In normal circumstances, it is not possible for a couple to divorce within 1 year in Singapore. A couple may only divorce after 3 years of marriage. Is it possible to divorce within 3 years of marriage in Singapore?
Getting a Divorce When Parties Have Not Been Married for At Least 3 Years
It is possible to obtain a divorce in Singapore when parties have not been married for at least 3 years if it is proven to the Court that the Plaintiff (i.e. the person filing the divorce) has suffered exceptional hardship or that there has been exceptional depravity by the Defendant (i.e. the other party to the divorce).
Some examples of cases where the Court found that there was exceptional hardship/ depravity (leading to a divorce within 3 years of marriage) include:
1. In the case of Ng Kee Shee v Fu Gaofei, the Husband was found to have suffered exceptional hardship. His wife had run away to China shortly after the marriage and even threatened to commit suicide if she was forced to return. The Wife refused to allow the Husband to touch her and restricted sexual intimacy to once a week. The Husband’s desire to start a family was also taken into account by the Court.
2. In the case of Foo Teck Guan v Chan Yoke Han, the Court found that there was exceptional depravity by the Wife who had committed adultery in the parties’ matrimonial home and the Husband suffered from depression as a result of the Wife’s behaviour.
Some examples of cases where the Court found that there was no exceptional hardship/ depravity include:
1. Isolated incidents of physical abuse.
2. Stress resulting from living with a controlling spouse/ parents-in-law.
3. There is a reasonable probability of reconciliation.
4. Mere disruption to the Plaintiff’s career.
5. Mere adultery.
Even if the Court finds that there is exceptional hardship/ exceptional depravity, other legal requirements of divorce must be fulfilled in order for a grant of divorce within 3 years of marriage. For instance, the Court must find that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Consequences of Misrepresentation
In cases where the Court found that there is misrepresentation or concealment of the true nature of the case, the Court may, even if Interim Judgment has been granted, order that the final judgment shall not be granted until after the marriage reaches its 3rd year mark. The Court may even dismiss the proceedings.
Alternatives to Divorce Within 3 Years of Marriage
You may wish to consider an annulment of marriage in Singapore, which is a declaration that the marriage is null and void. The marriage has to be either voidable/ void for you to apply for annulment of marriage.
Annulment of marriage in Singapore can take place even before the marriage reaches its 3rd year mark.
A marriage may be void/ voidable if:
1. The marriage has not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal of one party to do so.
2. The marriage has not been consummated owing to the incapacity of one party.
3. Either party did not validly consent to the marriage and only got married as a result of duress, mistake, mental disorder or other reasons.
4. The Defendant Wife was pregnant with another man’s child at the time of the marriage and the Husband was not aware.
5. The Defendant was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease at the time of the marriage and the Plaintiff did not know.
In the event that you are not able to file for annulment of marriage in Singapore, you may wish to consider waiting out the 3-year period before filing for divorce. In the meantime, you may wish to consider the following options, if necessary:
2. Applying for a personal protection order if you have been hurt or placed in fear of hurt, wrongfully confined/ restrained or suffering from the harassment of your spouse.
Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
While it is possible to navigate the system and make an application to file for divorce within 3 years of marriage, it will be helpful to engage a lawyer to advise you on your chances of succeeding in your applicable and preparing the necessary documents for your filing.
Contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp) for more information on divorce within 3 years of marriage.
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