Do you qualify to divorce a foreign spouse in Singapore?
The legal requirements to file for divorce in Singapore include:
1. At least one of the parties is domiciled in Singapore.
2. At least one of the parties has been habitually resident in Singapore for 3 years immediately preceding the filing of the divorce.
3. The parties have been married for at least 3 years. If the parties have not been married for at least 3 years, they may wish to consider alternatives to divorce.
Domiciled in Singapore
You are domiciled in Singapore if you are a Singapore citizen. Otherwise, being domiciled in Singapore means living in Singapore and having the intention to make Singapore one’s permanent home. Staying in Singapore for a particular purpose (e.g. work or studies) does not mean that the person’s domicile has changed to Singapore.
Habitually Resident in Singapore
You are habitually resident in Singapore if you reside in Singapore. This means residing in Singapore voluntarily with a settled purpose (such as work or studies). To file for divorce in Singapore, either party has to be habitually resident in Singapore for at least 3 years before the filing of the divorce. The period of habitual residency in Singapore must be continuous. However, being away from Singapore for a brief period for holidays or business does not break the continuity of residence.
If you are seeking to annul your marriage with a foreign spouse in Singapore (i.e. to declare the marriage as null and void), you will just need to show that both parties reside in Singapore at the time of the commencement of the nullity proceedings.
The grounds for annulment are very different from that of divorce.
A marriage may be void if they have not fulfilled the requirements of a valid marriage from the onset. For example, a marriage between 2 parties of the sex gender is void from the onset of the marriage.
A marriage may be voidable if they are valid at the onset but for some reasons it can be voided if one party chooses to void it. For example, a marriage which has not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal/ incapacity of one party is voidable.
Proceedings in Foreign Courts
If a marriage has been dissolved in a foreign Court, then it is not possible for you to divorce your foreign spouse in Singapore. When parties pursue divorce proceedings in different countries, the first Court to grant a divorce (whether in Singapore or otherwise) will dissolve the marriage and will usually also decide on all ancillary issues (such as division of matrimonial assets, custody of children and maintenance).
Courts in Singapore will recognize the foreign judgment of divorce if the foreign Court has some connection to the marriage/ parties. In the event that the foreign Court has little connection to the marriage/ parties, it is possible to apply for a stay of proceedings.
Divorce Foreign Spouse in Singapore- Other Issues
You may also be concerned about the following other issues:
1. What will happen to the dependant’s pass of your foreign spouse?
3. What will happen to overseas assets held in your foreign spouse’s name?
You may wish to have a look at our articles, including this one on expat divorces, on these subjects.
If you have questions specific to your case, you should consult an experienced divorce lawyer for legal advice. We can be reached at +6598330314 (whatsapp).
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