Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Divorce in Singapore: 6 Critical Things You Need To Know

Your mind has been made up; you want to divorce but want to make sure that you have taken all issues into account. Whilst the single most important requirement is that you meet the required 3 year marriage bar, there are more important issues to take into consideration. Careful planning and consideration has to be taken into account.The points below will touch briefly on critical aspects before commencing on your divorce proceedings.For more information please visit www.singaporedivorcelawyer.com.sg for all the information you need.

CPF and Divorce

This important issue is critical, as it could play a part in the future living arrangements of you and your loved ones.
Selling your matrimonial home
In a Singapore divorce proceeding, when you transfer or sell your matrimonial home, you must refund the principal CPF amount that you withdrew in the first place and additionally, the accrued interest. 
If you are 55 years old or older
CPF refunds will go to your Retirement Account until you reach your Minimum Sum. The CPF refunds will go to your Medisave Account up to the Medisave Minimum Sum. If, after the top up of your Retirement Account and Medisave Account, there are still excess refunds, the excess refunds will go back into your CPF account.
Transfers to ex-spouse
The court may direct you to transfer your share in the matrimonial property to your ex-spouse with partial or no refunds made to your CPF account. Click here for more information.
Division of Matrimonial Assets in Singapore
In Singapore, the court has the power to order the division of matrimonial assets in a fair manner. Here are some factors that the court will consider:
The extent of contributions made by each party in money
Needs of the children of the marriage
The extent of contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family
Any agreement between the parties with regards to the division of the matrimonial assets upon divorce
What are matrimonial assets?
Matrimonial assets include all property acquired during marriage.Similarly, assets acquired by way of “gifts” or “inheritance” are not matrimonial assets unless they refer to the “matrimonial home” or is an asset which has been substantially improved by both or the other party.

The Collaborative Divorce Approach
Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) is a dispute resolution process new to Singapore. It is a legal process whereby couples who have decided to separate or end their marriage, can avoid the lengthy and costly process of a contested divorce through negotiation.

The CFP alternative is right for you if you seek: 
·     A dignified approach to handling your divorce.
·     A fair and non-aggressive resolution of the issues based on the best interests of the family, not just the individual.
·     Guidance, support and advice on legal issues without the threat of fighting in Court.
·   Opportunity to work through the emotions and avoid misunderstandings so as to arrive at sound, well-thought out decisions.
·   To avoid the costs and emotional strain of Court proceedings.
·   You wish your dispute and the terms of your settlement to be confidential.
Contact our collaborative Divorce lawyer to discuss your specific concerns. The collaborative process may not be appropriate in all cases. Click here for more information.
First Meeting with Your Divorce Lawyer
Firstly, you should have an idea as to what you are going to ask the lawyer. To help you, you can write your questions and concerns down in a piece of paper or email them before your consultation.
The lawyer usually goes through a list of questions to obtain data about the parties:
  • Length of marriage,
  • Place of marriage,
  • No. of children
  • Details of the parties and personal background
  • History of the marriage,
  • Whether it is likely to be an uncontested or contested divorce,
  • Brief financial position
The lawyer will explain the various courses of action open to you, the court process and legal fees. The first consultation with your divorce lawyer can take at least 20 minutes to an hour.
What should you bring?
  • Marriage certificate copy
  • Birth certificate copy of the children
  • CPF / mortgage loan statement on property
  • Cheque Deposit if engaging the divorce lawyer

Child Custody Laws in Singapore
There are four types of custodies that may be granted by the Family Court in Singapore.
·  Sole Custody Order- The custodial parent is the sole decision maker of the welfare of the child.

·      Joint custody order- Both parents are decision makers of the welfare of the child.

·   Hybrid order- Custodial parent must consult the non-custodial parents on matters pertaining to the welfare of the child.

·   Split Custody order- custody of one or more siblings is granted to one parent and the custody of the other siblings is granted to the other parent.
When making a final parenting order, the family court is required to take into consideration, the best interests for the child. Parents should also use this principle when making their proposed parenting plans.

The priority of family court is to take into consideration, the benefit of a child`s meaningful relationship with both his/her parents and the need to protect the child from physical or psychological abuse.

The court takes into consideration:

-The child`s views and reasons which affect those views.

-The child`s relationship with his parents, grandparents and other relatives.

-The willingness and encouragement shown by each parent to encourage the child to continue a relationship with the other parent.

-The parents ability to provide for the child`s needs.

-The parent`s attitude towards the child and their upbringing.

-The maturity, sex and lifestyle of a child and of either of the child`s parents.

-The act or threat of violence involving a child or a member of the child’s family

For more details, click here.

New Changes in Singapore Divorce Law
To be implemented in October 2014, the new Family Justice Act seeks to transform the family justice system to lessen the anguish and hurt for family members.

The new Family Justice Courts will comprise of:

a a)    Family Court
b b)    Youth Court – replaces the current Juvenile Court
c c)    High Court (Family Division) – will hear appeal cases from the Family and Youth Courts

The new Family Justice Courts will specialise in family and child law, providing expertise for both parties to reach a fair and equitable settlement.

Modification of existing procedures and practices:

1.    A new judge-led approach – A judge will be appointed to each case, and will direct the case moving forward. This is in contrast to the old adversarial approach, where lawyers on opposing teams are primarily responsible for bringing matters forward. This aims to serve the needs and sensitivities of both parties (not merely one), and to benefit the family as a whole.

2.    New Central Registry – the Registry will manage all cases.
a a)    Urgent cases where violence and family safety issues are involved may be placed on an expedited track.

b b)    Cases will be handled in accordance with their requirements, in recognition of the fact that each case comes with its unique set of facts and circumstances.

3.    Family Justice Rules committee for a more efficient process
A contested divorce may often be a lengthy one. Multiple court documents need to be filed, with parties exchanging complicated affidavits several times. The Family Justice Rules committee will play a role in simplifying court forms, reducing the length of affidavits and developing templates to ensure that only relevant information is presented. This will reduce the time spent by lawyers in double-checking all pertinent details and result in lower lawyer’s and court fees. Also, fewer Pre-Trial Conferences (PTCs) will mean that the divorce process will be brought forward and can be concluded more quickly.

Where a child is involved

The court may appoint a registered medical practitioner, psychologist, counsellor, social worker or mental health professional to examine and assess the child with the function of preparing expert evidence for use in those proceedings. The child’s state of mind and well-being may be considered, with the professional healthcare or social worker providing help and support for the child during this difficult period.

More changes may be introduced in time to come. The Family Justice Act is only the first step in strengthening the social support network for families in difficulty. As we progress in time, the law evolves. Thus as lawyers, we keep ourselves apprised with the latest developments and latest court decisions that can affect a case, so that we can always provide the best advice to our client.

If you need legal representation, kindly contact Gloria James-Civetta & Co on 63370469, to get the legal advice you need.

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