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Getting a Divorce

A divorce is the legal procedure that ends a marriage. To get a divorce, you will need to file for a divorce with the Family Justice Courts (civil marriages) or the Syariah Court (Muslim marriages).

Civil Divorces

To get a divorce, you need to file for divorce with the Family Justice Courts and comply with the legal requirements of divorce. The law on divorce for civil marriages in Singapore is governed by the Women’s Charter.

To better protect the interests of children affected by their parents’ divorce, divorcing parents with minor children below 14 years of age (to include children below 21 years old at a later phase), who disagree on divorce and ancillary matters, will need to attend a mandatory parenting programme before they can file for divorce. The programme will cover a range of issues that may affect their children including housing, finance, care arrangements and positive co-parenting after divorce. Applicants are able to apply for this programme online via the MSF divorce support microsite from end November 2016.

For More Info:

  • Family Justice Courts 
    Established in 2014, the Family Justice Courts (FJC) are a restructure of our Court system to better serve litigants by bringing together all family related work under a specialised body of courts.  FJC is comprised of the Family Division of the High Court, the Family Courts and the Youth Courts and is administered by the Presiding Judge of the FJC. The cases dealt with by FJC include those relating to divorce and ancillary matters, family violence, maintenance, adoption and guardianship, youth court, mental capacity and probate and succession. Its mission is to make justice accessible to families and youth through effective counselling, mediation and adjudication
  • Divorce Procedures
  • Divorce Support
  • FAQs on Divorce

Muslim Divorces

To file for a divorce, you need to apply at the Syariah Court (SYC) and comply with the requirements under the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA). Parties applying for divorce will be required to attend marriage counselling at one of SYC's appointed counselling agencies.

Divorce may have negative effects on the affected couples, on their children, on their families and on the community at large. Hence, Islam discourages divorce.

Syariah Court (SYC)

If couples decide to proceed with divorce after attending counselling, they will be required to attend  mediation. The aim is to help couples settle the ancillary issues amicably. If parties cannot reach a settlement, the Court schedules a hearing and makes the appropriate orders on divorce and related issues under the provisions of (AMLA).

For more information on the SYC, click here


Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs)

The Ministry has appointed four DSSAs in January 2015 as a recommendation of the Family Justice Committee to provide support and care to divorced/divorcing families, in the form of services and programmes. DSSA staff are equipped with specialised skills to handle divorce issues. 

Child-Centric Approach

With a strong child-centric approach, DSSA services and programmes help parents: 

  • Make an informed decision on divorce
  • Come to terms with the divorce
  • Be equipped with positive co-parenting skills
  • Resolve underlying conflicts in the best interests of the child
  • Learn skills to manage challenges that may result from divorce

Services and Programmes

The DSSAs provide services such as: 

  • information and non-legal advice on divorce-related financial and housing issues
  • case management
  • counselling
  • family dispute management
  • support on child access
  • support groups  

They also run evidence-based programmes to help parents and children cope with changes in family structure.

Click here for DSSA locations.


DSSA Programmes

Divorce Support Specialist Agencies offer programmes which adopt a child-centric approach. These programmes are delivered by specialist counsellors and social workers to help   divorcing and divorced families understand the impact of divorce on children.    

A. Mandatory Parenting Programme 

The Mandatory Parenting Programme is a one-to-one consultation session for parents with minor children before they file for divorce. It is designed to encourage divorcing couples make informed decisions that prioritise the well-being of children.  

This is a two-hour session by counsellors from Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs). All parents with minor children are required under the Women’s Charter Section 94A to attend this programme if they do not have a signed formal agreement pertaining to a parenting plan and all other divorce matters. 

The consultation aims to help parents understand:

  • the financial challenges of divorce
  • how divorce impacts living arrangements
  • child custody and access
  • the importance of co-parenting and having a parenting plan

For more information on the Mandatory Parenting Programme, please click here

B. Parenting PACT 

Parenting PACT is a one-time consultation session for divorced parents with children who are 21 years old and below. 

The session aims to help parents:

  • understand the impact of divorce on their children,
  • learn cooperative co-parenting strategies
  • practise self-care, and 
  • get more information about the community support resources available

This is a two-hour session conducted by family counsellors from the Divorce Support Specialist Agencies. 

Divorced parents who are required by the Courts to attend this parenting programme will get a notification to attend Parenting PACT by post. 

 

C. Children in Between (CiB)

Children in Between is a programme for parents and their children who are between 6 to less than 15 years of age. 

