How To Get A Divorce By Mutual Agreement In Singapore

by | Jun 18, 2024 | Knowledge & Insights

Navigating the Divorce process in Singapore can be challenging, but understanding the options available can make it smoother.

In 2023, Singapore introduced the Divorce by mutual agreement law to streamline amicable Divorce, enhancing accessibility for couples wishing to separate harmoniously. This sixth ground for Divorce is less stressful, more efficient and cost-effective than contested Divorces.

This legal framework minimises conflict and encourages a cooperative approach to resolving marital issues, including asset division, child custody and maintenance agreements.

It also aims to introduce “therapeutic justice” into the family justice system, aiming not to diminish the sanctity of marriage but to alleviate animosity and shield children from the detrimental effects of their parents’ acrimonious disputes.

This guide will delve into what Divorce by mutual agreement in Singapore entails, including its benefits, eligibility criteria and the step-by-step process.

Understanding Divorce By Mutual Agreement In Singapore

Divorce is a challenging journey for anyone to embark on. In Singapore, the process is guided by specific laws and frameworks designed to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Among the various ways to dissolve a marriage, Divorce by mutual agreement is a pathway that encourages amicability and understanding between partners.

Definition And Legal Framework Of Mutual Agreement Divorce In Singapore

Divorce by mutual agreement in Singapore is a legal process where both spouses agree to end their marriage and settle all related matters, such as child custody, division of assets and maintenance, without the need for contentious Court battles.

This type of Divorce is rooted in the understanding that both parties are willing to work together to conclude their marriage respectfully and cooperatively.

The legal framework for mutual agreement Divorces in Singapore is established under the Women’s Charter, a comprehensive legislation governing marriage and Divorce in the country.

Under this charter, a mutual agreement Divorce is acknowledged as a legitimate and legal means to dissolve a marriage, provided the couple can agree on all terms of their separation.

Key Legislation Governing Divorce In Singapore (Focus On Mutual Agreement)

In 2023, Singapore passed updates to the Women’s Charter, emphasising the importance of amicable Divorce proceedings and introducing measures to support couples opting for a Divorce by mutual agreement.

These updates aim to streamline the Divorce process, reduce the emotional and financial strain on families and encourage a collaborative approach to separation.

The legislation requires that couples seeking a mutual agreement Divorce must first go through a mandatory mediation process.

This step ensures that both parties have a fair chance to voice their concerns and reach an agreement on all aspects of their Divorce, including sensitive issues like child custody arrangements and financial support.

Benefits Of Opting For A Mutual Agreement Divorce

Choosing a Divorce by mutual agreement in Singapore brings several significant advantages:

1. Reduced Emotional Stress

Mutual agreement Divorces are generally less contentious, reducing the emotional stress and conflict involved in the dissolution of a marriage.

2. Lower Costs

Since both parties agree on the terms, there’s less need for prolonged legal battles, making mutual agreement Divorces often less costly than contested ones.

3. Privacy And Control

Couples have more privacy and control over the outcome, allowing them to make decisions that best suit their unique circumstances without direct Court intervention.

4. Amicable Post-Divorce Relationship

Focusing on cooperation helps maintain a more amicable relationship post-Divorce, which is beneficial, especially when children are involved.

5. Personalised Arrangements

The opportunity for more personalised and satisfactory arrangements is available since decisions are made by the individuals involved, considering their unique situation.

By opting for a mutual agreement Divorce, couples in Singapore can navigate the end of their marriage with dignity and respect, facilitating a healthier transition into their new lives apart.

Eligibility Criteria For Divorce By Mutual Agreement

Couples must meet specific eligibility criteria to pursue a Divorce by mutual agreement in Singapore.

These criteria are designed to ensure that the decision to Divorce is considered carefully and that both parties agree on key issues.

Understanding these requirements can help couples navigate the process more smoothly.

Basic Legal Requirements For Divorce In Singapore

Before couples can consider a Divorce by mutual agreement, they must first meet the basic legal prerequisites established under Singapore’s family law:

1. Minimum Marriage Duration: Couples must have been married for at least three years before they can file for Divorce. However, exceptions may be made in cases of exceptional hardship or cruelty.

2. Residency: At least one party must be domiciled (regard Singapore as their permanent home) in Singapore at the start of the Divorce proceedings.

Alternatively, either spouse must have resided in Singapore for at least three years immediately before the filing.

Specific Conditions For Mutual Agreement Divorce

Beyond the basic legal requirements, there are conditions specific to Divorces filed under the mutual agreement:

1. Irretrievable Breakdown Of Marriage: Both parties must agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This consensus is crucial for the mutual agreement route.

2. Settlement On Matrimonial Issues: There must be a comprehensive agreement on all ancillary issues, including but not limited to the division of matrimonial assets, child custody arrangements, and child and spousal support. The agreement must be fair and reasonable to both parties and any children of the marriage.

3. Mediation And Counseling: The couple must attend mediation and counselling sessions if minor children are involved. These sessions aim to ensure that decisions regarding the welfare of the children are made in their best interests.

