Alternatives to Divorce in Singapore

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

Rather than resorting to a divorce, there are alternative modes of separation in the event the marriage goes sour. Knowing all the legal options is extremely vital depending on the situation of your marriage. 

This applies especially if you do not meet the requirements for a divorce. For example, you have been married to your spouse for less than three years. 

Separation 

Separation is suitable in situations where:

  • You and your spouse may want to live apart from each other but wish to stay legally married; 
  • You and your spouse are contemplating reconciliation;
  • You wish to rely on the grounds of separation to apply for a divorce 

Unlike divorce, there are no prerequisites to commence separation. Moreover, upon separation, you and your spouse will not be free to remarry. 

Types of Separation 

There are also various types of separation, such as:

Informal separation 

The most flexible type of separation is where you and your spouse live apart based on mutually agreed terms. Both parties can live in the same house, but they will lead separate lives (i.e., discontinuation of spousal duties). Usually, both parties are also financially independent of each other. 

Separation with a Deed of Separation 

This document sets out the terms and conditions of the separation and will also cover living and financial arrangements. The Deed of Separation is usually drafted by a lawyer. 

This method is useful if you and your spouse are considering divorce proceedings in the future. The deed will usually cover the ancillary proceedings in a divorce and will therefore prepare both parties for the termination of the marriage. 

Judicial separation

This involves both parties filing for an official judgement of separation in front of the court. For a judicial separation to be processed, you must have been married to your spouse for at least three years, and your marriage must have been irretrievably broken down. If successful, you will receive a judgement of judicial separation from the court.

A judicial separation is appropriate when you believe that your spouse will ignore the deed of separation. Failure to comply with a court order is an offence, such that your spouse may be deterred from breaching the judgement of judicial separation. 

Is divorce still an option in the future? 

Yes, you can still file for a divorce in the future despite having been separated before. There is a minimum requirement of three years of separation before filing for a divorce with your spouse’s consent. Otherwise, four years of separation is needed. 

What is an annulment and how is it different from a divorce?

An annulment of marriage is a court order declaring the marriage between two parties null and void. Both divorce and annulment are similar as they both result in the dissolution of your marriage. However, the main differences are:

Divorce:

  • Even after the divorce, the marriage will still be legally recognised as having existed
  • In a divorce, the matrimonial assets will be split between the parties 
  • In deciding how the assets will be split, the court will consider factors such as the needs of each party after divorce, and the contributions towards the matrimonial assets 


Annulment:

  • The effect of an annulment is that the marriage never existed. It would not be recognised
  • All property and liability will be returned to their original respective owners in an annulment 

What are the requirements for an annulment?

To be eligible for an annulment, your marriage must be either void or voidable. A void marriage is a non-marriage. Examples of this include but are not limited to: 

  • Underage marriages; 
  • Marriage between persons who, at the date of marriage, are already married to another person; 
  • Marriage between people of the same sex 

In contrast, a voidable marriage is one that is legally valid until it is annulled by a judgement of nullity. Examples of this include but are not limited to:

  • Where the marriage has not been consummated due to the incapacity of one party to do so; 
  • Where the marriage has not been consummated because one party has willfully refused to do so;
  • There was no valid consent to the marriage because of duress, mistake, mental disorder or otherwise 

Benefits of annulment compared to divorce

One advantage of annulment is that there is no three year waiting period, unlike with divorce. Moreover, the marital status will be reinstated to “single” once a judgement of nullity is obtained, instead of being considered as “divorced” at the end of the divorce proceedings. An annulment also does not affect the legitimacy of any children born during the marriage. 

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires drafting legal documents like deeds and wills, mediation, or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences, and high-profile criminal cases to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Criminal Intimidation in Singapore

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

Did you know that you can be criminally charged even if you have not inflicted any physical harm? The act of criminal intimidation, otherwise causing someone to feel threatened, is an arrestable offence in Singapore. 

What is Criminal Intimidation? 

According to Section 503 of the Penal Code, whoever threatens to cause any injury to any person, reputation, or property, with the intention of causing any alarm to that person; or to cause that person to carry out any unlawful act to avoid the threat by the offender, is guilty of criminal intimidation.

Criminal Intimidation or Assault?

Section 351 of the Penal Code defines “assault” as a gesture or preparation that the offender intends for a person to think that criminal force is going to be used against them. However, there are two key differences between assault and criminal intimidation. 

