of the children.

As international and cross border divorces involving children are often highly complex, it is crucial to engage a divorce lawyer with the skill, compassion, and patience to assist parties in reaching an agreed outcome.

 

3. Spousal and Child Maintenance

Maintenance is considered a form of financial support. Under Section 69 of the Women’s Charter (Cap. 353) you can apply for maintenance:

  • For your child, from the other parent, if he or she neglects or refuses to provide the child with reasonable maintenance;
  • For yourself, from your husband, if you are a married woman whose husband neglects or refuses to provide you with reasonable maintenance;
  • For yourself, from your wife, if you are an incapacitated husband whose wife has neglected or refused to provide you with reasonable maintenance; or
  • For yourself, from your parent, if you are over 21 and you are still a full-time NSman or student.

As spousal maintenance can be paid over many years, the need to pay maintenance and the amount to be paid is usually argued upon heavily between parties undergoing a divorce.

Whilst most parties to a divorce are usually agreeable to provide maintenance for their child, disputes often arise when one party has been defaulting on payment and/or not paying an equal share. The fact that the maintenance sum is usually paid directly to the parent having care and control of the child further complicates the issue of maintenance as the paying party may feel that his/her ex-spouse is not using the monies for the child’s benefit and living expenses.  

 

4. Division of matrimonial assets

In contentious divorces, the division of matrimonial assets is a difficult issue that parties have to deal with. It is important to note that though the Singapore Courts divide matrimonial assets in a “fair and equitable” way, what is fair and equitable in the eyes of the law may not always seem fair and equitable to the parties involved.

It is common for parties to worry about not having a place to stay after the divorce. As such, when it comes to the division of the matrimonial property, it is often not easy for parties to come to an agreement with regard to who should retain ownership of the property and/or how the sale proceeds of the property should be divided.

In Singapore, it is common for couples to own either a HDB flat or a private property. If the matrimonial property is a HDB flat, parties must consider if the flat can be sold, whether it has to be returned to HDB, or if either party can retain the ownership of it. This issue is further complicated if the party who intends to retain the HDB flat is unqualified to retain it or lacks the financial means to service the mortgage.

In our experience with large and complex divorce cases, the most challenging and difficult cases usually involve private companies, trusts, assets in multiple jurisdictions and assets that are hidden. To ensure that the valuation of these assets is as fair and precise as possible, divorce lawyers will need to work closely with accountants and valuers. In such situations, it is important to have a good divorce lawyer, one who is able to articulate clearly what your share of assets should be, while taking into account the law, the circumstances of your case, and also both your direct and indirect contributions.

 

 

Conclusion

We understand that a divorce can be a daunting process. If you are going through a divorce, stay calm, be mindful of the commonly disputed topics above and engage the services of a good divorce lawyer. It may be tough now, but you will find yourself in a better place in time to come.

 

Contact Quick Divorce today

The divorce lawyers at Quick Divorce can help you to achieve a quick and friendly uncontested divorce if you wish to avoid a contentious divorce in Singapore.  Call us at 6854-3111.

HDB FLAT IN A SINGAPORE DIVORCE – WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR HDB FLAT IN A DIVORCE

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HDB Flat in a Divorce – How is it dealt with?

 

Most married couples in Singapore start their marriage journey with the purchase of a HDB flat. This property is also likely one of their largest asset and the most complicated to deal with, in light of the numerous CPF and HDB regulations governing it.

 

divorce lawyer singapore

 

  1. Can I still keep my HDB flat after a divorce?
  2. Even if I cannot keep the HDB flat, can I sell it to another person?

 

  1. Can I still keep my HDB flat after a divorce?

 

After a divorce, even if your spouse agreed/was ordered by the court to transfer their interest in the HDB flat to you, so that you hold the property solely, this does not mean that you will automatically be able to keep the HDB flat. You may only do so if you fulfil HDB’s eligibility conditions.

 

We discuss below 2 scenarios in which you may be allowed to retain the HDB flat.