Common Misunderstandings About Eligibility And How To Avoid Them

Several misconceptions can complicate the Divorce process for couples. Here are some common misunderstandings and tips on how to avoid them:

1. Immediate Eligibility Post-Marriage: Many couples are unaware of the three-year marriage requirement and attempt to file for Divorce prematurely. Waiting until you meet the minimum duration can save time and legal expenses.

2. Assuming Agreement On All Issues: Even if both parties agree to a Divorce, there must be a consensus on all ancillary matters. Before filing, thoroughly discuss and document agreements on assets, custody and support to prevent future disputes.

3. Overlooking The Importance Of Mediation: Some couples skip mediation, thinking it unnecessary. However, mediation is a critical step, especially for couples with children, as it ensures that the welfare of the children is prioritised.

Understanding these eligibility criteria and common misunderstandings can help couples prepare more effectively for a Divorce by mutual agreement, ensuring a smoother process for all involved.

The Process Of Filing For Divorce By Mutual Agreement

Filing for Divorce by mutual agreement in Singapore involves several steps that need careful consideration and cooperation between spouses.

This process not only facilitates a smoother legal procedure but also ensures that both parties agree on the terms of their separation.

1. Decision And Agreement: Both spouses must mutually agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that Divorce is the desired course of action.
2. Consultation With A Lawyer: Although not mandatory, consulting with a lawyer experienced in family law can provide valuable guidance on your rights and the necessary steps.
3. Mediation: If you have minor children, attend mandatory mediation sessions to discuss and resolve issues concerning child welfare, including custody and support. This step aims to reach an amicable agreement that serves the children’s best interests.
4. Drafting The Agreement: Together, draft a comprehensive agreement covering all aspects of the Divorce, including asset division, child custody, maintenance and any other relevant issues.
5. Filing For Divorce: Once the agreement is in place, file a writ for Divorce along with your statement of claim and proposed parenting plan (if applicable) at the Family Justice Courts. The mutual agreement and its terms should be clearly outlined in these documents.
6. Court Approval: The Court will review the documents to ensure the agreement is fair and in the children’s best interests.
If satisfied, the Court will grant an interim judgement, followed by a final judgement three months later, officially dissolving the marriage.

Documentation Needed For A Mutual Agreement Divorce

To ensure a smooth filing process, you will need the following documents:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Identity cards or passports of both parties
  • Birth certificates of any children
  • Details of matrimonial assets and liabilities
  • Any existing prenuptial agreements
  • The drafted agreement on asset division, child custody and maintenance

How To Draft A Memorandum Of Understanding For Asset Distribution, Child Custody, Etc.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a crucial document in mutual agreement Divorces. It outlines all agreements made between the spouses regarding their Divorce.

Here’s how to draft one:

1. Introduction: Start with a brief introduction of both parties and their intention to Divorce amicably.
2. Asset Distribution: List all matrimonial assets and liabilities. Outline how these will be divided, including specific details like percentages, amounts, or how the valuation will be determined.
3. Child Custody And Support: Detail the agreed-upon custody arrangements, visitation schedules and support payments. Highlight how decisions regarding the child’s welfare, education and health will be made.
4. Spousal Maintenance: If applicable, describe the terms of spousal maintenance, including the amount and duration of payments.
5. Other Agreements: Include any other agreements made between the spouses, such as wills, insurance policies, or joint business arrangements.
6. Signature: Both parties must sign the MOU, ideally in the presence of a witness or their respective lawyers.
Creating a clear and detailed MOU is essential for preventing misunderstandings and ensuring that the agreement is fair and comprehensive.
It’s advisable to have legal assistance when drafting this document to ensure that all legal aspects are correctly addressed.

Financial Considerations Of Mutual Agreement Divorce

Managing the financial aspects of a Divorce by mutual agreement in Singapore requires careful planning and negotiation.

This section covers the essentials of financial settlements, strategies for negotiating financial agreements and the roles of mediators and lawyers in these discussions.

Overview Of Financial Settlements

Financial settlements in a Divorce encompass the division of assets, maintenance (or alimony) and child support. These settlements aim to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of the marital estate and provide for the ongoing needs of children from the marriage.

1. Division Of Assets: This includes all assets acquired during the marriage, such as property, investments and savings.
The division aims to be equitable, considering factors like the contribution of each spouse to the family’s welfare and any prenuptial agreements.
2. Maintenance: Maintenance for a spouse is determined based on the recipient’s needs, the payer’s financial capacity and the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
On the other hand, child support focuses on covering the child’s living expenses, education and healthcare needs.
3. Debts: Responsibility for any debts incurred during the marriage must also be addressed, with the aim of dividing them fairly and sustainably for both parties.
Lawyers are invaluable in advising on legal rights and obligations concerning financial settlements.
They can clarify complex financial matters, draft detailed agreements that reflect the negotiated terms and ensure that the agreement complies with Singaporean law.
Lawyers can also represent their clients’ interests during negotiations, ensuring that the financial settlement is fair and equitable.

Children’s Welfare In Mutual Agreement Divorces

In Divorces by mutual agreement in Singapore, the welfare of any children involved takes precedence.

