Child Custody, Care and Control: What You Need to Know?

Divorce cases involving a child will lead to decisions on who wins custody of the child, who is given care and control, as well as the access order granted. 

According to the Women’s Charter, a “child” is defined as a child of the marriage who is below 21 years of age. This definition is also the main statute governing child custody in Singapore under the Guardianship of Infants Act and the Administration of Muslim Law Act. Therefore, this law applies to every person in Singapore regardless of race or religion.

What is The Difference?

Child custody refers to the authority given to the custodial parent, or parents, to make major decisions for the child such as choice of school, religion and health-related matters.

Care and control is only given to one parent. This parent will be the child’s primary caregiver and will be involved in the child’s daily life while the other parent will be granted reasonable access to visit the child for a certain period. This order is necessary when the parents are separated and the court will require convincing evidence to deny this access to the other parent.

If the father had been the primary caregiver before the divorce, the court may grant shared care and control where time spent with the children will be split amongst both parents equally but this is subject to several factors including feasibility and the child’s welfare. Above all, the welfare of the child is paramount.

Care and control orders can also include a ‘penal notice’ where there are specific terms and responsibilities that the parent living with the child will need to abide by such as specific times to allow access to the other parent. If those terms are not complied with, the aggrieved parent may take the matter to court to seek recourse.

Child Custody Orders

There are about 4 types of child custody orders that are granted in Singapore courts:

  • Sole custody order: only one parent is granted custody of the child. Usually granted in cases where the couple’s relationship has broken down irretrievably, or one party concedes custody.
  • Joint custody order: both parents share equal custody rights over the child. This is also one of the more common custody orders granted in Singapore courts where both parents are expected to communicate with each other and reach a consensus when making decisions for the child.
  • Hybrid order: one parent will be granted custody over the child but will still be required to consult the other parent on matters relating to the child’s welfare.
  • Split custody order: custody of one or more siblings split between both parents. This is not very common as the court will usually encourage siblings to stay together. 

When a child is under custody or care and control order, nobody other than the custodial parent can take the child out of the country for a period of more than one month. The non-custodial parent can only be allowed to bring the child overseas with the consent of the custodial parent or the court.

Access Orders

The non-custodial parent, usually the father, will be granted unsupervised access to the child. The access orders are meant to be fair and reasonable to serve the welfare and best interests of the child and will be determined by the court. Access periods can also be specifically on weekdays, weekends, school or public holidays.

If there is a reason to believe that the child may face potential physical or emotional abuse, or if there is a need to assess the non-custodial parent’s relationship with the child, then a Supervised order will be granted where the session will be supervised by a third party.

The court may order for Access Evaluation Reports if necessary if there is dispute between both parents regarding access times.

There have been instances where parents were denied access to the child and if you are currently in this situation, you should speak to a divorce lawyer for help.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, family disputes to high-profile criminal cases. 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.

The Road Traffic Act and What You Need to Know

The Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2019 (“Act”) that was passed in Parliament in July 2019 took effect starting November 2019. Besides the reclassification of offences, there are new provisions that specifically target dangerous behaviour such as drink driving and using mobile devices while on the road, as well as changes to the license suspension and revocation system. 

While most of the amendments took effect in 2019, some of them will only start in the second half of 2020.

Here are some of the changes you can expect:

Reclassification of offences: Irresponsible driving offences will now be classified into Reckless or Dangerous Driving and Driving Without Care or Reasonable Consideration. This means Dangerous Driving is distinguished from Careless Driving through variables such as whether the driver was in the condition to drive safely, or if the traffic situation required the driver to be extra careful but he/she did not.

The Act also now categorises offences into four tiers which represent the different levels of harm caused. These include Hurt, Grievous Hurt, Endangers Life and Death.

Heavier punishments: For offences including drink driving, driving against the flow of traffic, swerving across lanes at high speed, and speeding past pedestrian crossings when one does not have the right of way, offenders will now face much heavier imprisonment terms and fines as compared to the existing Penal Code and Road Traffic Act.

Motorists who commit a Dangerous or Careless Driving offence under the influence of any illicit substances will also be liable for additional penalties that will be served consecutively. Repeat offenders can also expect higher maximum penalties compared to first-time offenders.