Words cannot amount to assault. This means that merely saying “I will beat you up” without showing any indication of actually going to do so will not constitute assault. However, under criminal intimidation, these words could potentially be seen as a threat intended to cause alarm.

Penalties for criminal intimidation are harsher than those for assault. For assault, the maximum punishment is three months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $1,500, or both. The maximum punishment for criminal intimidation is two years of imprisonment or a fine, or both.

Consequences of Criminal Intimidation 

According to Section 506 of the Penal Code, anyone found guilty of criminal intimidation shall be imprisoned for up to two years, or fined, or both. If the threat was to cause death or grievous hurt, destruction of any property by fire, or any offence punishable with death or imprisonment for up to seven years or more, the punishment will be up to ten years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.

However, if you threaten to harm someone and actually end up hurting that person, be it physically or by causing reputational damage, you will likely be charged with criminal intimidation as well as another offence for actually causing such harm. 

What If Someone Threatens Me With Words?

If someone threatens to inflict bodily injury, property damage, or damage to your reputation, such a threat may amount to criminal intimidation. The threat must be made with the intention of causing alarm or coercing the victim to do something they would not otherwise do.

Making another person fearful of being hurt by you may also amount to the offence of assault under section 351 of the Penal Code. Apart from criminal sanctions, it may also be possible to file a civil action for assault.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently being threatened with words, you should make a police report immediately and consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences and high-profile criminal cases to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Criminal Compensation in Singapore

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

When a person is convicted of an offence in Singapore, the court may order the offender to compensate the victim through a Compensation Order. This is because Section 359 of the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 makes it mandatory for the court to consider a compensation order when convicting an offender. In general, compensation orders can be made for any offence punishable by law in Singapore. 

What is a Compensation Order?

A compensation order allows you or your representative to recover compensation without having to sue for it. This is especially useful in cases where suing might be an inadequate or impractical course of action. 

If granted, the compensation order will be made in addition to the offender’s existing sentence, such as a jail term and/or a fine. 

When does the Court issue a Compensation Order?

The court will issue a compensation order only if it is appropriate to do so. This could be when the compensation amount is easily determinable, where suing the offender is not a more appropriate remedy, or where the compensation order will not cause immoderate hardship to the offender.

The compensation amount to be determined by the court should be sufficient for the victim to make up for the losses suffered. For instance, if the victim incurs medical bills due to injuries caused by the offender, the compensation amount will include the full amount of such bills. However, the amount of compensation ordered will not exceed what would be reasonably obtainable in a lawsuit. The severity of the offence does not affect the compensation amount.

The court may find it appropriate to make a compensation order in cases such as:

  • Domestic abuse of maids
  • Cheating
  • Assault
  • Causing harm
  • Theft 

Payment of the Compensation

If the court orders the offender to pay the victim compensation, it may be paid through:

  • Instalments;
  • Seizure and sale of any property that the offender might own, with proceeds from the sale going to the victim; 
  • Appointing a receiver to take possession and sell any property owned by the offender, with the proceeds from the sale going to the victim;
  • Searching the offender and confiscating any money found on them, up to the full amount of compensation

Non-payment of compensation could result in imprisonment for the duration decided by the court. However, if the court decides not to call for compensation, the victim may still be able to claim compensation under the Community Justice Centre’s Victim Assistance Scheme (VAS)

Engaging a Lawyer

As crime victims are not guaranteed compensation for harm caused by offenders, it is best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options. 

Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Defamation : a quick explainer

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

In Singapore, a civil action for defamation can be brought under tort law. Under the tort of defamation, there are two types of defamation: 

  1. Libel (which occurs in writing or broadcasting); and 
  2. Slander (occurs in speech)

Defamation occurs when someone publishes a statement that diminishes the subject’s standing in the eyes of third parties. The goal of defamation law is, therefore, to protect the subject’s reputation and to repair any damage done to the subject.

In the heavily publicised court case between American actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, Ms. Heard had written an opinion piece in a newspaper about surviving domestic violence, which Mr. Depp challenged in court as a case of Ms. Heard trying to defame him.  

Criminal defamation 

In Singapore, a person may be liable for a defamatory act if three elements are present:

  1. The statement in question must be defamatory;
  2. The statement in question must refer to the victim;
  3. The statement in question must be published or communicated to a third party.

