In Singapore, when a married couple faces irreconcilable differences and decides to separate, they have several legal options to consider. One such option is a “Deed of Separation.” This deed is a legally enforceable agreement that delineates the specifics of the separation, encompassing crucial aspects such as dividing the matrimonial assets, child custody arrangements, and financial obligations.
We will delve into the intricacies of the Deed of Separation, its significance in the context of divorce and separation in Singapore, and the key considerations involved.
Here are some things you should know about how a Deed of Separation works:
What Is A Deed Of Separation?
When a husband and wife are preparing for the possibility of a Divorce and they are (or will be) separated (i.e. living in separate households), a document known as a Deed of Separation may be prepared to help them set out the key facts and terms which they have both willingly agreed to in relation to the breakdown of their marriage and how their Ancillary Matters (e.g. maintenance, division of matrimonial assets, children) will be dealt with in the event that the parties obtains a Divorce, such as the following:
- The relationship / marriage has irretrievably broken down
- The commencement / start date of the separation (i.e. the date on which the parties first separated or began to live in separate households)
- How the ongoing separation will take place and be managed in relation to the following:
- The parties’ living and financial arrangements
- The children’s’ living, access and financial arrangements
- How much maintenance will be paid to the wife and children
- How the couple’s matrimonial assets and properties will be divided
- How the couple’s debts will be paid
- How the couple’s children will be cared for (e.g. Custody, Care and Control, Access)
- Whether either party may obtain a Divorce through uncontested Divorce Proceedings and Ancillary Proceedings when the 3 years’ or 4 years’ separation period has been completed
A Deed of Separation can provide for the terms to be revised and renegotiated (e.g. if there is a material change in the parties’ circumstances) This also helps to ensure that the terms of the Deed of Separation remain relevant and pragmatic and are capable of being complied with over time
Will The Deed Of Separation Be Recognised By The Court?
A Deed of Separation is an agreement that can be legally binding on the parties and recognised by the Court. While a Deed of Separation is a legally binding document, it does not undergo formal Court proceedings or requires a Court order for its creation. Instead, it is typically a result of mutual agreement and consent between the parties involved.
In deciding how much weight will be given to the Deed of Separation during Divorce Proceedings, the Court will consider whether or not:
- Whether the parties had willingly entered into the Deed / agreement (i.e. without duress, undue influence)
- Whether the parties fully understood the terms of the Deed / agreement (i.e. without mistake, misrepresentation or fraud)
- Whether the terms and arrangements contained in the Deed / agreement are fair and reasonable to the parties (i.e. not biassed, unfair)
What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Having A Deed Of Separation?
As the parties may be separating for some time before a Divorce is actually obtained, a Deed of Separation helps to set clear rules as to how the couple’s living and financial arrangements during the ongoing separation will be managed
This helps to reduce potential issues of dispute from arising and minimise the likelihood of disagreements between the parties during the ongoing separation. By doing so, the Deed of Separation can help to reduce the likelihood of unhappiness or ill feeling between the parties when they later start divorce proceedings
The Deed of Separation also helps to clarify and confirm when 3 years’ or 4 years’ of separation will start and finish so that the parties may proceed to rely on the separation as a grounds for the Divorce at the appropriate time
Although the parties may need to spend time and effort on reaching an agreement in the Deed of Separation as to how the Ancillary Matters will be dealt with (even before Divorce Proceedings are even started), this may ultimately help save time and costs because the Deed of Separation can be used to clearly set out that the terms of the Divorce and exactly how the Ancillary Matters will be dealt with.
For example, the Deed of Separation may state that the parties agree that either one of them may obtain an uncontested Divorce after the relevant separation period has been completedIn addition, the Deed of Separation may set out exactly how all the Ancillary Matters (e.g. maintenance, division of matrimonial assets, children) will be dealt with and this would eliminate the need or likelihood of contested Ancillary Proceedings
Conclusion About The Deed Of Separation In Singapore
In separation and divorce, understanding the options available and the legal implications is crucial for couples navigating the complexities of such situations. While an informal separation may be an option for some, formalising the separation through a Deed of Separation or divorce proceedings can provide clarity, legal protection, and a structured framework for the separation process.