 

Scenario 1: There are children to the marriage and you have been granted care and control of them

 

If there are children to the marriage, you may be allowed to keep the HDB flat if you meet these conditions:

  • You were granted care and control of the children after the divorce;
  • You are financially able to take on the payment of the home loan for the HDB flat; and
  • The divorce was not due to the non-consummation of marriage or was annulled.

 

Scenario 2: There are no children to the marriage and you are eligible under the Single Singaporean Citizen Scheme

 

If there are children to the marriage, you may be allowed to keep the HDB flat under the Single Singaporean Citizen (SSC) Scheme if you meet these conditions:

 

  • You are a Singapore citizen;
  • You are at least 35 years old; and
  • Your matrimonial flat is a resale flat purchased from the open market without the CPF Housing Grant for Family.

 

However, if you find that you do not meet condition (c) because your matrimonial flat was bought directly from HDB or was a resale flat bought with the CPF Housing Grant for Family, you must meet an additional requirement of fulfilling the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) before you can retain the flat under the SSC Scheme.

 

If you are unable to fulfil the MOP, it is still possible to include another person to keep the flat with, but the approval of this arrangement would be subject to HDB’s prevailing eligibility conditions and schemes.

 

  1. Since I cannot keep the HDB flat, can I sell it to another person in the open market?

 

If you find that you do not meet any of the 2 scenarios discussed above, you will not be allowed to keep your HDB flat and will have to dispose of it when you get divorced.

 

Scenario 1: The 5-year MOP is not satisfied

 

If you get divorced before the MOP is completed, the flat will have to be returned to HDB at the prevailing compensation price, subject to HDB’s approval. However, it is possible for parties to make an appeal to HDB to sell the flat in the open market even though the MOP is not yet reached. HDB will consider such appeals on a case-by-case basis. If the appeal is successful, the parties may sell the HDB flat in the open market.

 

Another possibility is simply for parties to wait for the 5-year MOP to pass before they obtain the divorce, if they believe that doing so makes greater financial sense and the marriage relationship is not so acrimonious that obtaining a divorce is urgent.

 

Scenario 2: The 5-year MOP is satisfied

 

If you and your spouse are able to meet the MOP, then you will be allowed to sell the HDB flat in the open market. The sale proceeds will first go toward the repayment of any outstanding mortgage loans and the reimbursement of CPF monies used for financing the purchase of the HDB flat, with accrued interest.

 

As for the remaining sale proceeds, there are 2 ways for parties to decide on how the balance should be divided between parties and in what proportions:

 

  • If parties are able to come to a mutual agreement, they can jointly decide on what proportions the HDB flat should be divided and dealt with; or
  • If parties cannot come to a mutual agreement, they can leave it to the Court to decide on how the HDB flat should be divided in a just and equitable manner.

 

  • You and your spouse decide on how the HDB flat will be dealt with

 

In a divorce, you and your spouse have the right to discuss and negotiate between yourselves and make a joint decision on how you wish to divide and deal with your assets, including your HDB flat.

 

There are various arrangements that you may consider. First, it is possible for one spouse to transfer their interest in the property to the other spouse for a certain sum, to allow the spouse to continue living in the flat, provided the HDB’s eligibility conditions are met. Another possible scenario is for parties to agree to sell the HDB flat in the open market and share the sale proceeds between themselves.

 

During the divorce proceedings, the Court will record you and your spouse’s agreed arrangement for the HDB flat in a court decision. However, if the divorce has been particularly acrimonious and parties are unable to work together to agree on how to divide the HDB flat, they may leave this matter to the Court to decide.  

 

  • Allow the Court to divide the HDB flat between spouses in a “just and equitable manner”

 

Under the Women’s Charter, if you get divorced in Singapore, the Court will have the power to divide all your matrimonial assets in a just and equitable manner between you and your spouse.

 

In most circumstances, your HDB flat will be considered to be a matrimonial asset and will be divided upon divorce. Section 112(10) of the Women’s Charter defines matrimonial assets to include any assets acquired during the marriage by one or both parties. If the asset was acquired before marriage, it would still be considered to be a matrimonial asset if it meets either of the following criteria:

 

  • The asset was ordinarily used or enjoyed by both parties or one or more of their children while the parties are residing together for shelter or transportation or for household, education, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes; or

 

  • The asset has been substantially improved during the marriage by the other party or by both parties to the marriage.