Longer bans: Irresponsible motorists will now be kept off the roads for much longer through the widening of the range of offences that will lead to minimum disqualification (DQ) periods, immediate suspension and vehicle forfeitures. Penalties for driving without a licence, or while suspended will result in increased punishments.

A new aggravating factor: The courts will now be able to consider a motorist’s past compounded road traffic offences as aggravating factors for his/her current road traffic offence.

Forfeiture of Motor Vehicles

According to Section 65AA, The Court may order the forfeiture of a motor vehicle if its driver has been convicted of reckless or dangerous driving on the application of the Public Prosecutor. However, if it can be proven that the person who committed the offence is not the vehicle owner, and that the driver had used the vehicle without the owner’s consent, then the vehicle must be released within one month from the date of seizure. 

The 2020 Provisions

While the latest amendment to the Road Traffic Act was announced and implemented in 2019, some of the new provisions only take effect starting August 2020. 

Section 65B pertains to the use of mobile communication devices while driving. As long as the driver of a vehicle holds a mobile communication in his/her hand while the vehicle is moving, the person will be guilty of an offence and might face up to 6 months in prison and/or a fine of not more than $1,000. Repeat offenders may face double the jail term and/or fine.

At first glance, it may seem like this law does not apply to wearable devices like smart watches, as long as it is worn as intended on the wrist. However, if you are using that device for a communicative function while driving, then it becomes an offence.

What is Communicative Function?

According to Section 65B(3), communicative function refers to any of the following:

  • Sending or receiving audio phone or video calls;
  • Sending or receiving of electronic documents, this can include .PDF or .DOC or any files from work;
  • Sending or receiving still or moving images, this can include photographs or gifs;
  • Sending or receiving audio or video files such as music or films;
  • Providing access to the internet, such as turning on your wireless hotspot for your passenger while driving;

If you have been summoned for a traffic offence recently that falls within one of these amendments, then it’s best to speak to a lawyer who will be able to guide you on your next course of action.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, family disputes to high-profile criminal cases. 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.

Source: 

https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/RTA1961?ProvIds=pr64-,pr65-,pr65AA-,pr65A-,pr65B-,pr67-,pr67A-&ViewType=Advance&Phrase=driving+without+licence&WiAl=1

What Happens When The Police Keep Your Passport?

court case Singapore Amarjit Singh

If the police have reasons to believe that you may be a suspect, or have been accused of committing a criminal offence, they may require you to surrender your passport. Are they allowed to do that? What happens after?

The answer to the first question is yes, but that is only provided the police officer is of the rank of sergeant or above and has the written consent of an officer above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, who has been authorised by the Commissioner of Police to give the consent. 

This power is also applicable to other law enforcement agencies such as the Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority and Singapore Customs, but also only with the written consent of the head of the agency.

Return of Travel Document

According to section 113 of the criminal procedure Court, a person who has surrendered his passport may apply to the authorised officer, or the head or an authorised director of the law enforcement agency or a person of a similar rank, for its return.

However, if the application has been refused, then the person may apply to a District Judge and state their reasons for the application.

The District Judge may either grant the application subject to conditions that may require further surrender and a provision of security for the applicant’s appearance at a specific time and place, or simply refuse the application.

If the applicant fails to comply with any of the stated conditions, then any security that was provided for the passport’s return may be forfeited by a Magistrate, and the applicant may even be arrested and dealt with the same way as someone who refuses to surrender their passport without any valid reason.

What Happens if You Refuse to Surrender Your Passport?

If you refuse a police officer’s request to surrender your passport, you may be arrested and brought before a Magistrate. If you are still unable to provide a good reason for not surrendering your passport, you may be sent to jail and remain there until you surrender your passport.

In the event that you have been charged with an offence and applying to be released on bail, the court or prosecuting agency may require your passport as a condition of your bail or you may not be released on bail.

How Long Can The Police Keep Your Passport For?

If the police believe you have committed an offence, your passport may be held until the end of police investigations. You may apply for a return if there is an urgent requirement to do so. If your passport is being held as a condition for your bail, you may only get it back after the case is concluded.