A Deed of Separation offers couples the opportunity to live separately while remaining legally married. It addresses critical aspects such as child custody, division of matrimonial assets, and financial arrangements.
However, it is essential to recognise that a Deed of Separation is not equivalent to a Court order, and should disputes arise, the Court has the authority to intervene and make decisions based on relevant laws and circumstances.
Contesting the terms outlined in a separation deed or agreement may require the Court’s involvement. The Court plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the legal process, resolving disputes, and ensuring the best interests of all parties, especially children, are protected.
Seeking guidance from an experienced family lawyer is crucial in navigating the complex legal landscape and presenting a compelling case.
If you are facing separation or divorce and need expert legal advice, schedule a free consultation with The Singapore Family Lawyer. We offer the necessary expertise and guidance to navigate the legal aspects of separation and divorce.
Take the first step towards a fair resolution by talking to one of our specialists today.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Deed Of Separation
Is A Deed Of Separation Legally Binding Without Involving The Court?
Yes, a Deed of Separation is a legally binding document in the context of separation. It is a formal agreement entered into voluntarily by both parties involved.
While it does not require Court involvement to be valid, it is advisable to seek legal advice and engage the services of experienced lawyers to ensure that the document is appropriately executed and adheres to the relevant legal requirements.
Can A Deed Of Separation Be Used As Evidence In Divorce Proceedings?
Yes, a Deed of Separation can be used as evidence in divorce proceedings. The terms and conditions outlined in the document provide valuable information for the Court when making decisions related to child custody, division of assets, and financial arrangements.
However, it is important to note that the Court retains jurisdiction and has the authority to make its own determinations based on the circumstances of the case.
Can The Terms Of A Deed Of Separation Be Modified Or Amended?
Yes, the terms of a Deed of Separation can be modified or amended if both parties agree to the changes. In situations where circumstances change, or there is a mutual desire to revise the terms, seeking legal advice and consulting with experienced family lawyers is advisable.
They can assist in documenting the modifications or amendments to ensure that they are properly recorded and legally enforceable.
Can A Deed Of Separation Be Revoked Or Terminated?
Yes, a Deed of Separation can be revoked or terminated if both parties agree to do so. It is important to note that revoking or terminating a Deed of Separation does not automatically result in a divorce.
If reconciliation is not the objective, parties may consider initiating divorce proceedings after revoking or terminating the Deed of Separation.
Is A Deed Of Separation Necessary Before Filing For Divorce In Singapore?
No, a Deed of Separation is not mandatory before filing for divorce in Singapore. However, it can serve as a useful tool to establish the terms and conditions of the separation, especially when parties are amicable and wish to have a structured framework in place. Consulting with experienced family lawyers can help determine whether a Deed of Separation is beneficial in a specific case.
Can A Deed Of Separation Be Used To Protect Assets Acquired After Separation?
While a Deed of Separation primarily addresses assets acquired during the marriage, it can also include provisions regarding assets acquired after separation if both parties agree to include such terms in the agreement. Consulting with experienced family lawyers is crucial to ensure that the provisions adequately protect the rights and interests of the parties involved.
Can A Deed Of Separation Be Enforced If One Party Breaches The Terms?
If one party breaches the terms outlined in a Deed of Separation, the other party can seek legal recourse through the Court.
The Court can enforce the terms of the agreement and take appropriate actions to remedy the breach. It is important to consult with experienced family lawyers in such situations to understand the available options and navigate the legal process effectively.
Can A Deed Of Separation Help Parties Stay Separated Without Proceeding With A Divorce?
Yes, a Deed of Separation can provide a legal framework for parties to stay separated without proceeding with a divorce. It allows them to live apart while remaining legally married. This can be particularly beneficial when parties still need to be ready to dissolve the marriage or wish to maintain certain legal rights and benefits associated with the marital status.