Ensuring the emotional well-being of children and securing their future becomes a paramount concern for parents navigating through Divorce.

This section explores how parents can prioritise their children’s needs and arrange for custody and visitation rights to serve the children’s best interests.

1. Open Communication: Maintain an age-appropriate dialogue with children about the changes in the family. Ensure they understand they are not to blame for the Divorce and that both parents will continue to love and support them.
2. Stability: Try to minimise disruptions to the children’s daily routines. Consistency in living arrangements, schooling and social activities can provide security during the transitional period.
3. Emotional Support: Children may benefit from counselling or therapy to help them process their feelings about the Divorce. Encourage them to express their thoughts and emotions and reassure them that feeling upset or confused is okay.
4. Unified Parenting: Despite the Divorce, presenting a united front on parenting decisions is crucial. Consistency in rules, discipline and love ensures the child feels secure and supported by both parents.

Arranging For Child Custody And Visitation Rights

In mutual agreement Divorces, the emphasis on children’s welfare underscores the importance of making decisions that prioritise the well-being and happiness of children above all else.

Here are some tips when arranging for child custody and visitation rights:

1. Types Of Custody: Singapore law recognises several custody arrangements, including sole custody, joint custody and hybrid arrangements. Decide on the type of custody that allows both parents to play active roles in their children’s lives, depending on your unique circumstances.
2. Visitation Rights: Work out a detailed visitation schedule considering the child’s school and activity schedules, holidays and special occasions. The goal is to ensure the child maintains a strong relationship with both parents.
3. Flexibility: Be prepared to adjust custody and visitation arrangements as children grow and their needs change. What works for a young child may not be suitable for a teenager.
4. Legal And Emotional Considerations: When drafting custody agreements, consider the legal implications and the emotional impact on the children. The agreement should reflect the children’s best interests, ensuring their physical and emotional needs are met.
5. Professional Guidance: Utilising the services of family counsellors or mediators can help parents navigate the complexities of arranging for child custody and visitation.
These professionals can offer valuable insights into creating a parenting plan for the children’s best interests.
By focusing on open communication, stability and collaborative parenting, parents can help mitigate the impact of Divorce on their children and foster a supportive environment for them to thrive.

Conclusion About Divorce By Mutual Agreement In Singapore

Navigating a Divorce by mutual agreement in Singapore demands a thorough understanding of the process, a commitment to cooperation and an unwavering focus on the well-being of all involved, especially children.

This journey, while challenging, offers a pathway to resolving matrimonial issues with dignity, respect and mutual understanding.

The comprehensive overview provided in this guide highlights the essential steps, considerations and legal requirements to ensure that your journey through Divorce is as smooth and amicable as possible.

The significance of seeking professional advice cannot be overstated. Lawyers, mediators and counsellors play pivotal roles in guiding couples through the complexities of Divorce, from legalities to emotional support.

Their expertise facilitates a more informed and fair process and helps maintain a positive outlook towards the future.

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce By Mutual Agreement In Singapore

Can The Terms Of The Divorce By Mutual Agreement Be Changed After The Divorce Is Finalised?

Yes, the terms of the Divorce agreement, particularly those relating to child custody, child support and spousal maintenance, can be modified after the Divorce is finalised.

This is usually done through an application to the Court, and changes are considered if there is a significant change in circumstances warranting the modification.

How Long Does A Mutual Agreement Divorce Take To Be Finalised In Singapore?

The duration of a mutual agreement Divorce in Singapore depends on the case’s complexity and how quickly both parties can agree on all aspects of the Divorce, including financial settlements and child custody arrangements.

Once the Divorce papers are filed, a simplified uncontested Divorce can take around 4 to 6 months to be finalised after the Interim Judgment is granted, which includes a mandatory 3-month waiting period before the Final Judgment.

Is Mediation Mandatory In A Mutual Agreement Divorce?

In Singapore, mediation is mandatory for divorcing couples who have minor children and are unable to agree on terms concerning the children or property disputes.

However, if both parties have already reached a mutual agreement on all Divorce terms, including arrangements for children and division of assets, they may not be required to undergo mediation.

Can A Mutual Agreement Divorce Be Reversed Or Appealed In Singapore?

Once the Final Judgement of Divorce is issued, the Divorce is final and cannot be reversed. However, if one party believes there was a mistake in the legal process, fraud, or coercion in reaching the agreement, they may have grounds to appeal the decision.

Appeals must be filed within a specific time frame after the Final Judgment is granted and are generally limited to legal errors or issues not considered by the Court.

It’s crucial to seek legal advice if considering an appeal, as the process is complex and subject to strict rules and deadlines.

Is It Necessary For Both Parties To Have Separate Lawyers In A Mutual Agreement Divorce?

While it’s legally permissible for both parties to be represented by the same lawyer, it’s highly recommended that each party hires their own lawyer.

This ensures that the interests of both parties are independently represented and that the agreement reached is fair and equitable to both sides.

Separate legal representation helps prevent conflicts of interest and ensures that both parties fully understand their rights and obligations under the agreement.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.