What if You Need to Leave Singapore?

If you need to leave Singapore while out on bail, you may apply to the court to have it returned to you if you have a valid reason. This could include a serious illness or emergency involving a family member overseas, or even a planned holiday. You will also need to ensure your bailor is present when you make your application to leave Singapore. 

Do take note that the court may increase the bail amount if your application to leave Singapore while out on bail is approved.

What Other Ways Are There to Get Your Passport Back?

There is a system in place to ensure fairness throughout the different procedures. If the police have reasons to believe you have committed an offence and have taken your passport, you may apply to that police officer or the Commissioner of Police to explain your reasons why it should be returned to you.

If the police reject your application, you may apply to the District Court instead. However in the District Court, the return of your passport may be subjected to conditions it deems appropriate as well as a provision of security to make sure you attend court on a certain date.

If the court grants the return on the condition that you will have to re-surrender your passport at a later date and you refuse, you may be arrested and any security you had provided for the return of your passport will be forfeited.

Getting a Criminal Lawyer in Singapore

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction. There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. 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.

(Recap) First Person to be Charged Under Singapore’s New Anti-Money Laundering Law

According to a Straits Times article published on June 25, a 23-year old Singaporean woman became the person to be charged under the Payment Services Act for providing payment services without a license.

The Payment Services Act 2019 was implemented at the beginning of 2020 for the purpose of fighting money laundering and terrorism financing. The law is also meant to strengthen consumer protection for e-payments.

The Case 

The woman was charged with one count of providing payment services without a licence by receiving at least 13 fraudulent fund transfers amounting to around $3,000 on a digital payment token service into her bank account near the end of February.

She then used the amount to buy Bitcoin, a type of cryptocurrency that works on blockchain technology.

According to a Police spokesperson, “the amount deposited into her bank account turned out to be proceeds of crime from victims of online scams”. 

Due to her previous brushes with the law, her bail was set at $15,000 and if found guilty of the offence under the Payment Services Act, she can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $125,000. 

Getting a Criminal Lawyer in Singapore

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years in civil and military courts from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction. There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. 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 Prove Unreasonable Behaviour for a Divorce

In an earlier article, we explained the process of getting a divorce. One requirement is that one of you will need to prove that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and therefore, unable to live together.

This can come in the form of your spouse displaying unreasonable behaviour, both actively or passively, and it is affecting your marriage. You may refer to section 95(3)(b) of the Womens’ Charter, or make an appointment with a divorce lawyer to better understand your legal options based on your circumstances.

What is Unreasonable Behaviour?

It is a very broad term with a wide range of meanings and can include acts, both passive and active, as well as failure to act, and includes a range of situations from adultery, to prolonged acts of humiliation, to domestic violence towards you, or even someone else.

This behaviour may be intentional or unintentional.

The main question that you will have to answer will be: Can you reasonably expect to continue living with your spouse?

If your answer is yes, the court will also take into account, both your behavioural attributes such as character and attitude, as well as how you have both been behaving throughout the duration of the marriage.

Are There Exceptions?

Since it requires just one of you to show why you can’t reasonably be expected to live together, there are also certain exceptions, also known as insufficient instances. This is why the court will take certain steps to test for unreasonable behaviour.

Unreasonable Behaviour is at the minimum, more than just a feeling or a state of mind. This means that if you are feeling bored of your spouse, or feel like you don’t love each other anymore even though both of you have not been fighting and living peacefully in the same address, then the court may rule that there is insufficient instance of showing unreasonable behaviour.

How Does The Court Determine Unreasonable Behaviour?

Depending on your circumstances, the court will look at the cumulative effect of this behaviour, how long it has been going on for and how it has been affecting you. This will apply for behaviour that may not be serious when done once, but may be considered unreasonable over a prolonged period, affecting your mental health for example.

Since this verdict only applies to your marriage, in the case of a successful divorce ruling, the evidence of unreasonable behaviour by your spouse to prove the divorce does not necessarily mean they will now be found guilty of misconduct. The focus is only on the acts related to your marriage, and if it is reasonable to expect you to continue living together.

