Divorce & Family Law FAQs

DIVORCE

» What is a Divorce?

A Divorce is the legal process that officially ends a registered marriage.

You can only remarry after you’ve obtained the Final Judgment which issued by the Court when a Divorce is concluded.

Divorce proceedings are conducted in the Family Court if the marriage involved non-Muslim parties or you and your spouse were married under Civil Law.

Divorce proceedings are conducted in the Syariah Court if the marriage involved Muslim parties or you and your spouse were married under Muslim Law or Syariah Law.

» Who can get a Divorce?

You can apply to get a Divorce in the Family Court if you meet the following criteria:

  • You or your spouse must be a Singapore Citizen
  • Otherwise, you’ve either lived in Singapore for a minimum of 3 years before the Divorce or intend to live in Singapore indefinitely
  • In addition, either 3 years must have passed since the date of the marriage or you must be able to show that your spouse has caused you to suffer exceptional hardship

» What do you need to get a Divorce?

A Court will only approve a Divorce application if you meet the following criteria:

You can prove that there’s been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage by proving a minimum of one of the following facts:

1. Adultery: your spouse committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with your spouse.

  • You must have stopped living together with your spouse within 6 months after the adultery was discovered.
  • You can’t rely on the adultery as a basis for Divorce if you continued to live with your spouse for more than 6 months after the adultery was discovered
  • Adultery is difficult and expensive to prove – you must prove that your spouse had consensual sexual relations with the third party, and you can engage a Private Investigator to get supporting evidence of the adultery.
  • Otherwise, you can prove that your spouse had an “improper association” with a third party (e.g. by proving that the relationship between them is so intimate that adultery can reasonably be assumed if there was an opportunity for it to occur).

2. Unreasonable behaviour: your spouse behaved in way that you can’t reasonably be expected to live with your spouse. For example:

  • The spouse committed family violence by:
    – Putting a family-member in fear of hurt
    – Causing hurt to a family-member
    – Wrongfully confining or restraining a family-member against their will
    – Causing continual harassment with intent to cause anguish to a family-member, including verbal abuse, psychological or emotional abuse
  • The spouse neglected the family (e.g. coming home very late, not giving financial support to the family, irresponsibly incurring debts that harm the family)
  • The spouse committed adultery with or has improper associations with a third party
  • The spouse committed domestic violence

You can’t rely on your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour as a basis for Divorce if you continued to live with your spouse for more than 6 months after the final incidence of unreasonable behaviour

3. Desertion: your spouse deserted you for a continuous period of a minimum of 2 years before the Divorce

  • You must not have agreed to your spouse’s desertion
  • The normal wear and tear (e.g. tension) of married life can’t be regarded as a sufficiently serious reason for the desertion
  • There is “constructive desertion” when one party leaves the home due to the behaviour or mistreatment of the other party

4. 3 years’ separation with consent: you and spouse must have lived apart for a continuous period of a minimum of 3 years before the Divorce and your spouse must agree to the Divorce

  • You and your spouse are considered as having been separated if you lived under the same roof but sleeping in separate bedrooms and keeping separate households (e.g. financially independent and separate expenses).

5. 4 years’ separation without consent: you and spouse lived apart for a continuous period of a minimum of 4 years before the Divorce

  • Your spouse doesn’t need to agree to the Divorce if you and your spouse have been separated for a minimum of 4 years

» How do you apply for a Divorce?

You can apply for a Divorce at the Family Court on your own and without engaging a lawyer.

  • You’ll need to understand and fulfil the formal requirements of conducting the case on your own (e.g. file / submit documents to Court the correct format, pay filing / administrative fees, speaking and providing information in Court)

As the Family Court won’t give you with any advice on what you should do, you’d need to consult a qualified lawyer if you want to get legal advice on the strengths and weaknesses of your case. The lawyer can also help by preparing the necessary documents on and appearing in Court on your behalf.

