Getting a divorce while living overseas






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.