If you are still unsure, or would like to know more about unreasonable behaviour with regards to your personal circumstances, it is highly advisable for you to speak to a divorce lawyer.

Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Singapore

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction. There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. 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 if You Want to File for Divorce But Can’t Find Your Spouse?

When you file for divorce, a writ for divorce will be issued by the court for your spouse, who will be the Defendant. The usual process is done by personal service. A copy of your Writ with your Divorce Case Number will be made with other relevant legal documents and personally sent to the Defendant by an authorised or registered service clerk.

However in some cases, the Defendant might either refuse to open the door, or is no longer living there and therefore, unable to receive the writ. Depending on the situation, there are two things you can do:

  • An order of substituted service – a way of summons with a supporting affidavit

But if that fails,

  • Service to be dispensed with – only allowed by the court if you can prove that you have attempted every other possible substituted service but still could not reach your spouse.

What is a Substituted Service?

If you are able to find your spouse’s (other) residential or email address, either by yourself or by asking others who may know, then you may apply for service to be made effected by:

  • Registered Post: if you have their residential address, you must explain why you believe that your spouse is currently at that address. You may also use this service if your spouse is living overseas and is not permanently based in Singapore.
  • Electronic Means: you can send it via email if you can show that the email account belongs to your spouse and is currently active.

What if I Cannot Reach My Spouse Even if I Have Their Details?

There are another 2 substituted services available should either of these fail but the requirements are more stringent. 

  • Posting on the front door at your spouse’s last known residential address in Singapore: If personal service was attempted but unsuccessful, then you will need to provide the court with the dates, times and outcome of each attempted personal service while also providing reasons to believe the person resides in that address, including evidence such as household bills or official government documents where both your spouse’s name and address are visible.

    You will also be required to reveal the date of your last contact with your spouse, as well as the mode and contents of the conversation; the names and addresses of your spouse’s relatives and friends; details of your attempts to contact them; the name and address of your spouse’s last known employer, if any, and details of your spouse’s nationality.

    After which, you will need to make another two attempts at personal service and only with evidence that your spouse is overseas and may, or may not have a return date, or just being told that the person has ‘moved out’ without indicating where, only then will you be able to effect this form of service. 
  • Newspaper Advertisement: If nobody seems to know where your spouse is, and all other available methods have been exhausted, then you may apply for an advertisement. You will need to provide information such as your spouse’s language(s) spoken and level of literacy. This is applicable if you are placing an advertisement in both an English, as well as a non-English language publication in Singapore, or a newspaper overseas in the country your spouse is believed to be at.

What if Every Possible Method has Failed and I Still Can’t Reach my Spouse?

In the event that you just cannot reach your spouse, the court will allow for a Dispensation of Service if they are satisfied that all your possible attempts at contacting your spouse has failed. This can be proven if you can show the court that you have no idea where, or which country your spouse is currently at, making advertising ineffective. There may be a higher chance this is allowed if there are no ancillary issues between Parties – such as matrimonial assets and/or children. It is on the merits of each case.

If you are in this situation, it is best for you to speak to a divorce lawyer.

Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Singapore

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction. There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. 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.

Meeting a Divorce Lawyer as a Foreigner in Singapore

To file for divorce in Singapore, at least one party to the marriage must have been ‘domiciled’, or living in Singapore for an indefinite period, or must be a ‘habitual resident’ in Singapore for at least 3 years.

What Does ‘Domicile’ Mean?

By definition, domicile refers to a place of permanent residence and can sometimes be evidenced if you have lived in Singapore for a substantial amount of time and have purchased a permanent home in Singapore. 

However, in a legal context, it is a complex concept because it refers to someone based permanently in Singapore which will apply to both Singaporeans and foreigners. However, it does not include foreigners who are in Singapore only for work or studies for a specific time period.

Therefore, expatriates and students are not necessarily domiciled in Singapore even if they have been staying in the country for years. Singaporeans who are living overseas are also not considered ‘domiciled’ if they file for divorce in Singapore.

What is ‘Habitual Residence’ in Singapore?

By definition, ‘habitual residence’ refers to a voluntary residence for a settled purpose such as school or work, or a residence that you always return to when you are in Singapore.