A Divorce is obtained by officially submitting documents and information to the Court to address the following issues:

» What are the 2 stages in a Divorce?

The Divorce process usually involves the following 2 stages:

  • Stage 1 (Divorce Proceedings): you and your spouse submit documents and information to the Court to show that a Divorce should be given (e.g. proving the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage through adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion or separation)
  • Stage 2 (Ancillary Proceedings): you and your spouse submit documents and information to the Court to handle all other key issues resulting from the Divorce (also known as Ancillary Matters):

» What main issues decided in a Divorce?

  • Maintenance of the Wife by the Husband (e.g. financial support)
  • Maintenance of the Children by the parents (e.g. financial support)
  • Division of the matrimonial assets (e.g. matrimonial home)
  • Custody, care and control of as well as access (e.g. visitation rights) to the Children

CONTESTED & UNCONTESTED DIVORCE

» What’s the difference between a Contested Divorce and Uncontested Divorce?

Divorce proceedings can be Contested (i.e. challenged / disputed) or Uncontested (i.e. unchallenged / undisputed

Contested proceedings can take place in the following situations:

  • A Contested Divorce takes place when your spouse doesn’t agree with and wants to oppose / defend the application for Divorce.
    For example, your spouse can want to remain married to your spouse or your spouse can disagree with your basis and reasons for the Divorce (e.g. your spouse doesn’t agree that there was adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion or separation)
  • Contested Ancillary Proceedings occur when your spouse wants to oppose / challenge your requests or views on how to handle the Ancillary Matters (e.g. maintenance, division of matrimonial assets, Children).
    For example, you can disagree on how much maintenance to pay, how to divide the matrimonial assets or how to resolve the amount of access to the Children)

Uncontested proceedings can occur in the following situations:

  • An Uncontested Divorce takes place when your spouse agrees with and doesn’t oppose the application for Divorce
  • Occasionally, a Divorce is partly Contested and partly Uncontested, such as in the following situations:
    • Uncontested Divorce and Contested Ancillary Proceedings: your spouse doesn’t oppose the application for a Divorce (i.e. willing to end the marriage) but wants to oppose / challenge your requests or views on how to handle the Ancillary Matters (e.g. maintenance, division of matrimonial assets, Children)
    • Contested Divorce and Uncontested Ancillary Proceedings: your spouse wants to oppose / challenge the application for a Divorce (i.e. not willing to end marriage) but doesn’t oppose / challenge your requests or views on how to handle the Ancillary Matters (e.g. maintenance, division of matrimonial assets, Children)

» Why is it better to get an uncontested Divorce?

Contested Divorce proceedings are more challenging to conduct compared to Uncontested Divorce proceedings because they involve more time, effort, resources and costs (e.g. personal stress, legal fees)

That’s why many people feel that they (and their Children) benefit from saving time, effort, resources and costs involved in Contested Divorce proceedings if they can discuss and agree on how to resolve and handle the breakdown of the marriage and the Ancillary Matters (e.g. maintenance, division of matrimonial assets, Children)

MAINTENANCE OF WIFE & CHILDREN

» What is Maintenance?

Maintenance is financial support given to pay for reasonable costs of housing, clothing, food and living expenses needed by a Wife or Child.

Every Husband has a statutory (legal) duty to pay maintenance for his Wife and every parent has the same duty to pay maintenance for the parent’s Child.

A person can officially apply to the Court to get a Maintenance Order which will officially demand the Husband or parent to pay maintenance to his Wife or Children.

  • The Wife has a right to claim maintenance from the Husband irrespective of her misconduct.
  • However, a Wife’s misconduct can affect the amount of maintenance that she is awarded by the Court
  • The duty to pay maintenance for the Wife and Child exists irrespective of whether Divorce proceedings are ongoing – the Husband / Father has a duty to maintain his Wife and Children during the marriage i.e. he must do this even when the marriage has not broken down and when the marriage has not been ended

Maintenance is paid by giving a monthly allowance or making a lump sum payment.

