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Grounds For Divorce

Prior to filing for divorce in Singapore, you’ll need to know the details surrounding the laws that are associated with this procedure.

Before a divorce can be considered, there are legal requirements that must first be met. These are:

  • The couple must have been married for at least three years.
  • Either one of you must be domiciled in Singapore, that means either one must be a Singapore citizen or a Singapore Permanent Resident.
  • If both of you are foreigners, one of you must have habitually resided in Singapore for three years prior to the divorce proceeding. (or)

grounds for divorceIf the marriage is less than three years, there can be the option for filing for an annulment (certain criterion need to be fulfilled) or obtain for abridgement of time to file for divorce (less than 3 years). It’s important to consult qualified legal advice in cases in which there is any uncertainly regarding your available divorce options.

In Singapore, unlike many other locations in the world, there is only a single reason that needs to be in place prior to filing for divorce. That reason involves the fact that the marriage has been deemed to be irretrievably broken and there is the desire to end the legal relationship.

However, there are certain criteria that must be met and proven prior to proceeding with the divorce. Divorce on the grounds of Irretrievable breakdown is insufficient. The breakdown of the marriage has to be proven and the following are the possible ways. They are:

  • Adultery: where a spouse has committed adultery and the other partner discovers it and finds it intolerable to live with the infidelity. Adultery must be proven through a report obtained from a private investigation professional. However, adultery is not considered legal grounds for divorce if you have continued to live with the accused defendant for a period of at least six months after the adultery has been discovered. This limitation doesn’t apply if the adultery is an ongoing situation.
  • Unreasonable Behaviour: where a spouse’s behaviour is unacceptable for the other to carry on in the marriage. Eg: compulsive gambling habits, physical and/or verbal abuse , drug use or any other behavior that creates an intolerable situation for remaining in the marriage. However the court may look at all the facts in totality before determining if the case has met the threshold requirement and therefore, it is fact-dependent. This ground is one of the popular grounds of divorce and may be easily established by either party.
  • Desertion: where a spouse leaves the other party for two years continuously or cannot be located in cases in which they have left the country.
  • 3 Years Separation with consent: where a couple has not been staying together for a continuous period of three years. In this case, the party seeking divorce has to obtain consent from the other party prior to filing the divorce.
  • 4 Years Separation: where a couple has not been staying together for a continuous period of four years. In such a case, consent from the other spouse is not required.

It should be stressed that divorce laws in Singapore can be relatively complex and legal counsel is advised before proceeding with the divorce. A good divorce lawyer can advise you of your rights and assist you with legal issues that you will encounter when filing for your divorce. Please note that aftermath of a divorce is also equally important as much as the actual divorce proceedings. You need to know what to look out for after divorce and a good advice entails all of these aspects.


Do take note that grounds for divorce are different from grounds of annulment.

Read up on Expat Divorce in Singapore if you are a foreigner living and/or working in Singapore