Alternatives to Divorce: Annulment and Separation
AspectLaw | July 15, 2022
Divorce is one way to end a marriage in Singapore, but did you know that there are other options to ending a marriage besides having to go through the lengthy divorce process? Certain eligibility criteria must be met in order to file for divorce in Singapore, which can prevent many couples from splitting up, forcing them to carry on living unhappily with one another. If divorce is not an option for you, here are two other alternatives you can look into.
An annulment is a court order that dissolves the marriage and declares it null and void. In other words, annulling a marriage and declaring it never existed, reinstating your marital status to “single”.
If a couple files for divorce, the marriage will still be legally recognised as having existed, and your marital status will be considered “divorced”. Matrimonial assets will also be divided between both parties based on your needs and the amount you have contributed to the assets.
Annulment may appear to be the simplest and most preferable way to split up with your spouse, but there are eligibility requirements to meet as well as legal procedures to follow.
Your marriage must be either void or voidable if you wish to apply for an annulment. This information can be found under Sections 105 and 106 of the Women’s Charter.
Marriages between Muslims that are registered or solemnised under civil law;
Marriages where one party is below the age of 18, unless the solemnisation was authorised by a special marriage licence;
Marriages between close relatives;
Marriages between people of the same gender;
Marriages which are not properly solemnised
Marriages that have not been consummated owing to the incapacity of either party;
Marriages that have not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal of either party;
Marriages that have taken place without either party’s valid consent, whether in consequence of duress, mistake, or mental disorder;
That at the time of marriage, parties had consented to the marriage but either party was suffering from a mental disorder that makes them unfit for marriage;
That at the time of marriage, either party was suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form;
That at the time of marriage, the wife was pregnant by some other person other than the husband
There is no 3-year waiting period in order to apply for an annulment in Singapore. It also does not affect the legitimacy of any children of your marriage. However, if your marriage is neither void or voidable, you will have to go through separation proceedings or file for a divorce and go through Singapore’s divorce process.
Parties who want to be separated from their spouses but are unable to or do not wish to file for divorce in Singapore may consider judicial separation. Couples who file for judicial separation will no longer be required to cohabit and can have ancillary issues addressed. Even after a judicial separation order is granted, couples are still considered legally married.
One might opt for judicial separation instead of divorce for moral or religious grounds. One main difference between judicial separation and that of a divorce is that the couple may still opt to reconcile after a judicial separation is granted, unlike parties to a divorce as the marriage would have been terminated as a result of divorce proceedings.
Judicial separation relieves the couple of their marital obligations and allows them to live separate and independent lives permanently. They also get to enjoy the same rights as if they had filed for divorce. For example, the division of matrimonial assets, child custody, care and control, as well as access arrangements. However, separated parties are not allowed to remarry.
To file for judicial separation, the couple must have been married for at least three years. They must also convince the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down due to any of Singapore’s grounds for divorce — adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation (3 years), or separation (4 years).
Whether you intend to annul your marriage or file for a divorce after separation, these are still legal procedures that you need to go through. Hence, it is wise to consult a family lawyer in Singapore to help you through the process.
Aspect Law Chambers LLC specialises in family law matters to help couples split up amicably in an efficient and cost effective manner. Get in touch with us for more assistance.
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