Defamation is a criminal offense under Section 499 of the Singapore Penal Code. If a person intends to defame another person, or knows that what he or she says will harm that person, then that person has committed a crime punishable by a fine and imprisonment for up to two years.

Civil defamation 

Even if the person had no intention of defaming, he or she may be held liable under Singapore’s civil defamation law, known as the Defamation Act. Intention is not a factor in civil defamation.

It makes no difference whether the effect of your written or spoken words is harmful to someone. If you are found liable for civil defamation, you may be required to pay monetary damages and publicly apologise to the victims. It should be noted that if the speech is harmful but true, it will not be considered defamatory. Defamation necessitates the person telling a lie about the other person.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires drafting legal documents like deeds and wills, mediation, or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences, and high-profile criminal cases to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

What are sham marriages?

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

A sham marriage, also known as a marriage of convenience, is a marriage between two people solely for the purpose of obtaining a benefit or advantage. Many people who enter into sham marriages are in financial trouble and thus easy prey for syndicates. Otherwise, foreign nationals who are desperate for work in Singapore may resort to such schemes to extend their stay.

Are sham marriages legal in Singapore? 

Entering into a sham marriage is illegal in Singapore. According to section 57C of the Immigration Act (IA), if you enter into a marriage knowing that the purpose of the marriage is to help either you or your spouse gain an entry permit to Singapore, and either you or your spouse is offered a reward for entering into the marriage, you will be guilty of an offence. This applies even if the marriage is solemnised outside of Singapore.

Any person who arranges or otherwise assists in arranging a sham marriage is also guilty of committing an offence. In both cases, if convicted, the guilty offender is liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 10 years.

How Can You Get Out of a Sham Marriage?

1. Apply to annul your marriage

Under section 105(aa) read with section 11A of the Women’s Charter, a marriage can be ruled void if it was solemnised on or after 1 October 2016. You can apply to have your marriage annulled. However, even after annulment, you can still be criminally liable under section 57C of the IA for entering into a sham marriage in the first place.

To avoid such a liability, you will have to prove that even though one purpose of your marriage was to help either you or your spouse gain an entry permit to Singapore, you had reasonable grounds to believe that the marriage would result in a genuine marital relationship.

2. File for divorce

Alternatively, you may file for a divorce. This option applies even if your marriage was solemnised on or before 1 October 2016.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires drafting legal documents like deeds and wills, mediation, or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Does sexual consent also apply to drunk people?

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

In previous articles, we explained the meaning of consent as well as sexual offences. Based on a recent case in Singapore, we will explore whether consent also applies if the victim of an alleged sexual offence was drunk.

In his oral judgement on the case, the judge noted from a previous apex court decision that the mere fact that the alleged victim was intoxicated was not enough to establish a lack of capacity for consent.

Definition of sexual consent

Consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It must be freely and actively given and can be withdrawn at any time. Consent may be given by words or actions (or a combination of both). 

Does consent apply when one of the parties is drunk or under the influence?

The common understanding of consent is that it must be given by someone who is capable of understanding the act and its consequences, which means being able to make decisions about what they want to do. A person who is extremely drunk may be impaired in judgement and may not remember what’s happening. If a person attempts sexual activity with someone who’s drunk or drugged—without first obtaining explicit verbal consent—then this could result in rape charges.

Highlights from the case

“She appeared to be inhibited and said that she did not remember the sexual encounters due to an alcoholic blackout, but it did not mean that she was not able to perform cognitive functions,” said the judge. 

The judgement referred to expert evidence estimating that she would have had a blood alcohol level of between 164 and 182mg/100ml around 3am to 4am when the incidents took place. By comparison, the legal limit for driving is 80mg/100ml.

He added that, based on expert opinion, “alcohol-induced blackout merely means that alcohol has affected the ability of the brain to encode memories, and that a person experiencing alcohol-induced blackout may still retain the ability to understand the nature and consequences of their actions.” 

The judge added that the “ultimate inquiry” was not whether she was intoxicated but if she had lost the capacity to “understand and decide”. He provided several instances from the evening of the incident to illustrate this point. 

One was when she repeatedly rejected her friend’s offer at the bar to drive her home, saying that it was to avoid worrying her friend, which showed that she could look beyond her immediate needs and consider her friend’s. Because of this and other factors, the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she lacked the capacity to consent, he added. 

