The Fundamentals of Commencing a Divorce in Singapore

Kariuki Maina
By Kariuki Maina 11 Min Read

The formal process that dissolves a marriage is called a divorce. You must submit a divorce petition to the Family Justice Courts (civil marriages) or the Syariah Court in order to obtain a divorce (Muslim marriages).

The irretrievable collapse of the marriage, which is defined in Section 95 of the Women’s Charter, is the only basis for divorce in Singapore. You must be able to demonstrate one of the five facts listed in Section 95(3) of the Women’s Charter to the Court in order to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Civil Divorces

You must submit a divorce petition to the Family Justice Courts and follow all divorce-related legal criteria in order to obtain a divorce. The Women’s Charter governs Singapore’s divorce laws for civil unions.

Divorcing parents with minor children under the age of 14 (to include children under the age of 21 at a later phase), who disagree on divorce and ancillary matters, will need to attend a mandatory parenting program before they can file for divorce in order to better protect the interests of the children impacted by their parents’ divorce. The workshop will cover a variety of topics that might have an impact on their children, such as housing, finances, child care, and effective co-parenting following divorce.

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Muslim Divorces

You must apply at the Syariah Court (SYC) and adhere to the Administration of Muslim Law Act’s procedures if you want to get a divorce (AMLA). Divorce applicants must undergo marriage counseling at one of the counseling centers designated by SYC.

The afflicted spouses, their children, their relatives, and the society at large may all suffer as a result of the divorce. Islam thus opposes divorce.

Syariah Court (SYC)

Couples will be obliged to attend mediation if, following counseling, they decide to move through with divorce. The goal is to assist couples in amicably resolving the ancillary difficulties. In the event that the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the Court sets a hearing and, in accordance with the requirements of (AMLA).

Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs)

In response to the Family Justice Committee’s suggestion, the Ministry designated four DSSAs in January 2015 to offer services and programs that would assist and care for divorced and divorcing families. DSSA employees have specialized knowledge to deal with divorce-related concerns.

Child-Centric Approach

With a strong child-centric approach, DSSA services and programmes help parents:

  • Make an informed decision on divorce
  • Come to terms with the divorce
  • Be equipped with positive co-parenting skills
  • Resolve underlying conflicts in the best interests of the child
  • Learn skills to manage challenges that may result from divorce

Services and Programmes

The DSSAs provide services such as:

  • information and non-legal advice on divorce-related financial and housing issues
  • case management
  • counselling
  • family dispute management
  • support on child access
  • support groups

They also conduct programs that are supported by research to assist parents and kids in adjusting to changes in the family unit.

DSSA Programmes

The programs offered by Divorce Support Specialist Agencies have a child-centered approach. Specialist counselors and social workers provide these programs to help divorcing and divorced families comprehend the effects of divorce on children.

A. Mandatory Parenting Programme 

Before filing for divorce, parents with minor children can have a one-on-one meeting through the Mandatory Parenting Programme. Its goal is to persuade divorcing families to make thoughtful decisions that put the welfare of their children first.

Counselors from Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) will be present for this two-hour program. If they do not have a formal written agreement related to a parenting plan and all other divorce proceedings, all parents of minor children are required under the Women’s Charter Section 94A to attend this class.

The consultation aims to help parents understand:

  • the financial challenges of divorce
  • how divorce impacts living arrangements
  • child custody and access
  • the importance of co-parenting and having a parenting plan

B. Parenting PACT 

For divorcing parents with kids under 21 years old, Parenting PACT is a one-time consulting session.

he session aims to help parents:

  • understand the impact of divorce on their children,
  • learn cooperative co-parenting strategies
  • practise self-care, and
  • get more information about the community support resources available

Family counselors from the Divorce Support Specialist Agencies will lead this two-hour program.

Divorced parents who are ordered by the courts to participate in this parenting program will get a notice in the mail inviting them to Parenting PACT.

C. Children in Between (CiB)

A program called Children in Between is designed for families with kids aged 6 to under 15 years old.

CiB offers workshops on the following subjects for both parents and kids:

CiB for Parents CiB for Children
Practical Co-parenting skills Positive ways to cope with their parents’ divorce
Ways to reduce parental conflict Exploring feelings and fears, myths and truths
Understanding the needs of their children in a divorce situation Skills to share their feelings

Family counselors from the Divorce Support Specialist Agencies are in charge of this free program.

Separate attendance at the workshops by parents and their kids is encouraged.

D. Supervised Exchange & Visitation Programme

The Supervised Exchange and Visitation Programme assists families in high conflict situations in resolving issues pertaining to child access. For kids who indicate extreme hesitation and uneasiness about meeting their access parent, it offers a secure environment. Counselors assist by reducing mistrust and addressing the intricate family relationships. As a stopgap measure, supervised exchange and visitation helps families progress toward unsupervised kid access. The ultimate objective is to support parents in successfully co-parenting and developing long-lasting, secure parent-child connections without compromising the child’s perception of their own physical and emotional safety.

The Supervised Exchange and Visitation Programme is provided by the two designated Divorce Support Specialist Agencies, Thye Hua Kwan Centre for Family Harmony and Care Corner Centre for Co-parenting.

Only cases that have been ordered by a court may use this application.

E. Support Groups and Counselling

Individuals and families may share experiences and provide one another with support during counseling sessions since the environment is safe and private.

Section 95(3) Women’s Charter

(3) The plaintiff in a divorce process must persuade the court of one or more of the following circumstances in order for the court to rule that the marriage has irretrievably broken down:

(a) The plaintiff finds it unbearable to remain with the defendant because of his or her infidelity;

(b) that the defendant’s actions make it unreasonable for the plaintiff to anticipate that they would cohabitate;

(c) the defendant abandoned the plaintiff for a continuous period of at least two years prior to the writ’s filing;

(d) that the defendant agrees to a judgment being given and the parties to the marriage had lived apart continuously for at least three years prior to the writ’s filing;

(e) that the marriage’s parties had been living apart continuously for at least 4 years prior to the writ’s filing.

To initiate divorce proceedings, you must file the following documents in Court:

(1) Writ for Divorce, Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars.

The fact that you are relying on (adultery, unreasonable behavior, desertion, three years’ separation with permission, or four years’ separation) to seek the Court to give you a divorce must be stated in the Statement of Claim. Give specifics about the fact that you are relying on in the Statement of Particulars.

(2) Proposed Parenting Plan if you have children below 21.

If you and your ex-spouse (the Defendant) have been able to come to an understanding about the care of your children after the divorce, you should file an Agreed Parenting Plan.

(3) Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan if there is a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat to be divided between you and the Defendant.

If you have been able to come to an understanding over what will happen to the HDB apartment following the divorce, file an Agreed Matrimonial Property Plan.

(4) Acknowledgment of Service.

(5) Memorandum of Appearance.


Although it is possible to handle divorce processes on your own, it is recommended that you have a skilled family lawyer assist you at this trying time in your life. It is essential to obtain the counsel of a specialist in divorce and other matrimonial issues since you are particularly bound by the documents that you file in Court.

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By Kariuki Maina Kariuki Maina
In a world full of worriers, be the warrior.
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