» How much maintenance must a Husband pay to the Wife?

The amount of maintenance is decided by the Court after considering the following factors:

  • Financial needs of the Wife
  • Income, earning power, property and other financial resources of both the Wife and Husband
  • Any physical or mental disability of the Wife
  • Age of each person and the duration of the marriage
  • Contributions made by each of you and your spouse to the marriage to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family
  • Standard of living enjoyed by the Wife before the Husband stopped giving reasonable maintenance for the Wife
  • Any value / benefit which one party would stand to lose as a result of the Divorce (e.g. pension)
  • Conduct of you and your spouse

The Husband’s duty of maintain the former Wife will usually end on his death or when the Wife remarries (whichever is earlier). Either you or your Husband or Ex-Husband can apply to the Court to vary or cancel the Order for maintenance at any time, if the circumstances under which the original order was given have changed.

The Court usually aims to put you and your spouse in the financial position in which they would’ve been if the marriage hadn’t broken down.

  • The general aim of requiring a former Husband to maintain his former Wife is to even out any financial inequalities between your spouses, taking into account any economic prejudice suffered by the former Wife during the marriage (e.g. financial loss when the Wife sacrificed her career or lost out in her earning power in order to look after the family)

A Wife or Ex-Wife can apply for maintenance during marriage, separation or the course of Divorce proceedings. You need not have to file for a Divorce before you apply for maintenance for yourself. You can do so if your Husband neglects or refuses to give you with reasonable maintenance.

If you’re undergoing a Divorce and do not apply for maintenance during Divorce proceedings or your application for maintenance has been turned down by the Court at the conclusion of Divorce proceedings, you cannot subsequently apply for maintenance.

» How much maintenance must a parent pay for the Children?

Parents have a duty to maintain or contribute to the maintenance of their Children (e.g. reasonable cost of housing, clothing, food and education.

This duty exists irrespective of:

  • Who the Children are in the custody of
  • Whether the Children are legitimate or illegitimate

A parent must maintain a Stepchild if the Child was treated as a member of the parent’s family and if the Child’s biological parents do not give full maintenance.

Maintenance is paid by giving a monthly allowance or making a lump sum payment.

The amount of maintenance is decided by the Court after considering the following factors:

  • Financial needs of the Child
  • Income, earning power, property and other financial resources of both the Child and parents
    Ratio of total earning income of both parents (i.e. the financially stronger parent usually pays more)
  • Any physical or mental disability of the Child
  • Age of each parent and the duration of the marriage
  • Contributions made by each of you and your spouse to the marriage to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family
  • Standard of living enjoyed by the Wife or Child before the parent neglected or refused to give reasonable maintenance for the Child
  • How the Child was already being schooled and how the parents expected him to continue to receive education
  • Conduct of you and your spouse

The Court can modify any agreement made between the parents relating to the Child’s maintenance.

The decision of the Court on how much maintenance to give to your Child depends on several factors. The Court will consider the basic financial needs of your Child such as his education, food and lodging expenses. Any physical or mental disability of your Child will also affect the amount of maintenance.

Usually an order for custody or maintenance will automatically expire after your Child reaches his 21st birthday or your Child is financially independent. Sometimes the Court can order maintenance for a specific period, even after your Child reaches his 21st birthday e.g. as until the completion of his tertiary education.

However, if your Child suffers from any physical or mental disability, the custody and/or the care and control, access or maintenance order can continue until he recovers from that disability, even after he turns 21.

» What happens if the Husband doesn’t pay Maintenance?

If your Husband or Ex-Husband has not paid you maintenance as ordered by the Court, you can recover the arrears by filing an enforcement application to the Family Court.

Arrears of maintenance can only be recovered up to a period of 3 years before the filing of the enforcement application. Any arrears in excess of the 3 years therefore can’t be recovered under such application.

The Wife can officially apply to the Court to get a Maintenance Order which will officially order the Husband to pay maintenance to her and their Children.