The importance of objective evidence

There are two main types of evidence: objective and subjective. Objective evidence is the type that can be measured or observed by a third party. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Text messages between you and your partner;
  • Photos or videos documenting the sexual activity in question (if it’s consensual);
  • A witness who saw you giving consent

One crucial aspect of this case that led to its clear resolution was the existence of “objective evidence” in the form of audio recordings from the in-car camera. 

The judge said that the accused’s account was materially consistent with the first statement he gave to police after the arrest, and was also corroborated by the audio recordings. This objective evidence is very important as it gives the court “a clearer glimpse into the demeanour and behaviour of the complainant”. Without such evidence, establishing the facts of the case will become more complex. 

Consent, like any other element of a sexual offence, is not a binary concept. There is no clear line between drunk and sober, and the law requires that all of the facts be considered in each case to determine whether consent was given. If you’re currently in a situation that mirrors this article, then it’s best for you to speak to a lawyer who can help guide you.

Engaging a Lawyer

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

What types of Detention Orders are used in Singapore?

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

A detention order is a court sentence that requires the offender to be detained in a specific place for a certain period of time. However, unlike a prison sentence, which follows a basic prison schedule for the inmate, detention orders tend to have specified conditions that the offenders will need to follow, such as attending rehabilitation programmes.

The main difference between a detention order and remand is the former is only given out after someone has been found guilty of a crime, while remand is detention of a person in a prison cell before the trial or police investigations have started. In Singapore, the police detention period can last up to 48 hours after which, the accused can be released on bail, unless the court rejects the bail for further investigations.

There are generally seven types of detention orders used in Singapore.

  • Detention Order for Youths
  • Weekend Detention Order
  • Short Detention Order
  • Home Detention Order
  • Preventive Detention Order
  • Preventive Detention under ISA
  • Detention Without Trial

Detention Order for Youths

For offenders below the age of 16 years, a Detention Order (DO) will be issued and the offender can be detained under a DO until the maximum age of 18. Unless the child really cannot be dealt with, courts usually won’t place children under 10 years old in detention.

If a young offender is found guilty of committing a crime, the Youth Court can order the offender to be detained for up to six months at a place of detention for troubled youths. If the Youth Court orders detention along with a probation order, then the detention period will not exceed three months. This will then be followed up by the probation order. However, if the youth is found guilty of a serious offence that would result in a long jail term, then the youth may be detained the same number of years, and then subsequently moved from detention centre to prison.

If the offender is found guilty of another offence while serving detention, the Youth Court may extend the detention order.

Weekend Detention Order

The court may issue a Weekend Detention Order (WDO) for youth offenders where they will be detained in a place of detention for a specified number of weekends, with the maximum of 26 weekends, of half a year. 

With a weekend order, the youth will only be detained at a specified detention place from 3:00 p.m on Saturdays until 5:00 p.m on Sunday. During this period, the youth will be required to undergo programmes from academic, holistic development to rehabilitation while for the rest of the week, they will be able to continue attending their school or work as usual. Depending on the case, the court may also impose a probation order, community service order or a fine, together with the weekend order.

Short Detention Order

For offenders above the age of 16 years, the court may issue a Short Detention Order (SDO) where the offender will be detained in prison for a maximum of 14 days. An SDO is usually meted out by the court for minor offences, with the rationale that SDOs will limit the detention period of low-risk offenders, reducing the stigma of prison and criminal records and thus, allowing the offender to rehabilitate without disruption to their education, job or family commitments. 

Due to its nature of being a community service-based order, SDOs do not carry a criminal record. However, if the SDO is breached, the court may revoke the SDO and impose a prison sentence on the offender instead.

Home Detention Order

Also commonly known as a ‘house arrest’, a Home Detention Order (HDO) is issued to offenders with the purpose of confining them in their home, under strict curfew rules. Technically, prisoners who have served at least 14 days of a prison sentence longer than 4 weeks are eligible to serve the rest of their sentence under home detention instead of prison as part of an initiative to prioritise their rehabilitation.

During the HDO, offenders will have to remain indoors for the duration specified in the order and attend counselling or rehabilitation sessions, together with occasional urine and hair tests. The person will also need to wear an electronic tag to monitor their whereabouts. If the offender has breached their HDO, the Superintendent of Prisons may revoke the order and recall the offender back to prison.

