Divorce in Singapore: What a Woman Must Know

Divorce in Singapore: What a Woman Must Know

Love can touch us at the deepest levels of our being and evoke powerful emotions and experiences. It can inspire us, bring us joy, and give our lives meaning. In contrast, when external stressors become overwhelming or internal truths surface, the individual you once married may no longer be the person with whom you can sustain a marriage.

Or maybe the divorce was thrown at you? You were blindsided? You never saw it coming? No matter what brings you to reading this article, chances are you are looking for answers.

Stay with us and learn what you must know if you are a woman and dealing with a divorce in Singapore

Understand the Grounds for Divorce in Singapore

Learning the grounds for divorce in Singapore allows individuals, and most of all women like you, to make informed decisions about whether your current situation meets the legal requirements to initiate and file a divorce. If you understand the grounds for divorce, it can help you navigate the divorce process more effectively and protect your rights and interests.

There are 4 Different Grounds for Divorce in Singapore

1. Adultery

Adultery is when a spouse has a sexual relationship outside of marriage. Providing evidence of adultery can lead to the dissolution of the marriage. Knowing this empowers women to understand the impact of infidelity, assess their situation, and take necessary actions.

2. Unreasonable Behavior

Unreasonable behavior is a valid ground for divorce, encompassing various negative actions by a spouse that make it impossible for the other spouse to continue living with them. It includes abuse (physical or verbal), substance abuse, financial irresponsibility, and neglecting responsibilities. 

You may interested to know that divorce is on the rise in Singapore, and that most divorces are initiated by women. What’s more “Unreasonable behavior” is the most commonly cited reason by women.

3. Desertion

Desertion, a ground for divorce, is when one spouse abandons the other without cause or intention to return. Typically, it must last at least two years for it to be valid.

4. Separation for a Specified Period

If a couple has lived apart for at least three years straight, it can be a valid reason for divorce. Mutual consent can shorten the separation period to one year.

While there may be many marital issues you might think would lead to a divorce, it’s important for women to understand the specific grounds for the legal process. If you know the grounds it will save you time, money, and frustration from trying to pursue another strategy that will get you nowhere.

Preparation for Divorce in Singapore

Whether you’re considering a divorce, have already made the decision, or have no choice in the matter, taking proactive steps to gather the necessary documents is a critical move to ensure your best start to the complex legal process.

Gather Necessary Documents

You will need to ensure you have the following documents readily available if you wish to file for divorce in Singapore:

A. Marriage Certificate

The marriage certificate is proof of the legal union and serves as a foundational document in divorce proceedings.

B. Identification Documents

It is vital to have copies of identification documents such as passports, NRICs, and driver’s licenses for spouses and children involved. These documents are necessary to establish identity and residency.

C. Financial Records

A comprehensive overview of financial assets and liabilities is essential for a fair distribution of property and financial settlements.

D. Property Document

Title deeds or rental agreements are documents that help establish ownership and play a significant role in determining the division of properties and assets acquired during the marriage.

Seek Legal Advice & Representation

Divorce proceedings involve complex legal matters, so all parties at a minimum should seek professional legal advice to learn their rights and options. If you decide you want representation, an experienced family lawyer can shepherd your through the legal divorce process and help you understand what comes first, what comes second, etc.

Ancillary Matters

The ancillary matters process is the second stage of divorce in Singapore. It occurs after the Interim Judgement if there is NO agreement between the parties. For an uncontested divorce in Singapore, however, parties no longer have to go through the Ancillary Matters phase since they have already agreed on the following: 

A. Child Custody and Care Arrangements

You’ll want to understand the different kinds of custody (sole custody, joint custody, and shared care) to best advocate for your children’s best interests. Take time to research your options.

B. Division of Matrimonial Assets

Women should understand their entitlements and rights regarding the property, investments, savings, and possessions acquired during the marriage. It’s good to speak to a lawyer about what would be the best things to optimize in the divorce. You would also benefit from speaking to a financial person who can look at the smartest financial pays for you now and for the long term.

C. Spousal Maintenance

Knowing about spousal maintenance is crucial for financially dependent women. And it’s crucial for women who are the primary breadwinners. Understanding the factors courts consider in determining spousal support enables strategic negotiations and informed decisions.

Read “Spousal Support, Alimony, and Maintenance: Who Gets It?”

D. Child Maintenance

Child maintenance is the financial support provided by one parent to the other for their child’s upbringing. Women must know their rights and the legal procedures for obtaining child maintenance, or for paying it.

E. Protection Orders

In situations involving domestic violence, harassment, or threats, women should know their options for obtaining protection orders. Understanding the legal provisions and processes related to restraining orders or injunctions enables women to take necessary legal actions to ensure their safety and the safety of their children.

Consider reading “Leaving an Abusive Marriage? There are Steps to Take First.”

Post-Divorce Considerations

The end of a marriage can be an emotionally challenging and life-altering experience for anyone. However, women must be aware of specific considerations that arise AFTER a divorce, such as:

A. Financial Planning and Restructuring

It’s best practice to evaluate, reorganize, or possibly begin the process of learning more about your financial situation to meet current and future needs. Create a realistic budget. If this seems hard to start, seek guidance from a financial advisor, and start taking steps to build your financial future.

Check out “Your 3 Most Important Financial Steps After Divorce.”

B. Reviewing Wills and Estate Planning

After the divorce, because things have changed, you’ll want to update your will and estate planning documents to reflect changes in beneficiaries and guardianship arrangements. It’s recommended you consult with an estate planning attorney who can help you understand what needs doing and what does not.

C. Updating Personal Information and Documents

Notify relevant institutions of your new marital status, update identification documents, and avoid potential complications during the transition.

Are you wanting to go back to your maiden name after divorce, or change it to something else?
Check out “How to Change Your Name After Divorce.”

D. Emotional Support and Counseling

Clearly, the divorce is not just a legal or financial matter! Throughout the divorce process and afterward, you deserve space for emotional support to process your myriad of feelings. These feelings may include grief, sadness, anger, overwhelm, and confusion. Counseling and/or the right divorce recovery group for women can provide guidance, inspiration, and with the group — community, so you don’t feel all alone.

As you deal with the divorce and start your new chapter afterward, take proactive steps to address these other parts of you, your emotions and your needs. Empower yourself by gaining knowledge, accessing resources, and meeting women like you. With thoughtful preparation and support, you can emerge from this experience stronger and more resilient than ever before.


Understanding the legal process, costs, grounds for divorce, and the advantages of seeking guidance from a family lawyer is crucial for women in Singapore considering divorce. Getting prepared and educated ensures the best decision-making, which in turn nurtures the best outcomes. We also urge you to not rely on your spouse to tell you how the divorce will go or how things will be split. You deserve expert professional support in service to you and your personal interests. 

Connect with a skilled family lawyer in Singapore so you feel anchored and protected. While there is no denying that there is a legal process to get through, your new, healthier other side is waiting for you.


Kathlene Go is a Senior content writer at OOM who knows her stuff in various subjects. When she’s not kicking butt at work, she loves diving into a good book and hanging out with her friends, preferably with a cold beer in hand.


Since 2012, SAS for Women has been entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its confusing afterward. SAS offers every woman six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.


*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”

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