Once a Court has ordered the Husband to pay maintenance, he can be prosecuted for an offence punishable by imprisonment if he fails to obey the Court’s order to make maintenance payments.

  • The Husband must still pay maintenance even if he has already been prosecuted and punished for the non­compliance of the Court order.

The Court can also order that the maintenance payments be obtained from the Husband in the following ways:

  • Garnishee Order: a bank or third party are ordered to pay monies from the Husband’s account or funds to pay for the maintenance
  • Attachment of Earnings Order: the Husband’s employer is ordered to retain a portion of his salary to pay for the maintenance

» Can you change a Maintenance Order?

You or your Husband or Ex-Husband can apply to the Court to have the Maintenance Order rescinded (i.e. withdrawn / cancelled) or varied (i.e. revised / amended) if the party can prove that there’s been a material change in the circumstances of that party.

  • For example, the Wife can apply for the maintenance amount to be increased if the material change in her circumstances are such that she now requires a greater amount of maintenance (e.g. unable to work due to a medical condition, having to pay for the treatment a Child’s medical condition)
  • Likewise, the Husband can apply for the maintenance amount to be decreased if the material change in his circumstances are such that he is now unable to pay the same amount of maintenance (e.g. retrenchment, unemployment, unable to work due to a medical condition, having to pay for the treatment of a medical condition)
  • The Court can also consider any change in the general cost of living

The effect of a rescission of the Maintenance Order is that the Husband / Father will subsequently not be needed continue to pay maintenance under the terms of the order.

The effect of a variation of the Maintenance Order is that the Husband / Father will subsequently be needed to pay a lower or greater amount of maintenance.

You can make an application in Court to vary or cancel the Order of custody or maintenance in the interest of your Child. You can do so if there is a material or important change in the circumstances since the Order was made e.g. there is a substantial increase in the salary of either parent, change in health conditions or the remarriage of one parent.

You can make an agreement for custody and/or the care and control/access or maintenance. However, the Court can vary the agreement if it’s in the interest for the welfare of your Child to do so.

DIVISION OF MATRIMONIAL ASSETS

» What is a “matrimonial asset”?

The following types of property are matrimonial assets:

  • The matrimonial home
  • Property that was acquired during the marriage
  • Property that was acquired before marriage which was:
    • Ordinarily used by the family
    • Substantially improved by both or other party
  • Gifts that have been substantially improved by both or other party

Property that was acquired before the marriage doesn’t otherwise constitute matrimonial assets

» How are matrimonial assets divided?

The Court is empowered to order the division of any matrimonial asset according to an apportionment that is just and fair by giving adequate and appropriate weight to each party’s direct and indirect contribution towards the marriage:

  • Direct contributions include financial contributions made towards the acquisition or improvement of the matrimonial assets
  • Indirect contributions include efforts to improve or maintain the well­being of the family
  • The roles of you and your spouse as financial provider or homemaker are both equally recognised because both roles must have been performed equally for the marriage to continue or flourish

» What factors matter in the division of matrimonial assets?

The Court will decide on how to divide / apportion the matrimonial assets after considering the following factors:

  • Contributions made by each party towards acquiring, improving or maintaining the matrimonial assets (e.g. income and capital investment)
    • The more contributions to the asset acquisition, the more the court is likely to award
    • At the very least, a party’s greater amount of contribution would justify a greater proportion being awarded to that party
  • Debt owed or obligation incurred / undertaken by one party for the joint benefit of both parties and their Children
    • The Court can reduce the amount awarded to one party by the amount of the debt that was incurred by that party
  • Needs of the Children
    • For example, the needs of the Children can require that the matrimonial property not be divided and that the Children be allowed to live in the property until the youngest Child is 21 years old ­ this takes place because the Court recognises that needs of the Children are paramount
  • Contributions made by each party towards the welfare of the family (e.g. homemaker, caregiver for Children / dependents)
    • This accounts for the non­financial contributions of the homemaker who helped to create and maintain a positive home environment
  • Agreement between you and your spouse relating to the ownership and division of the matrimonial assets made in contemplation of Divorce
    • Whether a prenuptial agreement is recognised by the Court will depend on the unique facts of each case
  • Period of rent-free occupation (or other benefit) enjoyed by one party in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party
  • Assistance or support (financial and non-­financial) given by one party to the other party
    • This includes the assistance or support given by one party which has helped the other party carry on an occupation or business
  • Amount of maintenance paid to the former Wife