Offenders are not eligible for HDOs if they are serving a life sentence, convicted for serious offences such as drug trafficking or attempted murder, or in the case of foreigners, if they are expected to be deported upon the completion of their sentence. 

Preventive Detention Order

One of the more serious orders that are issued in Singapore courts. A preventive detention order is a three-stage order issued only when the court is satisfied that the offender may reoffend, and should be imprisoned to protect the public from this person. The duration of this order varies from 7 to 20 years and offenders are only liable for this order if they are above the age of 30, and certified mentally and physically fit for detention.

The offender must also meet at least one of the following:

  • Convicted of an offence that carries a jail sentence of at least two years, and was previously convicted at least three times since the age of 16 years and sentenced to either prison or corrective training at least twice; or
  • Convicted for three or more offences carrying jail sentences of at least two years, with prior conviction of the same offence, with at least one month in prison, since turning 16.

These offences could have been committed either in Singapore or overseas.

Stage one: between one to two years where periodic reports by the Superintendent Officer to the Commissioner of Prisons will determine the offender’s ability to proceed to the next stage

Stage two: the offender will be allowed privileges enjoyed by regular prisoners such as sending and receiving letters and allowing visitors. The offender will be able to move on to the final stage if the Commissioner considers and is satisfied with the offender’s conduct during the second stage and recommends the offender’s release on licence. If the Commissioner defers the decision, the case will be heard again in intervals of at least six months.

Stage three: the offender will live in modified security conditions to prepare their release and transition back into the community. However, the Commissioner may order the offender back to stage two if the conditions are not met. Upon release, the offender will still be expected to comply with the conditions in the licence or risk re-imprisonment.

Preventive Detention under the ISA

The Internal Security Act (ISA) allows the government to take quick action against any national security threats in Singapore. Preventive Detention under the ISA is only considered as a last resort and if prosecuting the offender might endanger witnesses, or expose intelligence and investigation methods.  

Police officers can detain a person under the ISA for up to 24 hours without a warrant, and up to 48 hours with one. For offences that are not so serious, the offender may be released and issued with a Restriction Order (RO) that will prevent the person from leaving the country without permission. However, for serious offences, the detention may be extended up to a maximum of 30 days by an officer holding the rank of Superintendent of Police, and above. 

The Minister of Home Affairs must be informed if the person is detained for more than 14 days, and the Minister can detain someone beyond 30 days only with the permission of the President. Detainees will also need to be given the reasons why they have been detained, in writing, and their families will be informed of their detention too.

Detention Without Trial

Last but not least, Detention without trial is for offenders above the age of 18 years. Under section 30 of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA), the Minister for Home Affairs has the authority to detain a person without trial for up to a year if the detention is in the interests of public safety, peace and good order. The Public Prosecutor will have to consent to the detention, and it can be extended up to a year by the President.

Some criminal activities that fall under this category include:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Human trafficking
  • Secret society involvement
  • Robbery with firearms
  • Gang rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder

Besides committing these offences, aiding or abetting can also result in detention without trial. An advisory committee will review the detention order within 28 days and make recommendations to the President on whether the detention order should be issued. The President will then confirm or cancel the order. The police are also allowed to detain the offender for a maximum of 48 hours, which can be extended up to 14 days if more time is needed for the investigation.

If you are currently being issued with a detention order, you can also clarify with a lawyer what it entails.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires drafting legal documents like deeds and wills, mediation or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

What You Need to Know About Writing a Will in Singapore

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

Writing a will is one way an adult can legally ensure their loved ones are taken care off if they happen to pass away unexpectedly. There is no specific time or age requirement to write a will so whether you’re a retiree, a single parent or even unmarried, you’ll be able to allocate your assets to family members who may need financial support or even appoint a legal guardian to continue caring for your child.

What is a Will?  

Writing a will allows you to ensure your assets end up with the people you choose. A will is a legal document indicating your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate, and everything you own, as well as appointing care for your children, after your death.

In Singapore, the laws relating to wills can be found in the Wills Act 1838. If a person were to die without writing a will, then according to the Intestate Succession Act 1967, the person’s assets will only be distributed evenly among the deceased spouse and children (if married), and not necessarily to other specific family members, including parents or siblings, even if they may be facing financial hardships. 

