divorce procedure

Document Sample
divorce procedure Powered By Docstoc
					Divorce Procedure
This fact sheet provides basic information for people who wish to apply for a divorce in
the Family Court, or wish to oppose an application for divorce in the Family Court.
General information on Family Court processes is available on the Family Court website
at http://www.subcourts.gov.sg/family.

             TWO-
DIVORCE IS A TWO-STAGE PROCESS

In Singapore, divorce is a two-stage process.

In the first stage, the Court will deal with the divorce itself. This means that the
             stage
Court will decide whether your marriage should be dissolved (legally ended).

                                                            matters.
In the second stage, the Court will deal with the ancillary matters The ancillary
               stage
matters are issues relating to the children, if you have any, maintenance, and
property that either or both of you may own.

You cannot remarry until you have obtained Final Judgment. This will only be
granted at the end of the second stage of your divorce case.

                                                         Plaintiff.
If you are the one applying for the divorce, you are the Plaintiff The other party
              Defendant.
is called the Defendant

                DOCUMENTS
FILING OF COURT DOCUMENTS

Please note that all Court documents must be filed or sent to the Court using the
Electronic Filing System (EFS). You can file documents through the EFS at the
LawNet/EFS Service Bureau. There are two Service Bureaus in Singapore:

                    Supreme Court LawNet / EFS Service Bureau
                             1 Supreme Court Lane
                         Level 1, Supreme Court Building
                                Singapore 178879
                                    6337 9164

                     Apollo Centre LawNet / EFS Service Bureau
                                  2 Havelock Road
                              #06-01/11 Apollo Centre
                                 Singapore 059763
                                     6538 9507

For more information on the LawNet/EFS Service Bureau, you may wish to visit
http://info.efs.com.sg/ServiceBureau.html Family Court staff will be able to
                      /ServiceBureau.html.
http://info.efs.com.sg/ServiceBureau.html
direct you to the Apollo Centre LawNet / EFS Service Bureau, but will be unable
to give you any specific information on procedures and charges adopted by the
Service Bureau.

                    OGRESS
HOW YOUR CASE MAY PROGRESS THROUGH THE FAMILY COURT
                  PROGR                FAMILY

These fact sheets contain general information only, and are not intended as legal advice. The
Family Court cannot give you legal advice. Only a qualified lawyer can give you independent
legal advice as to the merits of your case.
Divorce                                                                              Divorce Procedure
FACT SHEET

               APPLY for a divorce by filing a Writ for Divorce and related papers
               First day at Court:
               STATUS CONFERENCE IN CHAMBERS
               If you have not set down your application for hearing (formally asked the Court for a
               hearing date for your divorce) after six weeks, the Court will ask you to attend a Status
               Conference. A Status Conference is conducted by a Deputy Registrar of the Family Court.
               The Deputy Registrar will check if you have served your application on the other party. If
               you have, and the other party is present, the Deputy Registrar will make certain orders to
               help both parties reach an agreement on the divorce, if this is possible.
               Your next most likely Court date:
FIRST STAGE




               COUNSELLING with a professional Court              RESOLUTION CONFERENCE with a Family
               counsellor to help both parties resolve their      Court Judge to help both parties resolve
               differences over the emotional aspects of          their differences over the legal aspects of
               the divorce                                        the divorce
                          If there is no settlement:                       If there is a settlement:
                                Plaintiff asks the Court to set down the divorce for hearing
                 PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE IN CHAMBERS
               A Pre-Trial Conference is conducted by a
               Deputy Registrar of the Family Court. The            UNCONTESTED DIVORCE HEARING IN
               purpose of a Pre-Trial Conference is to help                  OPEN COURT
               both parties get ready for the divorce
               hearing.
               CONTESTED DIVORCE TRIAL IN OPEN COURT
                                         I N T E R I M        J U D G M E N T
               ANCILLARY MATTERS PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE IN CHAMBERS
               An Ancillary Matters Pre-Trial Conference is conducted by a Deputy Registrar of the Family
               Court. He or she may make certain orders to help both parties come to an agreement on
               the disputed ancillary matters, including orders for the disclosure of financial documents,
               or for parties to attend counselling or a resolution conference.
               COUNSELLING with a professional Court              RESOLUTION CONFERENCE with a Judge if
               counsellor if only children’s issues are in        the dispute also covers maintenance and
               dispute                                            property issues
SECOND STAGE