The workshops under CiB cover topics for both parents and children:

CiB for Parents CiB for Children

Practical Co-parenting skills

    Positive ways to cope with their parents' divorce

           

Ways to reduce parental conflict

    Exploring feelings and fears, myths and truths

Understanding the needs of their children ia divorce situation

    Skills to share their feelings

This free workshop is run by family counsellors from the Divorce Support Specialist Agencies. 

Both parents and their children are encouraged to attend the workshops in separate sessions. 

 

D. Supervised Exchange & Visitation Programme

The Supervised Exchange and Visitation Programme helps high conflict families manage difficulties over child access matters. It provides a safe platform for children who express strong reluctance and discomfort about meeting their access parent. Counsellors help by mitigating distrust and working on the complex family dynamics. Supervised Exchange and Visitation is an interim measure to facilitate families to work towards independent child access. The end goal is to help parents co-parent effectively and build secure parent-child relationships over time without compromising the child’s sense of personal and emotional safety.

Thye Hua Kwan Centre for Family Harmony and Care Corner Centre for Co-parenting are the two appointed Divorce Support Specialist Agencies that offer the Supervised Exchange and Visitation Programme. 

This programme is strictly for court ordered cases only.

 

E. Support Groups and Counselling

During counselling sessions, individuals and families come together in a safe and confidential platform where they can share experiences and offer mutual support to one another. 

Some free support programmes at the DSSAs are:

Care Corner Centre For Co-Parenting

Enlivened Hearts Women's Support Group

The 4-session group work is designed to help women cope with the pain of divorce and to recover from the emotional trauma.

HELP Family Service Centre

Video Conference

A direct video link service to the courts to apply for the enforcement of existing spousal and/or child maintenance orders.

RAINBOWS

A peer support group that facilitates emotional healing for parents and children.

The Big Brother and Big Sister (BBBS)

A befriending programme for children aged 10 to 16 years who are affected by their parents' divorce.

The Family Enrichment Programme (FEP)

This programme provides opportunities for personal growth and development for families by strengthening their family support system.

PPIS As-Salaam Family Support Centre

M.A.W.A.R Support Programme for Single Mothers

This programme provides support to divorced mothers with dependent children.

SALAAM Support Programme

For children/adolescents who experience grief arising from loss of parents through divorce.

Thye Hua Kwan Centre for Family Harmony @ Commonwealth

Mindfulness Parenting

This programme helps divorcing/divorced parents to improve their communication skills for better parent-child relationships.

Daddy's for Life

A support programe to help divorcing/divorced fathers learn from each other's experiences, and build a strong relationship with their children.

For more information on divorce support services and programmes, you may email MSF at  dssaprogrammes@msf.gov.sg


 

Maintenance Support

The Women’s Charter was enhanced in 2011 and allows the Family Justice Court to utilise a wider range of measures with respect to maintenance enforcement cases. 

A referral protocol between the Community Justice Centre (CJC) and Social Services Offices (SSOs) was put in place to ensure that vulnerable families receive the necessary support they require. The protocol allows:

  • parties (both men and women) identified at the CJC to be referred to the nearest SSO for timely assistance; and
  • parties (both men and women) seeking help at the SSOs to be referred to the CJC for legal assistance.

In both cases, as long as a party is in need, the SSOs and/or CJC will render appropriate assistance, e.g. cash or food vouchers. The primary concern is to ensure the family’s welfare.

From 1 July 2016, a husband or ex-husband who is incapacitated (supported by medical certification) up to the point of divorce, cannot earn a livelihood and is unable to support himself may apply for maintenance. This incapacitation must be evident throughout the maintenance application process.

Reporting Maintenance Debts

Divorcees whose ex-spouses fail to provide maintenance can report maintenance debt to the DP SME Commercial Credit Bureau (DP).

After the applicant files a report, DP will: 
  • send quarterly SMS reminders to the defaulter for payment to be made (subject to availability of contact number); and
  • record the maintenance arrears as accorded in the court order (i.e. money that is owed and should have been paid earlier) as monetary debts under the defaulter’s information in DP’s database, which may affect his/her credit worthiness.
The report can be made by:
  • claimants of maintenance; or
  • their caregiver; A one-time registration fee of $53.50 is charged for each case file lodged with DP. Low income complainants as well as cases referred through the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) are entitled to a fee waiver.  

Other services

DP also offers an optional “debt collection service” where their officers conduct telephone or site-visits to locate the defaulter  A 20% commission fee is charged for each successful payment received through this service. 

DP usually recommends this service for cases where the defaulter has gone missing or as a last resort for those who ignore repeated reminders. 

You may contact DP at 6320 1900 or email cs@dpgroup.com.sg

For a full list of support services provided by various centres and organisations to address issues arising from divorce, click here


 
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Last Reviewed On Sun, Feb 19, 2017