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Expat divorce and child custody in Singapore: What you need to know

Although Singapore has recently been voted the best place in the world for expats to live in 2015, expat life isn’t always filled with champagne brunches, eternal summers, tropical weekend getaways, and idyllic island lifestyles. When the stress of an expat assignment starts to take its toll on your relationship, and thoughts of getting a divorce in Singapore become reality, finding the right answers can make the difference between seamless legal dissolution, and unexpected jail time for committing a crime you didn’t realize you were committing. Questions about immigration, resident status, jurisdiction, and cross-border child custody can be overwhelming for expats; we asked for legal advice about post-nuptial child custody and how to get a divorce in Singapore. Here’s what you need to know.

My marriage is over, so now what?

Did you know that you must be married at least three years before filing for divorce in Singapore? Manage the ordeal of your marriage’s breakup by getting as acquainted as possible with family and divorce laws in Singapore. Engage a qualified expat divorce lawyer to quell anxieties over the how and what to do regarding expat divorce and child custody issues to ensure that you are properly supported throughout the process.

How does an expat get a divorce in Singapore?

Ending a relationship is never easy. Severing matrimonial ties in a foreign country is even more difficult. As divorce laws here are usually different than in your home country, you are required to have been married for three years before you can file for divorce in Singapore. There are two exceptions to this, however: if you can prove that you will remain in Singapore, or if you can prove that you have suffered ‘hardship’ and/or ‘depravity’ in your marriage. It’s also worth knowing that a typical divorce in Singapore can take up to six months to be granted.
Finding an expat divorce in Singapore


What happens with children after the divorce?

You may have left friends, family, and property behind, but you should think twice before going back home without your former partner’s permission. Under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a parent is not allowed to relocate to a foreign country with their children without the consent of the other parent. It is considered child abduction if a parent decides to leave Singapore with their children without a proper custodial agreement in place.

I’m on a Dependent Pass (DP); will I have to leave Singapore after the divorce is granted?

Unfortunately, in most cases, the answer is ‘yes’. Once you have divorced your partner, you have lost your legal right to stay in Singapore.

We own property outside of Singapore; what happens to our home property overseas after our divorce?

If the property is determined by the Court to be a matrimonial asset, it can be divided in the Marital Agreement. This can include your family home that you lived in prior to becoming an expat in Singapore.

The experts at Gloria James-Civetta & Co have been navigating Singapore divorce law with success. Benefit from their years of experience via a free, 20-minute consultation with a lawyer who can further explain the divorce process and help to assess whether you meet the requirements to file for divorce in Singapore.

Want to know more? Access their expatdivorce.sg and singaporedivorcelawyer.com.sg websites.

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