The main requirements to make a Will

For your will to be valid in Singapore, you will need to ensure:

  • You are at least 21 years old;
  • The will is committed to writing;
  • You must sign at the foot of the will, with 2 or more witnesses who must also sign the will in your presence;
  • The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will;
  • Your spouse cannot be a witness 

If you are unable to sign at the foot of the will, you may appoint another person to sign it on your behalf, but you will need to be present too. 

What needs to be included in the Will

You’re required to list all of your assets and liabilities in the will. This means all the assets that you own, and which are registered in your name. The same applies for all your debts (if any) and how you want them to be paid off, before your assets can be distributed to your chosen beneficiaries. These assets include HDB flats, private apartments, plots of land or buildings, as well as investments such as shares, unit trusts and bank accounts and physical items such as furniture and ornaments, and many others. You should consult a lawyer if you’re looking for clarity in such matters.

You will need to name the executors to carry out your will, as well as your advisors such as your lawyers and accountants involved in the process. If you are writing a new will to replace an older one, you will need to include a revocation clause to revoke the previous will.  

With a will, you can allocate specific amounts and percentages to your beneficiaries. If your beneficiary is too young, you can allocate them to a guardian. You are also allowed to include reserve beneficiaries in case your chosen one dies at the same time as you.

What About CPF Savings?

If you wish to transfer your CPF savings to another person after your death, you can only do so by making a CPF nomination. Otherwise, the amount will be transferred to the Public Trustee’s Office.

Reasons to write a Will

Besides appointing a trusted person to manage your affairs, a will also allows you to name a testamentary guardian to care for your children on your behalf, if they are still minors, after your death. In a simultaneous death situation, involving both you and your spouse, the testamentary guardian will be able to have custody of your children. Otherwise, anyone can apply to the court for their custody. If there are no applications for guardianship, the children will be placed in a home under the care of the Ministry of Family and Social Development (MSF).

Another reason for writing a will is to ease your spouse’s financial burden by specifying that you wish to sell a certain asset you own, to repay a loan or mortgage, after your death. If you are looking for more information regarding your situation, it’s best to speak to a lawyer who can guide you through the process.

Engaging a Lawyer

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

How to become a legal guardian in Singapore?

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

In Singapore law, a ‘legal guardian’ is defined as a person who is responsible for the welfare and safety of a child. There are two different types of legal guardians:

  • Natural Guardian: Parents

  • Appointed Guardian: Appointed by the court, a deed or will

The child’s parents are also guardians by default, but if one parent passes away, the other parent will become the child’s guardian. 

It is also possible to apply to be the legal guardian of a child under the Guardianship of Infants Act (GIA). In the event where there was no deed or will appointing a guardian after the child’s parents have passed away, a legal guardian can also be appointed by the court. 

Appointing a Guardian by Deed or Will

Also known as a “testamentary guardian”, it is possible for a guardian unrelated to the parent or child to be appointed via a will to be the legal guardian of the child under section 7 of the Guardianship of Infants Act (GIA). This can include a distant relative or even a close family friend appointed in a deed or in the parent’s will. Whether both guardian and child are based in Singapore, or overseas with the court’s permission, they will be required to live together. 

Guardian application process

If you wish to apply to be appointed the legal guardian of a child, you may do so under the GIA provided you are living in Singapore. You are not required to be a family member, or directly related to the child or parent.

Generally, it is best to go through this process with a family lawyer. The documents you will need to get started will be the Originating Summons and an affidavit to support it. The lawyer may also ask you for other documents that may be required, depending on your situation.

In a previous article, we explained how child custody works in Singapore after a divorce. In this context, if you are looking to amend an existing court order regarding custody of your child, you may be able to do so under the GIA by providing your lawyer with additional documents like your marriage certificate, for example.

What is a court-appointed guardian?

There are several possible situations where the court may make the decision to appoint someone as the child’s guardian. One scenario is the absence of a deed or will appointing a guardian if the child’s parents have passed away.

For court-appointed guardians, the duration of the whole process will depend on how complicated the circumstances are. Throughout this time, the child will be placed in foster care. To prevent this scenario from happening, it is always advisable to appoint a guardian by deed as soon as you can.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires drafting legal documents like deeds and wills, mediation or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

What happens when a child commits a crime?

Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation

In Singapore law, anyone under the age of 18 is referred to as a minor. However, if the child were to commit a crime, there is a minimum age where the child can be held responsible for their actions. 

The Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) in Singapore is 10 years. Therefore, as long as the child is above the age of 10, they will be liable for any criminal offence they may commit and if they are below 10, the child cannot be sentenced or found guilty.