To be able to file for divorce in Singapore, you will need to fulfil at least 3 continuous years of habitual residence in Singapore. Short holidays, business or other essential trips overseas can be included into this 3-year period without breaking the continuity.

However, if there are long absences, the court may decide that the continuity of residence has been broken. This has happened before in previous cases where the person has spent close to 12 months away from Singapore.

What if Your Marriage Has Already Been Dissolved Overseas?

Singapore’s court will not grant a divorce if a foreign court has already done so. This is a common issue that happens in divorce cases in Singapore between Singaporeans and foreigners, and foreigners based in Singapore. 

However, if you have already begun divorce proceedings in a different country, possibly due to more favourable terms of divorce such as a stronger chance of child custody for example, then the first court to grant the divorce will dissolve the marriage and also wield the power to decide all other matters relating to the divorce, including division of property and maintenance terms.

Singapore courts will only recognise a foreign divorce if that court has some connection to the marriage or the parties. The Singapore courts may refuse to recognise the judgement from the foreign court if the parties are not residents of the country where that court is based. 

A simple example would be when citizens of a particular country file for divorce in a different country that they are not residents of, then Singaporean courts may not recognise the divorce. If one of them is a Singaporean, then it might be possible to ask the court to prevent the other person from pursuing the matter in another country. 

It is best to speak to your divorce lawyer to go deeper into the details.

Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Singapore

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction. There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. 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.

Meeting a Divorce Lawyer: What You Need to Know

In a previous article, we showed you how to find a good divorce lawyer, now that you have found one, what do you do next?

If you have already made up your mind on filing for a divorce but still not too sure what the process is like, or what documents you’ll need, then this article will provide you with the basic information for you to get started.

If you are a foreigner living in Singapore, you can find more information here.

There are 2 sets of proceedings that you should know about:

  • Main proceedings: the granting of an interim divorce order
  • Ancillary proceedings: final judgement related to child custody and access, maintenance, parties’ assets and other marriage-related ancillary matters

The Documents You Will Need

Upon your first meeting with your divorce lawyer, you will need to bring your identity card, or any form of personal identification so that the lawyer can verify your identity. 

For a divorce-related issue, you will also need to bring your original marriage certificate and if you have any children from the marriage, you will need to bring copies of their birth certificates too.

Preparing for the Statement of Claim

To begin a divorce proceeding, a Statement of Claim needs to be filed. This statement will consist of the following information:

  • Particulars of the marriage: details such as the duration of the marriage as there is a minimum requirement of 3 years of marriage before divorce proceedings can begin unless you can show that you are suffering from extreme hardship.
  • Particulars of the parties: personal particulars of both parties including age, occupation, education levels and citizenship. The court will hear divorce proceedings only if either party has been living in Singapore for at least the past 3 years, or based in Singapore indefinitely.
  • Particulars of the parties’ children, if applicable: If the child suffers from any chronic health condition or a disability, then you will also need to have the relevant medical reports.

What Evidence Can Be Used For The Case?

To proceed with divorce, you will need to show evidence to the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The evidence which you need to establish under the Womens’ Charter can be on either one of these following grounds:

  • Adultery committed by your spouse resulting in an intolerable living environment at home. To prove adultery, you will need to provide a private investigator’s report. You will also need to file for divorce within six months of discovering the adultery.
  • Unreasonable Behaviour by your spouse to the point where you cannot be expected to live with him/her anymore. This is a wide ground and as your lawyers, we will be able to help you draft out the necessary facts for this to be established in court. The evidence can be in the form of medical reports if the case involves domestic abuse. Screenshots or logs of text messages between both parties can also be used as evidence.
  • Desertion:  When your spouse has left you at least 2 years prior to filing for divorce. You must be able to show that your spouse has left the home where you were both living in and does not wish to return and carry on with the marriage.
  • Separation for 3 years : Your spouse and you must have lived separately for a continuous period of 3 years and your spouse must agree to the divorce and the 3 years separation. This can sometimes be established even if you have been living in the same home but have been sleeping in separate rooms and lead separate lives.
  • Separation for 4 years: When both parties have lived apart for at least 4 years. You do not need your spouse’s consent.