 

This means that in the situation where one spouse received the HDB flat as a gift or as an inheritance before the marriage, the HDB flat does not immediately count as a matrimonial asset. Only where the HDB flat was being used as the matrimonial home for the family or was substantially improved during the marriage by one or both spouses, does it become a matrimonial asset subject to division by the Court.

 

Once the court has determined that the HDB flat is a matrimonial asset, it will proceed to divide the property in a just and equitable manner by looking at various factors.

 

After determining the share of the HDB flat between spouses, the Court will also make orders on how the HDB flat should be dealt with. The Court may order one spouse to transfer their interest in the property to the other spouse for a certain sum or for parties to sell the HDB flat in the open market and share the sale proceeds according to the decided proportion.

 

 

Getting a divorce while living overseas

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divorce

Introduction

 

Singapore is a very global city and its citizens have no lack of opportunities overseas. It is increasingly common for couples who were married in Singapore to migrate to other countries for a variety of reasons, whether professional or personal. However, marriages don’t always work out and the couple who has moved overseas may wish to file for divorce. This article explains how one may do so.

 

Applying for divorce overseas

 

If you were married in Singapore, but intend to file for divorce in another country, you will need to obtain a foreign divorce order by fulfilling that country’s legal requirements for divorce. In addition, the court granting the foreign divorce order must have competent jurisdiction.

 

Next, the foreign divorce order needs to be recognised in Singapore for the marriage to be dissolved. The foreign divorce order will be recognised if any one of the three grounds are met:

  • Where the foreign divorce order was granted by a court of the domicile of either spouse;
  • Where the foreign divorce order was granted by a court which exercised jurisdiction on the same basis that a Singapore court would have; or
  • Where there is a real and sufficient connection between the court which granted the foreign divorce order and either spouse.

 

Meeting any one of the three grounds will result in the dissolution of the marriage in Singapore. Parties to the marriage may then proceed with resolving ancillary matters, such as child custody, maintenance, and division of matrimonial assets.

 

If you wish to file for divorce overseas and your spouse files for divorce in Singapore

 

There may be situations where you have started divorce proceedings overseas, but your spouse commences separate divorce proceedings in Singapore. The spouse will likely choose to do so if he or she believes that they can get a more desirable outcome under the matrimonial laws of Singapore.

 

In response, you may wish to apply for a stay of proceedings in Singapore, which, if allowed, would suspend the divorce proceedings in Singapore. In deciding whether your stay application should be granted, the court will consider various factors such as where your children live, and the location of your assets.

 

A successful application will allow you to continue with the foreign divorce proceedings.

 

 

If you are living overseas but wish to file for divorce in Singapore

You may only file for divorce in Singapore if the Singapore court has jurisdiction to hear your case.

 

The Singapore court will have jurisdiction to hear your divorce only if either you or your spouse is:

  • Domiciled in Singapore at the time of commencement of the divorce proceedings; or
  • Habitually resident in Singapore for a period of three years immediately preceding the commencement of the divorce proceedings.

 

Domicile is a legal concept which refers to the place where a person intends to reside permanently and is used to link an individual to a particular jurisdiction. A party is presumed to be domiciled in Singapore if he or she is a Singapore citizen, unless the contrary is proven.

 

Furthermore, you should check if your spouse has filed for divorce overseas. If so, you may need to apply to the foreign court to stay the divorce proceedings and at the same time make sure that the Singapore divorce proceedings are not stayed.

 

In order to have a quick divorce, it is best that you and your spouse agree on the divorce and all ancillary issues.  Our lawyers can explain more when you meet them for a free consultation. 

 

If successful, you will be able to continue with the Singapore divorce proceedings to have your marriage dissolved. 

 

If you have any queries, please contact Quick Divorce at 6854-3111.