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Singapore Divorce Lawyer - Lam & Co Blog

For most people, divorce is a rare and scary thing. You simply do not have any previous experience with it and there are many horror stories you have heard from your friends. Lam & Co.'s expert divorce lawyers are focused on sharing information with you to assist you as much as possible in making painless and correct decisions.

Singapore Divorce: Instant Divorce, Is There Such A Thing?

The Indian Supreme Court has struck down a law that gave Muslim men the right to instantly divorce their wives. The decision was by a majority of 3 to 2. 

What is the situation in Singapore?

Singapore Divorce: Muslims

For muslims undergoing divorce, the situation is somewhat complex and revolves around the husband communicating the word, "talak", to the wife 3 times. "Talak" is Arabic for, "to release" or "to divorce". There is significant controversy whether (a) the communication must be made directly in the presence of the wife and in the presence of 2 reliable witnesses or (b) proof of communication (or admission of communication by the wife) is sufficient. 

This has led to the issue whether it was possible to have Instant Divorce by various modes of electronic communications. At least one man has resorted to "ambushing" his estranged wife by giving her an innocuous excuse to meet up and then springing out with his father and his best friend and uttering, "talak", to his wife. It is helpful to appreciate the context in which uttering talak 3 times arose. 

Before Islam, the practice in Arabia allowed men to say talak as many times as they wished. Islam then stepped in and limited the number of times that a man could say talak on separate occasions to only 3 times. On the other hand, he could say talak 3 times on one occasion but this meant that the man and his wife could not reconcile unless she marries another person, consummates that subsequent marriage and thereafter divorces that other person. 

The purpose appears to be to force the man to consider carefully before saying talak even once, much less 3 times. In Singapore, the Syariah Court carefully considers all the evidence and the testimony of all witnesses before deciding whether the man's utterance was clear and whether he had a clear intention never to reconcile.

Singapore Divorce: Non-muslims

The Women's Charter clearly says that the Court shall initially make an Interim Judgment for Divorce. Three months after the date of the Interim Judgment, the Court can then grant the Final Judgment. This effectively works as a waiting period for the couple. 

During this time, either party can go to Court to give reasons why the Interim Judgment should not be made Final. These reasons should be based on material facts that had not been brought before the Court earlier. The Court can "by general or special order from time to time" fix a shorter "waiting period". 

However, this is usually based on special circumstances which the Court thinks warrants a reduction of the usual 3 months' "waiting period". Where such special circumstances exist, the Court has in the past reduced the period to a month and even just a week. For more information on such special circumstances, please call 65351800.

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Your husband is in the shower. His handphone rings and you pick up the call. A woman says, "Hi, honey, thanks so much for the flowers." When you ask who she is calling, the woman hangs up. Your husband has caller ID and you call the woman back but she does not pick up. 

What should you do? 

Another example: You get a WhatsApp message and you open it. It is a sexually suggestive message addressed to someone else. Then you check and find that it had come from your wife's handphone number. 

What should you do? 

First of all, you should not straightaway confront your spouse.

You should: 

1. Preserve the evidence. Of course, if the message has come into your handphone, you should back it up, print it out and keep the copies in a safe place (which should be someplace other than the home). Then, you should change the password on your handphone. 

If the message is on your spouse's handphone or computer, you can consider taking a photo with your own handphone or sending a copy to yourself. In this connection, you should also consider whether you have your spouse's consent (express or implied) to use his (or her) handphone and for what purpose. If your husband (or wife) has asked to help answer his calls, then that is express consent. Implied consent can be from his previous conduct in allowing you to look at his handphone or answer SMS-es for him. Whether his consent extends to taking copies can be a complex legal question.

2. Review the evidence (when you have calmed down and are in a place safe from prying eyes). Take a look at the message with fresh, objective eyes. Can there be an innocent explanation? Was it nothing more than an innocent mistake? What if your wife's colleague was playing a practical joke on her?

3. Review your relationship. Is it still all good? Do you two still have great, exciting sex? Does he still do all the little things that he knows you like best, e.g., the occasional shoulder rub, holding your hand, etc? Do you still have that special sense that it is just the two of you against the rest of the world? 

Or, has your husband become self-absorbed, withdrawn or emotionally distant? Did he get angry or defensive and flare up at you over minor things or innocent, normal questions? Did he complain that you were too controlling of him and his movements? Was he out of the home for more and longer periods, using excuses like business trips, more demanding situations at the office, after hours meetings, etc?

