The sole ground for divorce in Singapore is the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. To file for divorce under this ground, you will need to provide the Court will valid reasons for divorce– namely, unreasonable behaviour of your spouse, separation for a period of 3 years (with consent of both parties to divorce), separation for a period of 4 years, adultery of your spouse or desertion by your spouse.
How do you prove separation for divorce in Singapore, especially if you and your spouse continue to live under the same roof during the period of separation?
Physical Separation for Divorce in Singapore
If the couple have different addresses and are living in different homes, it would be easier to prove separation for divorce in Singapore. However, physical separation alone is insufficient. Parties must have had the intention to separate. For instance, if parties are living apart due to practical reasons such as work or studies, this will not constitute separation for divorce in Singapore.
In addition, there must also be a loss of consortium (i.e. the end of companionship and association with each other). For instance, if during the period of separation, spouse A continues to do everything (e.g. housework) for spouse B which spouse A is used to doing when they are happily married, this does not constitute separation for divorce in Singapore.
Under Section 95 of the Women’s Charter, the period of physical separation should be for a continuous period. However, if the couple has a break and resume cohabitation, they may still be able to use separation for divorce in Singapore, provided that:
1. The couple resume cohabitation for a period of less than 6 months or for 2 periods of 6 months or less (cumulatively).
2. After deducting the period of resumption of cohabitation, the couple have been separation for a period of at least 3 years (if both parties consent to the divorce) or 4 years.
Separated but Living in the Same Home
Even in the event that the couple are living together in the same home, it may still be possible for them to prove separation for divorce in Singapore. They will have to maintain separate households. There must be a loss of consortium (i.e. no marital relationship and association with each other) and an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage while they are living together.
Such couples normally do not perform spousal duties for each other (such as housework), keep finances separate and sleep in separate bedrooms.
Separation vs Desertion
Desertion is another possible reason used by couples in proving the irretrievable of their marriage. In the case of desertion, there is abandonment of spouse A by spouse B, against the wills of spouse A. The intention of spouse B is to bring the marriage to a permanent end. It is separation without consent. The period of desertion needs to be at least 2 years (rather than 3 or 4 years).
Proving Separation for Divorce in Singapore
In the case of an uncontested simplified divorce in Singapore, the Plaintiff (i.e. person filing the divorce) needs to explain the details of separation in a document known as Statement of Particulars which must be filed in Court. Parties should also highlight the start date of separation, the duration of separation and the reason for separation. No evidence is normally required. Where parties are relying on separation for 3 years (with consent from Defendant on the divorce), the Defendant (i.e. the other spouse) will need to file a document known as Consent to Grant Judgment on Three Years’ Separation.
You may also enter into a deed of separation in Singapore with your spouse to provide documentary evidence on your intention to separation. How much does a deed of separation cost? Usually a few hundred dollars. However, it will provide some certainty to the future divorce.
Alternatively, you may also consider filing for judicial separation.
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