                          If there is no settlement                         If there is a settlement
               ANCILLARY      MATTERS                 PRE-TRIAL
               CONFERENCE IN CHAMBERS
               Filing of Affidavits of Assets and Means
               If there are children, a counsellor or social
               worker may have to prepare a report for the        CONSENT ANCILLARY MATTERS HEARING
               Judge to consider at the contested ancillary
               matters hearing
               CONTESTED ANCILLARY MATTERS HEARING
               IN CHAMBERS
                                            F I N A L      J U D G M E N T

WHERE CAN I GET THE FORMS I NEED?

The divorce court forms are available at the back of the Women’s Charter
(Matrimonial Proceedings) Rules (Cap 353, R 4, 2006 Rev Ed). The Affidavit of
These fact sheets contain general information only, and are not intended as legal advice. The
Family Court cannot give you legal advice. Only a qualified lawyer can give you independent
legal advice as to the merits of your case.
Divorce                                                             Divorce Procedure
FACT SHEET

Assets and Means and the Declaration of the Value of Matrimonial Assets are
available at Appendix B of the Subordinate Courts Practice Directions.

All forms are available in Microsoft Word format on the Family Court website at
http://www.subcourts.gov.sg/family.
http://www.subcourts.gov.sg/family

                 DIVORCE
FIRST STAGE: THE DIVORCE

                            only
This is intended as a guide only, and is not a substitute for independent legal
advice.

               PLAINTIFF
IF YOU ARE THE PLAINTIFF

Step 1          Apply

To apply for a divorce, complete the following documents, and file them through
the EFS:

!                                                         Particulars.
    Writ for Divorce, Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars
             Divorce

!                                Plan,
    Agreed or Proposed Parenting Plan if you have children below 21.

!                                           Plan,
    Agreed or Proposed Matrimonial Property Plan if there is a Housing and
    Development Board (HDB) flat to be divided between yourself and the
    Defendant.

Step 2          Serve

You must serve all the documents you have filed in Court on the Defendant, to
alert him or her that you have started this divorce case in Court.

You must also serve copies of an

!   Acknowledgment of Service

!   Memorandum of Appearance

You must serve all these documents in one of the following ways:

!               service,
    by personal service which means that the documents must be handed to the
    Defendant directly by someone authorized to do so, such as a court process
    server;

!   by registered post to the Defendant’s address, but only if the Defendant signs
    and returns the Acknowledgment of Service to you;

!                                 lawyer,
    by EFS on the Defendant’s lawyer if he or she has one, but only if the
    Defendant’s lawyer indicates on the documents that he or she accepts
    service on behalf of the Defendant.
These fact sheets contain general information only, and are not intended as legal advice. The
Family Court cannot give you legal advice. Only a qualified lawyer can give you independent
legal advice as to the merits of your case.
Divorce                                                             Divorce Procedure
FACT SHEET

Step 3          Set Down

If the Defendant and yourself have agreed on a divorce, and if the Defendant has
no dispute over what you have said in your Statement of Claim and Statement of
Particulars, you may set down your divorce case as an uncontested divorce after
the Defendant files a Memorandum of Appearance confirming that he or she is
not contesting the legal dissolution of the marriage. This is done by filing a
                                    Trial.
Request for Setting Down Action for Trial

                                       Defence,                       contested,
If, however, the Defendant has filed a Defence your divorce case is contested
and the procedure from this point on will become more complicated. If you
                                               Reply,
wish, you may file a further document called a Reply or a Reply and Defence to
Counterclaim if the Defendant has filed a Counterclaim, to close pleadings
Counterclaim,                                                         pleadings.
Then, you can alert the Court that you are ready for a contested divorce hearing
                                                   Trial.
date by filing Request for Setting Down Action for Trial Please see the section
on Contested Divorces below.