4. Seek independent help. You may wish to reach out to a trusted and wise friend or religious leader for an alternative assessment of the situation. In any case, you should seriously consider seeking independent, professional advice from a marriage counselor and a lawyer.

Do you have any questions? Please call +65  6.535.1800.

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For most people, divorce is a rare and scary thing. You simply do not have any previous experience with it and there are many horror stories you have heard from your friends.

In this article, we share with you how to choose the right divorce lawyer for you.

We have come up with a list of things to do. Do them and you will dramatically increase your chances of choosing the right lawyer.

1. Choose a lawyer who is easy to contact.

If you cannot even contact the lawyer easily, how can he be the right lawyer for you? What if you have an urgent question which a simple phone call can resolve? Are you able to get in touch with your lawyer?

At Lam & Co, our hotline (at 6.535.1800) is "On" 24 hours a day, every day of the year. We try our very best to pick up each and every call. If we are in the gym shower or are unable to take your call immediately, we have caller ID and we will call you back as soon as we can.

2. Choose a lawyer who listens to you.

Did the lawyer give you a chance to say what was on your mind? Did he listen to what you said? Did he ask you how he can help you? Did he answer your question directly and completely? Did you get a chance to tell him the background to your case?

3. Choose a lawyer who is clear about how he charges.

An example of a clear charging policy a package fee subject only to the condition that your spouse cooperates fully throughout the case. This way, you know precisely what you need to arrange with your spouse (cooperation) and exactly what you have to pay the lawyer (quoted fee).

4. Choose a lawyer you are comfortable with.

This last item is the most important of all.

After speaking with the lawyer on the phone, go to his office and meet him (or her) in person. Talk to him and find out what level of personal compatibility you have with him and how comfortable you are sharing with him (or her) intimate details of your case.

It is vital that the two of you are able to work closely and effectively together in order to achieve your common goals. 

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An uncontested divorce is one where (i) both parties decide to divorce amicably; and (ii) they also settle between themselves all the terms (e.g., the children, maintenance, flat, legal costs, etc.).

Even after the above two conditions are satisfied, the Singapore Court has other conditions which must be satisfied before it will grant the divorce.

For example, either the husband or the wife must be a Singapore citizen. Otherwise, at least one of them must have been habitually resident in Singapore for the most recent 3 years (leading up to the filing of the application for Divorce). If none of these conditions are satisfied, the Singapore Court will not accept the case.

Apart from the above, for couples who have been married for 3 years or more, they must also satisfy at least one of the following conditions:

  • (a) 3 years' separation and the defendant consents to the divorce.
  • (b) 4 years' separation.
  • (c) the defendant committed adultery (and the plaintiff (applicant) finds it intolerable to live with the defendant).
  • (d) the defendant's behaviour was so unreasonable that the plaintiff (applicant) cannot reasonably be expected to live with the defendant.
  • (e) 2 years' desertion (i.e., the defendant abandoned the plaintiff for 2 years).

It is also important to ensure that the Housing & Development Board (HDB) have no objections to what the parties decide to do with their HDB flat after the divorce.

In order to ensure that all the details are in order, it is best to call Lam & Co. (at 6.535.1800) to discuss the matter. We will be glad to address critical issues such as:

  • (a) Is not having sex with your spouse for 3 years the same as 3 years' separation? Is sleeping in separate rooms for 3 years the same as 3 years' separation? In order to separate from your spouse by moving out to a different address, must you update the address in your Identity Card? If 3 years ago, you moved out but did not update the address in your Identity Card, can you still get a divorce based on 3 years' separation?
  • (b) What is the difference between joint custody and sole custody of the children? What does it mean if you let your spouse get care and control of the children?
  • (c) Can you split up the children after the divorce so that each of you can apply for an HDB flat with one of the children? Would the Court accept such a reason for splitting up the children? If not, what reasons can the Court accept for splitting up the children?
  • (d) How to check that HDB have no objection to what you intend to do with the HDB flat? What will happen if HDB objects? Will this stop the divorce?
  • (e) What is the point of S$1.00 per month maintenance (which you keep hearing your friends talking about)? When your spouse remarries, do you still have to continue paying her maintenance? 
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