When it comes to ending a marriage, couples have two primary options: separation and Divorce. Understanding the distinctions between these legal processes is crucial for making informed decisions that can have long-lasting consequences.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between being Divorce and separated, explaining each option’s financial implications and the other relevant issues such as child custody and support.
Understanding Divorce In Singapore
Divorce is the legal termination of a marriage. Both parties are allowed to remarry after a Divorce. In Singapore, the Women’s Charter governs Divorce proceedings. The Family Court can grant a Divorce if there is enough evidence of the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. You must prove one of the five facts stated in the Women’s Charter section 95:
- Desertion of at least two years
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Separation for three years
- Separation for four years
The Divorce process typically involves filing for Divorce, attending mediation, and counselling sessions. There could be Court proceedings if the parties cannot agree amicably. The proceedings can be time-consuming and costly, depending on various factors, including legal fees and Court-related expenses.
Exploring Separation In Singapore
Couples who encounter difficulties in their marriage but do not wish to proceed with a Divorce can pursue separation. Separation allows the parties to live apart while staying legally married and maintaining their marital status. Various factors, including personal preferences, religious beliefs, financial considerations, or the hope of reconciliation, can drive this choice.
There are two primary types of separation in Singapore: judicial separation and another, which can be filed through a deed of separation. While these terms may sound similar, they differ significantly regarding the legal processes and implications involved.
Judicial separation is a formal legal process initiated through the Court system. It involves filing a petition with the Court detailing the reasons for the separation and the desired terms of separation, such as child custody, financial arrangements, and division of assets.
Like Divorce, judicial separation requires valid grounds, such as adultery, desertion, unreasonable behaviour, or separation for a specific duration. The Court may order financial provisions, such as maintenance or child support, as part of the judicial separation arrangement.
Meanwhile, a deed of separation is an arrangement where couples mutually agree to live apart and formalise their separation terms without the Court’s involvement. While it is less formal than judicial separation or Divorce, it is still a legally binding document.
Unlike judicial separation, the deed of separation does not require specific grounds. It can be initiated by mutual consent and does not involve proving fault or wrongdoing. Also, through private agreements, couples can determine their financial arrangements, which can include spousal support, child support, and property division.
It’s important to note that judicial or deed of separation does not dissolve marriage. Both parties remain legally married despite living separately. Neither party can remarry unless they subsequently pursue a Divorce.
Financial Implications, Child Custody, And Child Support In Divorce vs. Separation
When weighing the decision to pursue a legal separation vs. Divorce, there are three critical factors that require careful consideration: finances, child custody, and child support. Each of these elements carries significant implications for the parties involved, and as such, it is essential to approach each with the utmost care and attention to detail.
- Division of Assets and Liabilities: In Divorce, marital assets and liabilities are typically divided, whereas in separation, couples can create their own agreements.
- Spousal and Child Support: Divorce often involves spousal and child support payments, while these may be optional or less formal in separation.
- Child Custody Arrangements: In Divorce, child custody arrangements are formalised, considering the best interests of the child. In separation, custody arrangements can be more flexible and less legally binding.
Conclusion About Divorce Vs Separation In Singapore
In the choice between separation vs. Divorce in Singapore, understanding the legal, financial, and emotional implications is vital. Both options have pros and cons, and the decision should be based on your unique circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions About Separation V. Divorce In Singapore:
What Are The Financial Benefits Of Separation Compared To Divorce?
The financial benefits of separation include the option to maintain certain marital benefits, such as healthcare or tax advantages, while living separately. Additionally, couples in separation can create customised financial agreements, potentially resulting in fewer financial disputes and legal expenses compared to Divorce proceedings.
Is Separation Required Before Filing For Divorce?
No, judicial or deed of separation is not mandatory before filing for Divorce in Singapore. While it may be pursued as an alternative, couples can initiate Divorce proceedings without prior separation. However, separation for three years or more can be used to prove the marriage is irretrievably broken, which is a ground for Divorce.
Can I File For A Divorce Immediately?
You can only file a Divorce in Singapore if you and your spouse have been married for at least three years. The Court may grant a Divorce to those who have suffered exceptional hardship or those whose spouses have been exceptionally unreasonable and cruel against the plaintiff.
What Happens When The Other Party Does Not Agree To Divorce?
In Singapore, if one party wishes to proceed with a Divorce and meets the necessary legal requirements, the other party cannot refuse the Divorce. The Family Court will assess the case based on the presented evidence and facts.