Contested vs uncontested divorce proceedings RAJAN CHETTIAR is the founder and director of Rajan Chettiar LLC and specialises in family law, collaborative family law and mediation. If the relationship is relatively amicable, clients often want uncontested divorces, explains Rajan. It’s easiest for all involved, and happens when the couple reaches agreement on the divorce and associated matters such as custody of children, maintenance and division of matrimonial assets. The family lawyer then draws up the papers and obtains an uncontested divorce for the couple within four to five months from the filing date. The other type of uncontested divorce is when a couple can’t reach full agreement. They file for divorce in the Singapore court and attend a mediation in court to reach an agreement on the divorce and ancillary matters. The usual timeframe for this type of uncontested divorce is around six months from the date of filing. Contested divorce is when the divorce and the ancillary matters are in dispute. Often, contested divorces become uncontested through court mediation. However, many couples can’t agree on custody, maintenance and division of assets, so the matter goes to a contested hearing. This process involves collating documents, filing three rounds of Affidavits and preparing for the hearing (which is only attended by the lawyers). You can expect this process to take up to one year to reach conclusion.

Grounds for divorce in Singapore

In Singapore, divorce proceedings involve two stages, explains SARAH-MAE THOMAS, a Singapore- and Australia-qualified lawyer, and Managing Director of Sarah-Mae Thomas LLC. The firm specialises in family law and juvenile matters, with an international focus. First, the court will deal with the termination of the marriage; and then, the court will deal with ancillary matters such as custody, care and control, access, spouse or child maintenance, division of assets and costs. The key law that governs divorce in Singapore is known as The Women’s Charter 1961 , which provides that either party to a marriage may file a writ for divorce on the ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To do this, you must substantiate one of five scenarios. These include: #1 Adultery – where one finds it intolerable to live with another #2 Unreasonable behaviour, such as violence #3 Desertion for a continuous period of at least two years #4 Separation for a continuous period of three years, provided the other party agrees to the divorce #5 Separation for a continuous period of four years “There ’s been an exc i t ing recent development in Singapore family law,” says Sarah-Mae, referring to some amendments to the law which propose that parties soon might be allowed to divorce by “mutual agreement”. It has yet to be announced when these amendments will come into effect. This is a concept where both parties are willing to divorce even if no fault was made by either person. However, the court will still have the ultimate power to decide whether to terminate the marriage.

Rajan Chettiar LLC #08-08 High Street Centre, 1 North Bridge Road 6533 6451 |

Sarah-Mae Thomas LLC #08-168 The Central (Soho 2) , 12 Eu Tong Sen Street 6011 6767 |


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