CHILD CUSTODY, CARE & CONTROL AND ACCESS

» Who is considered a "Child"?

A “Child” is defined by the Women’s Charter as a Child of the marriage whom is below 21 years of age

» What’s the difference between Custody, Care & Control & Access?

Custody refers to a parent’s right to make important / key decisions over major aspects of the Child’s upbringing and welfare, such as those affecting the following:

  • Religion e.g. whether the Child should be receiving religious instruction, attend a put of worship or participate in religious activities / ceremonies
  • Education e.g. whether the Child should attend a specific school or enrichment class, whether the Child should participate in a specific co-­curricular or extra­curricular activity
  • Medical / health treatment e.g. whether the Child should receive / undergo a specific type of medical treatment

Care and Control refers a parent’s right to have authority and responsibility over the day-to-day matters of the Child (i.e. caring for and supervising the Child on a day-to-day basis)

  • The Child will live with the parent who is awarded with Care and Control of the Child

Access refers to a parent’s right to have contact and physical access to the Child

  • This is given to the parent who doesn’t have Care and Control of the Child to make sure that that parent has sufficiently regular contact and adequate opportunities to develop and maintain a good parent­-child relationship with the Child
  • For example, a parent can be given with day­time access to the Child for a certain number of days during the week and overnight access during the weekend

» How is Custody decided?

The welfare of the Child is the paramount (i.e. most important) consideration.

  • The Child’s wants and preferences can also be taken into account by the Court

Joint custody (i.e. custody shared by both parents) is often ordered because the Court usually believes that it’s in the best interests of the Child to have both parents in the Child’s life

  • Although the Court usually prefers not to intervene unnecessarily in the parent-child relationship, joint custody ensures that both parents are able to continue to play a part in the Child’s life
  • Joint custody also helps to remind both parents that they must be cooperative and consult each other in raising the Child and not to exclude one another

Sole custody (i.e. custody given to one parent) is rare and only ordered in exceptional circumstances such as the following:

  • Where one parent is clearly incapable of being responsible for the upbringing and welfare of the Child
  • Where one parent has a track record of acting against the best interests and welfare of the Child (e.g. physically abusing or neglecting the Child)

» How is Care and Control decided?

The welfare of the Child is the paramount consideration

  • The Child’s wants and preferences can also be taken into account by the Court

It is common for one parent to be awarded with care and control and the other parent to be awarded with access.

Although shared care and control has occasionally been supported by the Court, this type of arrangement is rare / unusual because it tends to disrupt the Child’s day-to-day routine.

General observations on how the Court determines which parent should be awarded with care and control:

  • If the Child is young (and given all other factors are equal), the Court will prefer to award care and control to the Mother
  • The maternal bond between the Mother and an infant / young Child is a key consideration
  • The Court prefers to preserve the status quo (i.e. maintain the current / existing continuity of living arrangements)
  • Siblings should not be separated
  • The Court will consider other relevant factors which can justify one parent being preferred over the other parent:
    • Bad habits e.g. gambling
    • Illness e.g. depression
    • Time already spent bonding with Child
    • Availability / working hours of the parent
    • Focus or preoccupation with a parent’s career
    • Whether a parent has shown interest in the Child’s welfare and well­being (e.g. education, health)

» How is Access decided?

