Divorce can be an emotionally challenging and legally complex process that couples may have to navigate through when their marriages go south, especially if both parties cannot agree on matters related to the split.
Before you file any divorce papers, it is important to understand which divorce path you’d like to embark on: contested or uncontested. We share about the differences between contested and uncontested divorce in Singapore to help you make informed decisions and proceed with confidence.
What is a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce refers to a situation where spouses are unable to reach an agreement on key issues surrounding their divorce, such as the reason for divorce, child custody, division of assets, spousal maintenance, and more. Disagreements on any one issue will lead to a contested divorce, which is usually much more complicated and expensive compared to uncontested ones. A divorce will also be contested if either one spouse wishes to stay married.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce, or simplified divorce, happens when both spouses agree to end their marriage and can mutually resolve all related matters without getting the court involved. It is a more amicable and streamlined process compared to contested divorces, and can be significantly faster and less costly.
Difference in their Procedures
Both contested and uncontested divorce cases have to go through two stages: the dissolution of marriage for an interim judgement, and the second stage of ancillary matters.
During the first stage, either spouse must file a number of divorce papers in the Family Justice Courts. Once these documents are accepted for filing, a copy must be served on the other spouse to notify him or her that divorce proceedings have begun in court. The divorce case goes down the contested route if the other spouse ignores the divorce papers or files a Memorandum of Appearance and a Defence to contest any issue relating to the divorce.
Following that, both parties will have to attend a pre-trial conference or mediation to see if a settlement is possible. If it fails, the divorcing couple will have to meet in court stating reasons for the court to dissolve the marriage, submit evidence or call witnesses to the stand to give more information regarding the marriage. The court will only grant an interim judgement and proceed to the ancillary matters stage if it is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Similarly, divorcing parties may be asked to go for counselling or mediation to come to an agreement on ancillary matters such as child custody and care and control, splitting of matrimonial assets, and more. If unsuccessful, they’ll have to file an Affidavit of Assets and Means outlining the assets and liabilities they have, and the contributions they’ve each made to the marriage. The court will then decide on all ancillary matters at a hearing.
We recommend engaging a contested divorce lawyer to help you get through the complexities of Singapore’s legal procedures if you’re experiencing difficulties agreeing on issues with your spouse and would like to proceed with the divorce.
If parties choose to go through an uncontested divorce, they’ll simply have to file a Request for Setting Down Action for Trial to notify the court that they would like their divorce to be heard on an uncontested basis, and if applicable, file an Agreed Parenting Plan and an Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan. The marriage will then be dissolved if the court is satisfied that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
If you’re wondering how long an uncontested divorce in Singapore will take, it can usually conclude within as quickly as three months. On the other hand, contested divorces may drag on for up to a few years.
There are many legal procedures to navigate and important documents to file in a divorce case, even if you want to be heard on an uncontested basis. Regardless of your reason for divorce, hiring a divorce lawyer can be helpful.
The team at Family Law Specialists can offer you with legal assistance you need. Contact us today.
FAQ related to divorce
An uncontested divorce is a simplified divorce proceeding where both parties agree to the divorce and all ancillary matters. Ancillary matters relate primarily to:-
(a) Custody, care and control of the children of the marriage
(b) Access to the children of the marriage (for the parent without care and control)
(c) Maintenance of the children of the marriage
(d)Maintenance of the wife/incapacitated husband
(e) Division of the matrimonial home
(f) Division of the matrimonial assets
Once all of the above has been agreed, an Interim Judgment setting out all the ancillary terms will be issued after 4 weeks and thereafter a Final Judgment will be granted 3 months after the date of the Interim Judgment.