Divorce can be stressful and draining- financially and mentally. At the top of many people’s concerns is the divorce fees in Singapore.
Uncontested Divorce Fees in Singapore
A divorce need not be financially draining, especially if yours is a simplified uncontested divorce. In a simplified uncontested divorce, all terms of the divorce are agreed (including the reason for divorce and the divorce ancillary terms). The work of the divorce lawyer in an uncontested divorce case is predictable and defined. As such, many divorce law firms in Singapore are able to offer fixed uncontested divorce fees in Singapore. Uncontested divorce fees in Singapore usually range from S$1,150 nett to S$1,500 nett. Some divorce law firms offer fixed uncontested divorce fees in Singapore, with add-ons (including disbursements and GST).
The services covered by the uncontested divorce fees in Singapore will generally include:
1. Drafting of all divorce papers.
2. Filing fees.
3. Commissioning fees paid to the Commissioner of Oaths who will witness the signing of the divorce documents.
4. Extraction of the Interim and Final Judgments of divorce.
Pre-Divorce Consultation Fees
If you are contemplating divorce but have yet to firm up your plans, you may arrange for a consultation with a divorce lawyer. Many divorce lawyers in Singapore offer free consultations on the divorce process either over the phone or face-to-face. For a more detailed consultation, during which you need the divorce lawyer to offer case-specific advice, the divorce lawyer will likely charge a small consultation fee. In general, this ranges from S$150.00 to S$500.00.
Contested Divorce Fees in Singapore
In a contested divorce, parties have not agreed on the divorce and/ or the ancillary terms. Before commencing divorce proceedings, the party filing the divorce has to attend the Mandatory Parenting Programme conducted by the Divorce Specialist Support Agencies if there is at least 1 child under the age of 21. The consultation session is free.
After the completion of the Mandatory Parenting Programme, you will be issued with a Certificate of Completion. With this certificate, you will be able to file for a contested divorce in Singapore.
The work which your divorce lawyer will do for you include:
1. Preparation of divorce documents to commence the case.
2. Serving the divorce documents on your spouse.
3. If your spouse were to engage a lawyer and file a defence/ counterclaim, your lawyer will have to file your reply to the defence/ defence to the counterclaim.
4. Attend status conferences to keep the Court updated on the proceedings and to receive directions from the Court.
5. Preparation and sending of proposals and documents to your spouse/ your spouse’s lawyer.
6. Attending mediation with you. Mediation is compulsory if you have at least 1 child under the age of 21.
7. Advising you on your rights and protecting your interests throughout the contested divorce process.
Some lawyers will provide a lump sum nett figure for the entire contested divorce process (which concludes with a settlement at mediation). Other lawyers will charge based on their hourly rates.
A lump sum nett figure will provide you with certainty and allow you to plan ahead in terms of legal costs. On the other hand, it may be appropriate to request for your divorce lawyer to charge based on his/ her hourly rates if you anticipate that you will reach an amicable settlement with your spouse at the early stages.
In the event that you are unable to reach an amicable settlement with your spouse at the mediation stage, your case will proceed for adjudication by the Court.
Stage 1: Dissolution of Marriage
Your divorce lawyer may charge based on:
1. An hourly rate. Typically, the hourly rates of lawyers range from S$150.00 (for a junior lawyer) to S$800.00 per hour (for a senior lawyer).
2. A pre-agreed lump sum. Typically, the agreed sum will range from S$10,000.00 to S$25,000.00.
3. Service completion. For instance, each day of trial may cost S$x and if your divorce trial were to continue for 3 days, the total costs will be 3 days multiplied by S$x.
Generally, the work done during stage 1 of a contested divorce includes:
1. Preparation of Affidavit-of-Evidence-in-Chief. This is a detailed statement signed by you, informing the Court of the facts of the case.
2. Attendance at pre-trial conferences.
3. Correspondence with your spouse’s lawyer.
4. Attendance at the hearings– your divorce lawyer will be examining witnesses (i.e. asking questions to witnesses).
5. Preparation of written submissions (application of legal arguments to the facts).
Stage 2: Ancillary Matters Hearing
At stage 2, the Court will decide on the ancillary issues including children’s custody, division of matrimonial assets and quantum of maintenance (if any).
The scope of work carried out by your divorce lawyer includes:
1. Preparation of Affidavits of Assets and Means (statements detailing parties’ financial assets, liabilities and contributions to the marriage).
2. Attendance at pre-trial conferences (i.e. administrative hearings).
3. Correspondence with your spouse’s lawyer.
4. Assisting with the discovery and interrogatory processes. Discovery is a process where you/ your spouse requests for further documents not disclosed earlier. Interrogatory is a process where you/ your spouse requests for further information relevant to the ancillary matters hearing.
5. Preparation of written submissions.
6. Attendance at the ancillary matters hearings.
Similarly, the divorce fees in Singapore for stage 2 of the contested divorce process may be based on your lawyer’s hourly rates, a pre-agreed lump sum or on a per-service basis.
While divorce fees in Singapore is an important consideration, you should generally be comfortable with the way your divorce lawyer works with you.
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