Issues in a Contentious Divorce in Singapore

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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.