The welfare of the Child is the paramount consideration

  • The Child’s wants and preferences can also be taken into account by the Court

The Court also aims to give the parent who doesn’t have Care and Control of the Child with sufficiently regular contact and adequate opportunities to develop and maintain a good parent-child relationship with the Child and so that the Child is not deprived of contact with either parent

The Court can limit or deny access to a parent if it’s not in the best interests of the Child

General observations on how the Court determines which parent should be awarded with care and control:

  • The terms of access should be fair to all parties as much as possible (e.g. considering that the parent without care and control of the Child will already be deprived of a substantial amount of contact with the Child because the Child doesn’t live with that parent)
  • Parents should discuss and agree (and compromise, if necessary) on an arrangement for access (e.g. weekday access, weekend access, overnight access, overseas access, public / school holiday access) based on what is fair, reasonable and logistically feasible
  • If the parents are unable to agree on the terms of access, the Court will decide after considering the parents’ respective reasons

DEED OF SEPARATION

» What is a Deed of Separation?

When a Husband and Wife are preparing for the possibility of a Divorce and they’re (or are) separated (i.e. living in separate households), a document known as a Deed of Separation can be prepared to help them state the key facts and terms which they have both willingly agreed to in relation to the breakdown of their marriage and how their Ancillary Matters (e.g. maintenance, division of matrimonial assets, Children) are handled in the event that you and your spouse obtains a Divorce, such as the following:

  • The relationship / marriage has irretrievably broken down
  • The commencement / start date of the separation (i.e. the date on which you and your spouse first separated or began to live in separate households)
  • How the ongoing separation will take put and be managed in relation to the following:
    • You and your spouse’ living and financial arrangements
    • The Children’s’ living, access and financial arrangements
  • How much maintenance are paid to the Wife and Children
  • How the couple’s matrimonial assets and properties are divided
  • How the couple’s debts are paid
  • How the couple’s Children are cared for (e.g. Custody, Care and Control, Access)
  • uncontested Divorce can get a Divorce through uncontested Divorce Proceedings and Ancillary Proceedings when the 3 years’ or 4 years’ separation period has been completed

A Deed of Separation can give for the terms to be revised and renegotiated (e.g. if there is a material change in you and your spouse’ circumstances)

  • This also helps to make sure that the terms of the Deed of Separation remain relevant and pragmatic and are capable of being complied with over time

» Will a Deed of Separation be recognised by the Court?

A Deed of Separation is an agreement is legally binding on you and your spouse and recognised by the Court

In deciding how much weight are given to the Deed of Separation during Divorce Proceedings, the Court will consider whether or not:

  • Whether you and your spouse had willingly entered into the Deed / agreement (i.e. without duress, undue influence)
  • Whether you and your spouse fully understood the terms of the Deed / agreement (i.e. without mistake, misrepresentation or fraud)
  • Whether the terms and arrangements contained in the Deed / agreement are fair and reasonable to you and your spouse (i.e. not biased, unfair)

» What is the advantage of getting a Deed of Separation?

As you and your spouse can be separating for some time before a Divorce is obtained, a Deed of Separation helps to set clear rules as to how the couple’s living and financial arrangements during the ongoing separation are managed

  • This helps to reduce potential issues of dispute from arising and minimise the likelihood of disagreements between you and your spouse during the ongoing separation
  • By doing so, the Deed of Separation can help to reduce the likelihood of unhappiness or ill feeling between you and your spouse when they later start Divorce Proceedings

The Deed of Separation also helps to clarify and confirm when 3 years’ or 4 years’ of separation will start and finish so that you and your spouse can proceed to rely on the separation as a basis for the Divorce at the appropriate time

Although you and your spouse can spend time and effort on reaching an agreement in the Deed of Separation as to how the Ancillary Matters are handled (even before Divorce Proceedings are even started), this can ultimately help save time and costs because the Deed of Separation is used to clearly state that the terms of the Divorce and exactly how the Ancillary Matters are handled

  • For example, the Deed of Separation can state that you and your spouse agree that either one of them can get an uncontested Divorce after the relevant separation period is completed
  • In addition, the Deed of Separation can state exactly how all the Ancillary Matters (e.g. maintenance, division of matrimonial assets, Children) are handled and this would remove the need or probability of contested Ancillary Proceedings

FAMILY & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

» What is “Family Violence”?