Step 4          Divorce Hearing

Your uncontested divorce hearing date normally takes place within three weeks
of the date that you file your Request for Setting Down Action for Trial. The Court
will send you a letter to tell you when the hearing date and time will be. You can
look up the hearing lists for the day on the Family Court website to confirm the
location of the hearing.

The uncontested divorce hearing will be quite short, usually lasting only five to
    minutes                                              court
ten minutes. A District Judge will hear the case in open court.

If the District Judge is satisfied that that the marriage has irretrievably broken
down, he or she will grant an Interim Judgment, and adjourn the ancillary
matters to be heard in chambers.

The Interim Judgment is a provisional order for divorce. It is made final, or
confirmed, after three months.

This is the end of the first stage of your divorce case.

               DEFENDANT
IF YOU ARE THE DEFENDANT

This is intended as a guide only. If you have been served with a set of legal
                            only
papers that you do not understand, seek independent legal advice immediately.

Step 1          Do you wish to contest the divorce?

If you wish to contest the divorce, you must be clear about what you are
contesting.

What is it that you do not agree with? Is it:
These fact sheets contain general information only, and are not intended as legal advice. The
Family Court cannot give you legal advice. Only a qualified lawyer can give you independent
legal advice as to the merits of your case.
Divorce                                                             Divorce Procedure
FACT SHEET

!   the legal end of the marriage? If so, you must take steps to alert the Court
    that you wish to contest the divorce.

!   the contents of the Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars that
    have been served on you? If so, you must take steps to alert the Court that
    you wish to contest the divorce. You may wish to ask the Plaintiff if he or she
    will consider coming to Court for a resolution conference to try to reach
    agreement on the Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars.

!   the Plaintiff’s claims, in the Statement of Claim, with regard to the children,
    maintenance or property? If you agree to a divorce, these issues can be put
    aside until after the divorce hearing. These are ancillary matters that are
    usually considered at the second stage of the divorce case.

Step 2          Enter an appearance

If you want the Court to hear you on any of the matters set out in the Statement
of Claim, you must enter an appearance by completing the Memorandum of
Appearance that was served on you with the divorce documents.

In the Memorandum of Appearance, indicate whether you are contesting the
divorce itself, or the ancillary matters, or both.

You must file the Memorandum of Appearance through the EFS within 8 days of
the date that the divorce documents were served on you. If you were served
outside Singapore, you have 21 days to file the Memorandum of Appearance.

Please note that if you choose to ignore the divorce documents, the Plaintiff is
allowed to ask the Court for a divorce hearing date by filing a Request to Set
Down Action for Trial. The Court may proceed to fix a divorce hearing date, hear
the case, and grant the divorce in your absence. The Court will not postpone the
divorce case for you.

Step 3          File a Defence

If you have entered an appearance, and have decided to contest the divorce, you
must file a Defence through the EFS.

If you agree to the divorce, but not to what the Plaintiff has said in the
Statement of Claim and Statement of Particulars, you must also file a
Counterclaim.
Counterclaim

You must personally serve the Defence (and Counterclaim, if you have decided
to file one) on the Plaintiff, or the Plaintiff’s lawyer if there is one, within 24
hours of filing.

Once you file a Defence, or Defence and Counterclaim, the divorce becomes
contested.
contested
These fact sheets contain general information only, and are not intended as legal advice. The
Family Court cannot give you legal advice. Only a qualified lawyer can give you independent
legal advice as to the merits of your case.
Divorce                                                             Divorce Procedure
FACT SHEET

CONTESTED DIVORCES

                  contested,
If the divorce is contested both parties will be called for a Pre-Trial Conference
before a Deputy Registrar of the Family Court.

The purpose of a Pre-Trial Conference is to get both parties ready for the
                                                                       court.
contested divorce hearing, which will take the form of a trial in open court The
Deputy Registrar may make orders for both parties to attend counselling with a
professional Court counsellor, or to attend a resolution conference with a Judge
at the Family Relations Centre.

