Singapore Government Considering No-fault Divorce To Make Separation Less Painful

Ally Villar
·4-min read

The Government is seeking views from the public on how divorce laws and proceedings in Singapore can be less acrimonious. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is also considering “amicable divorce” to allow couples to divorce without citing a fault.

This is being done in the hopes of putting in place measures to better support divorcing couples and their children. MSF says they have been engaging social service practitioners from Divorce Support Specialist Agencies to further understand what can be done to lessen acrimony for families to move on.

Divorce Laws In Singapore: MSF To Consider Amicable Divorce

divorce laws in singapore
divorce laws in singapore

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The option of no-fault divorce or “amicable divorce” can allow couples to separate without bringing up faults. This includes unreasonable behaviour, adultery, and blaming the other party for marital breakdown.

MSF has been seeking public feedback from Sunday (2 May), on the suggestion of amicable divorce. If this is included in divorce laws in Singapore, it will not only make divorce less painful, but will also offer other benefits.

The new amicable divorce model also lets couples mutually consent to the separation without having to cite any of the five facts that currently prove the grounds for an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”.

The Five Current ‘Facts of Separation’ And Divorce In Singapore

There are three fault-based facts under the Women’s Charter and these are adultery, unreasonable behaviour and discretion. These cover non-Muslim divorces.

There are also two facts of separation which are:

  • Separation of three years with the spouse’s consent

  • Four years’ separation without consent

Current divorce proceedings also require the couple to file one as the plaintiff and the other as the defendant.

But under amicable divorce, the couple may jointly file for a divorce without the need for there to be a plaintiff and defendant. This sets them up in an adversarial relationship, according to the Minister of State for Social and Family Development, Sun Xueling.

Making Divorce Less Acrimonious And More Amicable

divorce laws in singapore
divorce laws in singapore

Image source: iStock

To understand how to better support couples going through a divorce, Ms Sun says the MSF has been engaging divorced parents. They have also been engaging social service professionals working with divorcees within the past six months.

They’ve found that the need to cite fault in divorce papers can cause couples to revisit the pain and acrimony. Providing details about how the marriage broke down only makes it difficult for both parties to move on.

“At the end of the day, we hope to make the divorce process less painful for couples who have decided to embark on divorce despite their best intentions to save the marriage,” says Ms Sun, according to The Straits Times.

The public consultation paper also clarifies that the aim is to make the divorce process less acrimonious but not “easier.”

Even with the new proposed amicable divorce option, current safeguards will still remain. Such as how couples have to be married for at least three years for them to file a divorce.

The five current facts for divorce will also remain and couples may still file as plaintiff or defendant.

Helping Children Cope With Divorce

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Parents have also asked for more support regarding helping their children cope with the divorce process. Due to this, MSF has been seeking views on whether programmes and services that help with such should be made compulsory.

The Children In Between programme helps both the parent and the child cope better with the separation and its impact. Families are sent to this programme by the court but there also some who attend voluntarily.

But fewer than 200 children attend this programme each year. The MSF spokesman says the rates of the programme could be low for various reasons. This may include parents who are not aware of how much their divorce can impact their children.

The spokesman says the current proposals are still “exploratory.” The ministry will be considering the feedback they get from the public consultation exercise which is up on their official website.

The public may also e-mail their views to PublicFeedback@msf.gov.sg until June 3.

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