According to the Women’s Charter, Family Violence is regarded as one of the following acts:

  • Wilfully or knowingly putting or attempting to put a family member in fear of hurt
  • Causing hurt to a family member by an act which is known or should’ve been known would result in hurt
  • Wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against his will
  • Causing continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it’s likely to cause anguish to a family member
  • This doesn’t include any force lawfully used in self-defence, or by way of correction towards a Child below 21 years of age

The following persons are regarded as family members:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Child including an adopted Child and a step­child
  • Father or Mother
  • Father-in-law or mother-in-law
  • Brother or sister;
  • Any other relative
  • Any other person whom the Court feels should be regarded as a member of the family because of the person’s incapacity, physical or mental disability, ill-health or old age

PERSONAL PROTECTION ORDER (PPO)

» What is a Personal Protection Order (PPO)?

A Personal Protection Order (PPO) is a Court Order that stops and prohibits a person from using family violence against another family-member

A breach of a Personal Protection Order (PPO) is a criminal offence and can be punished with a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to 6 months’ imprisonment. Repeat offenders can be punished with enhanced (i.e. more severe) punishment of a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 12 months’ imprisonment.

» How do you get a Personal Protection Order (PPO)?

You can apply for a Personal Protection Order (PPO) at the Family Justice Courts.

  • If you decide to apply for a PPO on your own without a Family Lawyer or Divorce Lawyer, you’ll must comply with the formal rules of conducting the case on your own (e.g. file / submit documents to Court the correct format, pay filing / administrative fees, speaking and providing information in Court)

Since the Family Court won’t give you advice on what you should do, you’d need to consult a qualified lawyer if you want to get legal advice on the strengths and weaknesses of your case. The lawyer can also help by preparing the necessary documents and attend Court on your behalf.

A Personal Protection Order (PPO) is obtained by officially submitting documents and information to the Court to deal with the following issues:

  • Proving that family violence has been committed or is likely to be committed against you
  • Proving that the PPO is necessary to protect you

The Court can decide on how long a Personal Protection Order (PPO) should last

  • The Personal Protection Order (PPO) will last for an indefinite period (i.e. without an expiration date) if the Court doesn’t specify an exact period or duration.

The offender (or respondent) against whom a Personal Protection Order (PPO) has been issued can apply to the Court to revise the terms of the PPO or to revoke (i.e. cancel) the PPO.

» What else can the Court do when ordering a PPO?

When a PPO is given, the Court can also make the following Orders:

  • Counselling Order: This tells parties to undergo mandatory / compulsory counselling sessions under the Mandatory Counselling Programme administered by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)
  • Failure to obey a Counselling Order and attend counselling sessions is regarded as contempt of Court (and can be punished with a fine or imprisonment)
  • The main aims of the Mandatory Counselling Programme are:
  • To educate you and your spouse on how to resolve conflicts and behave appropriately towards each another
  • To prevent and stop the family violence
  • To give victims of family violence a source of support and assistance

Expedited Order (EO): This is a short-term PPO given on an urgent basis without a full trial conducted in Court (i.e. without evidence officially submitted for the Court’s consideration via witnesses)

  • You must show that there is imminent danger (i.e. that family violence is about to be committed)
  • The Expedited Order (EO) lasts for 28 days and can be extended by the Court

Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO): This tells the offender to leave your home or prohibits (i.e. disallows) the offender from entering your home or any part of the home

  • The Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO) only limits the offender’s right to live in the home and doesn’t affect the offender’s ownership of the home
  • A Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO) is issued if the Court feels it’s necessary for protection or personal safety of you or other family-members

The Court can give other directions / instructions to make sure that the Court’s Orders are capable of being carried out

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