Divorce By Mutual Agreement: 6 Facts About The New Law

by 24 June 2024Knowledge & Insights

The ability to Divorce by Mutual Agreement (DMA) in 2023 because the law has not taken effect yet, although it was passed in 2021. But this year, 2024, couples now have the option to dissolve their marriage through mutual consent.

Starting from July 1, married couples in Singapore can now cite mutual agreement as a reason for divorce if they both agree that their marriage has broken down irretrievably.

Before this new law, couples could only get divorced in Singapore if they could prove their marriage had irretrievably broken down due to one of five grounds: adultery or infidelity, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation of three years with consent, or separation of four years without consent.

This significant change allows couples to part ways amicably without attributing fault to either party. Here are five facts about the new law that couples considering an amicable way to separate should know.

1. Couples Must Have Been Married For At Least 3 Years

To be eligible for DMA, couples must have been married for at least three years, as stated in the Women’s Charter. This duration ensures that the couple has had sufficient time to work through any issues and make efforts to reconcile before seeking a divorce.

The 3-year requirement is a safeguard to ensure that the marriage has truly broken down and that there is no reasonable possibility of reconciliation. It also prevents frivolous or hasty divorces.

The law requires couples to have been married for at least three years, ensuring that they have had sufficient time to work through any issues and make informed decisions about their marriage and future.


2. Couples Must State Reasons Their Marriage Has Irretrievably Broken

They must also submit to the Court a written agreement outlining the reasons for their marriage’s irretrievable breakdown. Couples do not need to attribute fault or blame to either party. They can simply state why they agree that the marriage has broken down. They can cite:

  • Differences in cultural and other values
  • Having constant arguments due to misunderstandings
  • No longer having any love for each other
  • Growing apart

The Court will only allow the divorce if it is satisfied with the couple’s reasons for the marriage’s breakdown or finds no reasonable possibility of reconciliation.


3. Couples Must Show Efforts To Reconcile

Couples must demonstrate to the Court that they have genuinely tried to reconcile to proceed with a Divorce by Mutual Agreement. Examples include:

  • Showing they have already attended mediation or counselling sessions, but these were unsuccessful in repairing the relationship.
  • Providing documentation or communications between the spouses or their representatives that show attempts to reconcile, but these efforts were not reciprocated or did not lead to a resolution.
  • This explains how trust has been broken repeatedly in the marriage despite the couple giving the relationship another chance to work.
  • Giving specific examples of one spouse’s attempts to repair the relationship, which the other party did not match.

The key is for the couple to provide as much detailed information as possible to the Court about their sincere efforts to reconcile and save the marriage, ultimately concluding that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.


4. Couples Must Submit Arrangements For Children And Finances

When applying for Divorce by Mutual Agreement (DMA) in Singapore, couples must submit detailed arrangements for their children and finances to the Court. This requirement ensures that the well-being of all parties involved, especially minor children, is prioritised and protected.

Arrangements For Children

The divorce agreement must include specific terms regarding the care and custody of any children of the marriage, such as:

  • Who will have primary care and control of the children
  • The visitation rights and access arrangements for the non-custodial parent
  • How major decisions regarding the children’s upbringing will be made
  • The financial support and maintenance for the children

The Court will scrutinise these arrangements to ensure they are in the children’s best interests and provide for their physical, emotional, and financial well-being.

Financial Arrangements

The divorce agreement must also outline the financial arrangements between the spouses, including:

  • The division of matrimonial assets and property
  • Spousal maintenance, if applicable
  • The settlement of any outstanding debts or liabilities

The financial arrangements must be fair and equitable, taking into account factors such as the duration of the marriage, each party’s financial needs and resources, and their respective contributions to the marriage.

The divorce agreement containing the arrangements for children and finances must be presented to the Court for approval. The Court will review the terms and content of the agreement to ensure it is fair and reasonable and adequately protects the interests of any children involved.

If the Court is satisfied with the arrangements, it will grant the divorce decree. However, if the Court finds the arrangements unsatisfactory or believes there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation, it may reject the divorce agreement.


5. The Mandatory Co-Parenting Programme Is Extended To All Couples With Children Below 21

With the new law, the Mandatory Co-parenting Programme (CPP) has been extended to all divorcing couples with children below 21 years old.

The aim of the CPP is to help couples understand the impact of their decision to divorce on their children and facilitate effective co-parenting strategies to prioritise the well-being of the kids.

The CPP consists of an online e-learning component and a mandatory individual or couple consultation with a counsellor from a Divorce Support Specialist Agency or Strengthening Families Programme.

The extension of the mandatory programme to all divorcing parents with minor and older children is intended to ensure child-centric outcomes and promote cooperative co-parenting during and after the divorce process.

Over 95% of participants in the Mandatory Parenting Programme (MPP), CPP’s previous name, reported increased awareness of the impact of divorce on their children and the need to prioritise the children’s interests over their own.

6. Each Spouse Must Be Represented By Their Lawyer

Having separate lawyers helps balance power dynamics during negotiations, preventing coercion and protecting each spouse’s rights. Legal representation facilitates communication, aids in conflict resolution, and helps draft comprehensive and legally sound agreements.

Mandatory legal representation ensures compliance with legal standards and safeguards the rights of both parties, especially in cases where one spouse may be vulnerable.

Overall, this requirement in divorce proceedings aims to uphold fairness, protect individual rights, and promote a smooth and equitable resolution of the divorce process.


Conclusion About Divorce By Mutual Agreement In Singapore

The introduction of the new law allowing Divorce by Mutual Agreement in Singapore marks a significant step towards providing couples with a more amicable and efficient way to end their marriage.

To summarise the requirements of DMA, couples must have been married for at least 3 years, they must provide the Court with reasons why their marriage has irretrievably broken down, and show they have made efforts to reconcile and submit arrangements for their children and financial affairs. Each spouse must also be represented by their own lawyer.

This legislation aims to streamline the divorce process and promote positive outcomes for all parties involved by emphasising mutual consent, efforts to reconcile, and the well-being of children.
If you are looking for legal representation, contact Tembusu Law. Our expert family law and divorce lawyers can guide you through the divorce process, help you draft statements, and meet other Court requirements. Call us today for a consultation!


Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce By Mutual Agreement In Singapore

What Is The Role Of The Court In A Divorce By Mutual Agreement In Singapore?

The Court reviews the divorce agreement to ensure it is fair and reasonable and that the couple has genuinely tried to reconcile. If the Court is satisfied with the agreement, it will grant the divorce decree.

How Long Does The Divorce By Mutual Agreement Process Typically Take In Singapore?

The Divorce by Mutual Agreement process typically takes several months to a year, depending on the complexity of the case and the parties’ efficiency in submitting the necessary documents and agreements.

Are There Any Benefits To Divorce By Mutual Agreement In Singapore?

Divorce by Mutual Agreement offers an amicable and cost-effective way to legally dissolve a marriage. It also allows spouses to maintain control over the divorce process and make decisions that prioritise the well-being of their children.

What Happens If One Spouse Does Not Agree To A Divorce By Mutual Agreement?

If one spouse does not agree to a divorce by mutual agreement, the couple can still pursue a divorce through other means, such as citing other grounds for divorce under the Women’s Charter.

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