If agreement is not possible, the Deputy Registrar will ask both parties to file
                          Chief.
Affidavits of Evidence in Chief

A contested divorce hearing is very different from an uncontested divorce
hearing. A trial will be conducted before a District Judge in open court. The
parties will each have to give evidence in open court, to prove their respective
cases. They will also be able to call witnesses, if any, to support their case.

At the end of the trial, the District Judge will grant an Interim Judgment if he or
she is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The claims on
the ancillary matters will be adjourned to be heard in chambers.

                  ANCILLARY
SECOND STAGE: THE ANCILLARY MATTERS

                  PRE
ANCILLARY MATTERS PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE

An Ancillary Matters Pre-Trial Conference is usually called within a month of the
Interim Judgment being granted. Both parties will be notified of the Court date
by letter.

At the Ancillary Matters Pre-Trial Conference, the Deputy Registrar will ask both
parties questions to see which of the ancillary matters are disputed. He or she
may make certain orders to help both parties come to an agreement on the
disputed ancillary matters, including orders for the disclosure of financial
documents, or for parties to attend counselling or a resolution conference.

If agreement is not possible, the Deputy Registrar will ask both parties to file
their Affidavits of Assets and Means, which must include all relevant supporting
                               Means
documents,
documents such as:

!   your latest CPF statement on contribution to Public / Residential Housing

!   your latest CPF statement showing balance in ordinary and special accounts

!   a valuation of the matrimonial property



These fact sheets contain general information only, and are not intended as legal advice. The
Family Court cannot give you legal advice. Only a qualified lawyer can give you independent
legal advice as to the merits of your case.
Divorce                                                             Divorce Procedure
FACT SHEET

!   documents evidencing payment of renovation costs and furnishings for the
    matrimonial property

!   statements of house mortgage instalment payments by cash

!   your bank book (all pages with entries) or latest bank statement for each
    bank account

!   a copy of each insurance policy in sole or joint names

!   any documents evidencing other assets

                                                              chambers,
The hearing of the ancillary matters is usually conducted in chambers meaning
that only the parties who are directly involved in the matter may attend. All the
evidence will be in the Affidavits of Assets and Means. The Judge does not
usually take oral evidence from you if you have already filed your Affidavit.

                                       OR
MATRIMONIAL ASSETS WORTH S$1.5 MILLION OR MORE
                   WORTH

Please note that if either party declares that the gross value of the matrimonial
property to be divided is S$1.5 million or more, your case must be transferred to
the High Court for hearing.

You would make such a declaration when the Deputy Registrar asks you to
complete the Declaration of the Value of Matrimonial Assets in the prescribed
form. The Deputy Registrar will normally ask both parties to complete the
declaration at the final Ancillary Matters Pre-Trial Conference.

FINAL JUDGMENT

Three months after the Court has granted an Interim Judgment, you may
                                               Interim            Final,
proceed to apply for the Certificate of Making Interim Judgment Final or Final
Judgment.
Judgment This will confirm your divorce, and conclude all Court proceedings.

               Plaintiff,
If you are the Plaintiff apply for your Final Judgment through the EFS / LawNet
Service Bureau.

               Defendant,
If you are the Defendant you must first apply for the Court’s permission to apply
                                        summons
for your Final Judgment. Apply by summons, with a supporting affidavit
explaining why you, and not the Plaintiff, have had to apply for the Final
Judgment.



Related Family Court publications

!   About Divorce Fact Sheet


These fact sheets contain general information only, and are not intended as legal advice. The
Family Court cannot give you legal advice. Only a qualified lawyer can give you independent
legal advice as to the merits of your case.
Divorce                                                             Divorce Procedure
FACT SHEET

!   Affidavits Fact Sheet

!   Counselling and You

!   General Information Fact Sheet

!   Summons Fact Sheet

!   The Family Relations Centre and You

!   Why Do I Have To See A Counsellor? (For Adults)

!   Why Do I Have To See A Counsellor? (For Children)




These fact sheets contain general information only, and are not intended as legal advice. The
Family Court cannot give you legal advice. Only a qualified lawyer can give you independent
legal advice as to the merits of your case.