Documents for Maintenance Matters

During the ancillary stage of the proceedings where factors such as child custody and maintenance are addressed, the court will generally deal with these matters:

  • Maintenance of spouse: monthly household and personal expenses, etc.
  • Maintenance of children in the marriage, if applicable
  • Child custody, care, control and access: for children to the marriage
  • Division of matrimonial assets: these assets will be brought together as a pool of your matrimonial assets.

For those of you seeking maintenance, you will need to provide your divorce lawyer with a monthly expense breakdown for both yourself and your children from the marriage, if any, with relevant documentary proof such as bills and receipts. 

The court will also consider the financial capabilities of both you and your spouse when determining whether to order maintenance, and the amount to be ordered. Therefore you will need to provide your lawyer with these documents, and as much as possible, from both parties:

  • Payslips
  • CPF statements
  • Employer’s letter or employment contract
  • Income tax documents
  • Bank statements
  • Credit Bureau Reports, or any other document proving both parties’ debts.

Division of Matrimonial Assets

For this purpose, you will have to provide documents relevant to the assets that you own, as well as assets that you own together with your spouse. These include housing loan documents, bank statements, payslips, credit card statements, valuation reports, income tax documents and if you have insurance coverage, the policy details are applicable too.

Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Singapore

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction. There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. 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 to Your HDB Flat After Divorce?

For couples who own a HDB flat and are wondering what happens to the flat after the divorce, this article will explain the processes, and what happens.

Firstly, you and your spouse will need to mutually agree on what should happen to the flat after divorce. Is one of you going to pass on full ownership of the flat to the other? Or do you both plan to sell the flat and split the earnings to certain specifications?

If both of you are unable to come to an agreement, then the court will decide looking at Parties’ direct and indirect contributions.

What Does The Court Do?

In simple terms, the court will decide what happens to the HDB flat after divorce. During this process, the court will also divide all the matrimonial assets that the couple cannot agree on. 

According to the Women’s Charter, the term “matrimonial assets” is defined to be an asset of any nature that was acquired during marriage by either or both parties. If the asset was bought by one of the parties before marriage, then it will depend on whether it was ordinarily used or enjoyed by both parties for either shelter, transportation, household, education, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes after marriage.

A matrimonial asset can also refer to an asset that was ‘substantially improved’ during the marriage by the other party, or both parties. One party cannot claim that they have an interest in an HDB flat owned by the other party simply because they were both married.

Dividing a HDB Flat as a Matrimonial Asset

During this process, the court will issue an order such as:

  • Requiring one spouse to transfer their interest in the flat to the other spouse or; 
  • Requiring the flat to be sold, and proceeds divided between both parties in a certain way.

This means the matrimonial asset may not necessarily be divided equally. One of the factors behind this could be the gap between the respective financial contributions towards the purchase of the asset.

The court’s decision on dividing the matrimonial asset depends on various factors, some of which can be found in section 112(2) of the Women’s Charter:

  • The extent of contributions each party made towards acquiring, improving or maintaining the asset
  • Debt owing, or obligation incurred or undertaken for the benefit of any child of the marriage
  • How much each party has contributed towards the family’s welfare, including caring for dependents on either party.
  • A deed of separation, or any agreement made between both parties with respect to the ownership and division of the asset.
  • Assistance given by one party to the other, both material and immaterial. This could also mean helping the other party out with daily tasks.
  • Was there any benefit enjoyed by one party in the matrimonial home to the exclusion of the other party like rent-free occupation?
  • If there is a child, or children involved, their needs.
  • The length of the marriage is also a factor
  • Each party’s financial needs based on their income and lifestyle

These are just some of the factors that will be considered by the court when deciding the division of matrimonial assets.

What if You Are Entitled to Retain the HDB Flat After Divorce?

Provided your spouse agrees to transfer their interest in the flat to you, or the court orders it. This does not necessarily mean you will get to keep the flat. To be able to own a HDB flat, you will still need to fulfil HDB’s eligibility conditions.

