Divorce Mediation in Singapore

Last updated on January 9, 2024

Featured image for the "Divorce Mediation in Singapore" article. It features a family in a mediation session with a professional.

There is a growing number of mediation schemes in place for couples seeking a divorce in Singapore. If you are considering a divorce, or are undergoing divorce proceedings, you are highly encouraged to attend mediation sessions. This may help to expedite agreements regarding custody and assets, and end the marriage in a more amicable manner.

There are two possible routes for mediation:

  • Court-based mediation
  • Private family mediation (Conducted out of court)

Court-based Mediation

I. Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Programme 

With the establishment of the Family Justice Court in 2014, the Child Focused Resolution Centre (CFRC) has been merged to form the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Division of FJC at 5 Maxwell Road #04-00, Tower Block, MND Complex Singapore 069110.

The FDR programme is compulsory for couples with children under 21 years of age, and who are opting for a contested divorce. Divorcing couples will be sent formal notices to attend the sessions, which are conducted free of charge.

For divorcing couples with no children, or with children above 21 years old, the Family Court can also fix the case for counselling and/or mediation if the court is of the view that you and your spouse should try to resolve matters amicably. Alternatively, both you and your spouse may request mediation to be convened to resolve the divorce or financial issues.

The FDR programme consists of three stages:

  1. FDR Conference
  2. Counselling sessions
  3. Mediation or co-mediation sessions

Counselling and mediation sessions allow parents to discuss their differences more amicably and focus on effective co-parenting for their child(ren).

Should you have appointed lawyers to represent you, you should attend the FDR conference and mediation sessions with your lawyer so that he/she may advise you on various matters, such as whether the proposal by your spouse is considered reasonable.

1. FDR Conference

At the FDR conference, parties and their lawyers (if any) will meet with a judge and a court family specialist (CFS). The judge and the CFS will clarify the issues of disagreement and set the agenda for mediation and counselling.

The judge may also schedule dates for mediation or co-mediation sessions.

2. Counselling sessions

After the FDR conference, parties will attend their first counselling session with the CFS. This session is known as the intake and assessment.

The CFS will follow up with subsequent counselling sessions if necessary.

3. Mediation or co-mediation sessions

Parties and their lawyers (if any) will meet with a mediator to discuss the issues of disagreement, explore options and agree on sustainable solutions, where possible as well as reach an agreement on co-parenting arrangements for their children.

If the mediator finds that there are complex legal and emotional issues to resolve in a case, they may call for co-mediation with a CFS. During co-mediation, the mediator and the CFS may also hold sessions with the parties’ children.

If parties can reach an agreement, the court may record the terms the parties agree on as a court order.
Otherwise, the court will give directions for the parties to prepare for a hearing.

Mediation may take place at any time during the divorce proceedings. Typically:

  • Before or shortly after it is clear that your spouse is not agreeable to the divorce.
  • If your spouse agrees to the divorce but not the ancillary matters, mediation will take
    place shortly after the Interim Judgment has been granted, before you file the
    Affidavit of Assets and Means.

The length of mediation and co-mediation sessions depends on the requirements of the case. It may take more than one session for the parties to reach a settlement on the disputed issues.

You may refer here for more information on the FDR programme.

Private/Out-of-Court Mediation

Unlike court-based mediation sessions which are mostly compulsory or directed, these private mediation sessions are voluntary and applicants have to take the initiative to sign up for such mediation schemes. With private mediation, parties are in a better position to decide the time frame of the mediation process as compared to that for court-based mediation.

Parties may also undergo mediation before filing any court papers, thus leaving open the possibility of an uncontested divorce should the result of mediation be successful. However, private mediation comes at a fee, unlike court-based mediation sessions.

I. Family Mediation Procedure Rules Scheme

The Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC) has developed a cheaper and faster alternative to litigation of matrimonial matters, in the form of their Family Mediation Procedure Rules scheme. Under this scheme, the mediator, as a neutral third party, will assist couples undergoing divorce to resolve the relevant issues involved.

SMC will appoint experienced mediators with family law expertise from its family panel.