When does a child attain maturity? 

If a child who has passed the minimum age commits an offence, it is then up to the court to decide – based on the facts of the situation, assessment of the child’s level of maturity, awareness of the severity and consequences of their actions – if the child can be held criminally responsible for the offence.

Did you know that in Singapore, words such as “conviction” and “sentence” can’t be used in cases involving children? This is to ensure that the child would not be stigmatised with a blemished record at such a young age.

What happens if a child is found guilty?

According to Sections 84A and 84B of the Children and Young Persons Act, If the child is found guilty of committing a crime by the Youth Court, no one will be allowed to broadcast or publish any information that could lead to the identity of the child such as their name, address or school. 

This is one reason why news media coverage of cases involving children tend to leave out names, whether they are the victims or otherwise, and there will also be no pictures published. For example, If a newspaper happens to publish or broadcast such information while reporting on a case involving a child as the offender, the court can order the newspaper to remove it immediately. Beyond that, the editor, publisher and distributor may all also be held liable for an offence of non-compliance which may lead to a fine.

Can a child get a criminal record?

We previously explained what a criminal record is and how it works. For children, it will depend on whether the offence was a registrable or non-registrable offence. For offences that fall under the First and Second Schedules of the Registration of Criminals Act such as murder, theft and trespass, the child may have a criminal record. However, minor offences like jaywalking or littering will likely not leave a criminal record.

If the child had committed an offence and was ordered by the Youth Court to undergo probation, detention or rehabilitation, then his/her criminal record related to that crime will expire once the court order ends. This is also possible if the child was sentenced in the High Court instead of the Youth Court and has gone five consecutive years without committing a crime, but this only applies if the initial crime was just a minor offence like littering or causing mischief.

Can children go to jail in Singapore?

In Singapore, children under the age of 14 will not be imprisoned for any sentence committed. If the child is between the ages of 14 and 16, and depending on the severity of the offence and the Youth Court’s decision, the child may be:

  • Sent to a juvenile rehabilitation centre for up to 3 years;

  • Sent to a reformative training centre, if between 14 to 16 years old, and has already been sent to a juvenile rehabilitation centre;

  • Detained in a place of detention for up to 6 months, eg. boys’ home;

  • Placed under probation for a period of 6 months to 3 years;

  • Required to perform up to 240 hours of community service.

While uncommon, it is still possible for a child to be imprisoned for an offence only in extreme circumstances where the child’s character or behaviour might justify imprisonment as a more appropriate measure than detention or juvenile rehabilitation. The Youth Court may also order the child, or the parent, to pay a fine or damages to ensure that the wrongful conduct committed is dealt with, besides assisting the child in rehabilitation. 

What if children commit serious crimes?

In the unfortunate circumstance where the child has been found guilty of committing a grave crime like murder, attempted murder or voluntarily causing grevous hurt, and the court determines that the abovementioned orders are all unsuitable, then the court may sentence the child to be detained.

The detention period will be determined by the court based on sentencing guidelines for that particular offence and at a place and on conditions that may be decided by the Minister for Social and Family Development.

However, regardless of the severity of the offence, no person below the age of 18 can be sentenced to death. If he/she commits an offence that would otherwise lead to the death penalty, the court will sentence him/her to life imprisonment instead.

Can parents get in trouble too because of their child?

There isn’t any law for parents to be held liable for their child’s actions, but if the child is between 14 to 16 years old, the Youth Court may decide, under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) that:

  • The parent will have to give security for the child’s good behaviour if he/she is charged with any offence; or

  • The parent will have to pay the damages or costs ordered on behalf of the child.

Some parents may not have realised this yet, but if a child’s act causes damage, the child can be sued in his or her own right, and that also means the parents can be liable for the child’s mistakes if the act was a result of the parents’ negligence.

To provide an example, a child is walking outside with his parent, and the parent has to answer a call and thus gets distracted. The child takes this chance to wreak havoc on something nearby, but ends up injuring an innocent third-party. In court, the parent can be sued and found liable for negligence for failing to exercise proper supervision over the child.

However, if the child is on his own outside of school while the parent is at work, and the child injures someone innocent, then only the child will be liable as the parent wasn’t physically present to stop the child.

If you are currently in a situation that requires mediation or legal advice involving a juvenile, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Engaging a Lawyer

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.