  • You have care and control of your children
  • You are eligible under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme

For the latter, you will need to be a Singapore citizen, at least 35 years old and the flat is a resale flat purchased from the open market without the CPF Housing Grant for Family.

If you had bought the flat directly from HDB, or using the grant, then you must satisfy the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period before you can retain the flat under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme.

You may also include another person to retain the flat with but this is subject to HDB’s requirements.

If you are unable to meet any of the conditions above, and both you and your spouse have not completed the 5-year MOP, then the flat will have to be returned to HDB at the prevailing compensation price subject to HDB’s approval.

How Are Sales Proceeds Divided After a HDB Flat is Sold?

Both you and your spouse can agree on the proportion of the split but in the event both parties are unable to come to a reasonable conclusion, the court will decide based on whether the sale proceeds are considered ‘matrimonial assets’ and the various factors listed above.

If the marriage is void or annulled, you may have to dispose of the flat.

Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Singapore

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction.

There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. 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 Do I File For a Divorce in Singapore?

If you have reached the stage where attempts to salvage your marriage have failed and divorce seems to be the only logical course of action, then this simple guide will show you what you need to know, and the steps you need to take throughout the process.

Know What You’re Getting Yourself Into 

Just as with every life-changing decision, it’s always best to properly think it though, conduct relevant research on the requirements and processes and ask yourself a few questions such as:

  • Am I able to divorce in Singapore?
  • What reasons do I need for this divorce?
  • What are the considerations for our child’s custody?
  • How do we split up our matrimonial property?
  • Is this going to be contested or uncontested?

At this point, if you’re already clear or still a little unsure, it’s time to proceed to the next step.

Speak to the Right Divorce Lawyer

In the event that you are unsure, this is the time to speak to the right divorce lawyer who will be able to provide you with clearer options towards your next course of action. During this consultation, you may ask questions pertaining to the legal processes, costs involved and also clarification on property and child custody matters.

Finding the right divorce lawyer means understanding the different kinds of divorce lawyers and how they work. Generally, they are:

Divorce law firm – Usually consisting of a lawyer working with several lawyer associates, law firms tend to have a more polished look as they generally spend more on marketing. They are also more open to providing free first consultations and they are structured to handle multiple cases at a time. This also means, there is a chance your case might be handed down from a senior to a junior lawyer if that might be an issue to you.

Solo divorce lawyer – This lawyer will personally handle your case because he/she usually works alone. Some may have a secretary. Solo lawyers usually have a firm in their name, or will be part of a small law firm as a partner and will never market themselves giving free consultations as the workload may get too overwhelming for a single lawyer. Single lawyers also may charge a small fee for a first consultation, usually to ensure commitment from the client. Most solo lawyers charge reasonable rates.

High net-worth divorce lawyer – This lawyer is usually affiliated with a larger law firm or has a strong track record in contentious cases. The high net-worth divorce lawyer generally works with clients from the upper percentiles of the income bracket so therefore, the deposite and the fees can be high.

How Do You Find The Right Divorce Lawyer?

There are a few methods you can use to find the right lawyer for your case, both online and offline. 

  • Old fashioned word-of-mouth – It is usually most comforting to work with someone who has been recommended by your friend or loved one. To take it on step further, you may create a shortlist of lawyers you have collected, and then research them individually to make sure they provide the specific service you’re looking for.
  • Online Directories – Google searches will generally provide you with a list of lawyers, law firms and third-party directories that allow you to fine-tune your search to find the lawyer you’re looking for. However, a quick tip: certain online advertisements may show rates that seem too good to be true but depending on the case, the rates may vary.
     
  • Websites and Social Media – Some law firms and lawyers have both a website, and a Facebook page. In some cases, Their website also doubles up as a resource library for basic legal advice and can be found being shared on social media.

Ultimately, you want a lawyer who can listen and empathise with you and provide you with the best solution or advice under a reasonable agreement. After you have found the lawyer or law firm you’re looking for, you may contact them.

Getting a Divorce Lawyer in Singapore

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from domestic violence, spousal and child maintenance; family disputes to high-profile divorce; care and control and custody issues, relocation and child abduction. There is a Team of 4 experienced lawyers in the Firm. 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.