The aims of the Family Mediation Procedure Rules scheme are to:

  • Encourage conciliation to end family discord
  • Smooth out domestic conflicts and foster long-term family ties
  • Keep costs affordable, in turn, minimising emotional turmoil faced by family members

The sessions will be conducted in absolute confidentiality, with no recording in any form allowed. Following mediation, should the parties manage to reach an agreement, it will only be binding when it is recorded in writing and signed by both parties.

Each party is required to pay an initial, non-refundable filing fee of $272.50 to SMC. Following which, the mediation fee payable per party per day is $2,783.58. Additional charges may apply should the sessions be conducted overtime, or on a weekend or public holiday. Should parties choose their own mediator, the mediator is entitled to charge commercial rates and the mediation fee will not be applicable.

II. Collaborative Family Practice

The Collaborative Family Practice (CFP) was introduced in 2013 and is an alternative option divorcing couples can consider. Similar to the Family Mediation Scheme, the CFP is run by SMC. The CFP is undertaken before the commencement of any court proceedings, and must be agreed on by both parties.

Most disputes will be suitable for CFP, except those which involve:

  1. A party who is incapacitated in some way;
  2. There is a history of violence or substance abuse; or
  3. There are serious concerns about dishonesty.

Under CFP, specially-trained lawyers are assigned to help couples negotiate issues involved in a divorce. It aims to assist couples in reaching an agreement by addressing the needs of both parties, thereby avoiding the acrimony caused by litigation altogether.

The CFP lawyers will play a more facilitative role by encouraging the couple to communicate directly with each other. They will provide legal advice where necessary, and try to help parties reach a consensus on legal issues. Should an agreement be reached between parties through the CFP, the agreement will be filed with the Family Justice Courts, which will prioritize closing the case.

However, should the couple fail to reach an agreement, the representing lawyers are not allowed to further represent their clients. Instead, parties will have to engage another lawyer to represent them for divorce proceedings. This incentivizes couples to reach a resolution. 

Nonetheless, this may also mean that acrimonious couples whose negotiations are in a stalemate may be stranded, unless they are willing to pay the cost of hiring another lawyer out of the scheme. In contrast, under mediation outside of the CFP, even if negotiations were futile, parties are allowed to retain their lawyers and commence court proceedings.

A deposit is payable to SMC once the CFP lawyers are assigned. Do note that there is a fixed hourly rate of $436 under the CFP. The application form for the CFP can be similarly obtained from the SMC website.

Mediation is Not a Must

Nonetheless, divorce mediation may not be necessary for every couple undergoing divorce. If couples, especially those opting for an uncontested divorce, are able to reach a consensus amongst themselves on the key issues, mediation may be unnecessary. Hence it is best for divorcing couples to discern their most appropriate course of action before commencing divorce proceedings.

Before getting a divorce
  1. Drafting a Deed of Separation in Singapore (Instead of Divorcing)
  2. Alternatives to Divorce in Singapore: A Practical Guide
  3. Process for Getting Divorced in Singapore (With Diagram)
  4. What are the Legal Grounds for Getting a Divorce?
  5. 3 Finance Questions To Ask Before a Divorce
  6. Practical Preparations for a Divorce
  7. How to Divorce Within 3 Years of Marriage in Singapore
  8. Getting Divorced: Documents and Evidence to Prepare
  9. Getting a Divorce Due to “Irreconcilable Differences” in Singapore
  10. Online Divorce in Singapore: How It Works and Should You Get One?
  11. How Can I Divorce Overseas After Marrying in Singapore?
Divorce Fees
  1. Comprehensive Guide to Divorce Fees in Singapore
Getting a Divorce Lawyer
  1. 7 Experienced Female Divorce Lawyers in Singapore (2024)
  2. Can a Divorcing Couple Use the Same Lawyer? Pros and Cons
  3. 7 Best Divorce and Family Lawyers in Singapore (2024)
  4. The Complete Guide to Choosing a Good Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  5. Don’t Just Go for the Cheapest Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
  6. Find Highly Rated Divorce Lawyers in Singapore
  7. Child Custody Lawyers in Singapore: Do I Need One?
Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage
  1. How to Prove Adultery for Divorce Purposes in Singapore
  2. Getting a Divorce: How to Prove Desertion
  3. Getting a Divorce by Mutual Agreement in Singapore
  4. How to Prove Unreasonable Behaviour in a Singapore Divorce
  5. How to Prove Separation for a Singapore Divorce
Application for Divorce Part I: Dissolution of Marriage
  1. Your Spouse Doesn't Want to Divorce: What to Do
  2. Procedure for Dissolution of Marriage
  3. Simplified Uncontested Divorce vs Contested Divorce in Singapore
  4. Mandatory Parenting Programme Guide for Divorcing Parents
  5. Divorce Mediation in Singapore
  6. Divorce Application: What to Do If Your Spouse Cannot be Found
Application for Divorce Part 2: Ancillary Matters (Maintenance, Assets, Custody)
  1. Contempt of Court in Divorce: When You Can be Punished
  2. Guide to Co-Parenting for Divorcing Parents in Singapore
  3. Procedure for Ancillary Matters
  4. Maintenance of Spouse in a Singapore Divorce
  5. Filling in a Matrimonial Property Plan for a Singapore Divorce
  6. Dividing Matrimonial Assets in a Singapore Divorce
  7. What Happens to Your HDB Flat after Divorce?
  8. What Happens to Gifts Between Spouses During a Divorce?
  9. What Happens to Property and Assets Located Overseas Upon a Divorce in Singapore?
  10. Child Custody, Care and Control & Access: Singapore Guide
  11. Getting Divorced: Child Maintenance in Singapore
  12. Singapore Divorcee's Guide to Relocating Your Child Overseas
  1. How to Vary a Child Custody Order in Singapore
  2. How to Appeal Your Divorce Case in Singapore
  3. Divorce Certs in Singapore: How to Get a Copy and Other FAQs
  4. Transfer of Matrimonial Home to Ex-Spouse After Divorce
  5. Can Divorcees Buy or Rent HDB Flats, and How?
  6. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Does Not Provide Maintenance
  7. How to Vary a Maintenance Order After a Singapore Divorce
  8. What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Denies You Access to Your Child
  9. Division of CPF Assets (Monies, House, Investments) After a Divorce
Expatriate Divorce
  1. Divorce for British Expats: Spousal Maintenance Under the Law of England and Wales
  2. Settling Ancillary Matters in Singapore After Foreign Divorce
  3. Typical issues in Singapore/England Divorces
  4. Immigration Issues for Divorcing Expatriates
  5. Can Foreigners Divorce in Singapore?
  6. Expat or Foreigner Divorce in Singapore: 10 Legal Issues to Consider
  7. Hague Convention: Overseas Child Abduction in Singapore Divorce
  8. Case Study: Cross-Border Child Custody and the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction
  9. Can British Expats in Singapore Choose to Divorce in England?
  10. Divorce for British Expats: Approach to Matrimonial and Non-Matrimonial Assets in England vs Singapore
  11. Divorce for British Expats: How the English Courts Deal with Financial Matters
Muslim or Syariah Divorce
  1. Fasakh in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore: Grounds & Process
  2. Divorce by Cerai Taklik: Guide for Muslim Wives in Singapore
  3. Muslim Divorce in Singapore
  4. Talak in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore (and Its Effects)
  5. Guide to Divorcing by Khuluk for Muslim Wives in Singapore
  6. Applying for Nafkah Idaah and Mutaah in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore
Other divorce matters
  1. Guide to Personal Protection Orders in Singapore
  2. Case Study - Love conquers All: The Divorce That Didn’t Happen
  1. Annulling a Singapore Marriage: Requirements and Process
  2. What Happens to Your HDB Flat After an Annulment?
  1. Separation in Singapore Via Deed of Separation and More
  2. Judicial or Legal Separation in Singapore: When and How to File
Prenuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements
  1. Prenuptial Agreements in Singapore
  2. Should You Make a Post-Nuptial Agreement in Singapore?