First Meeting with Your Divorce Lawyer: What to Bring
If you are contemplating a divorce, you may be wondering what documents you will need to bring when you first meet your divorce lawyer.
To provide some context, divorce proceedings consist of 2 main stages:
- The main proceedings which lead to the grant of an interim divorce order; and
- The ancillary proceedings focusing on ancillary matters related to the marriage such as maintenance and child custody, and which eventually leads to a final judgment.
Therefore, the documents you would need to bring are those which the court requires in these 2 stages of divorce proceedings. This article provides guidance on what these documents might be.
Personal Documents Relating to the Parties
Regardless of matter, you must bring your personal identification card at a first meeting with a lawyer. This is so that the lawyer can verify your identity.
For a divorce matter however, you will also need to bring the following personal documents:
- Your spouse’s personal identification card;
- Marriage certificate; and
- Birth certificates of the children of the marriage (if any).
These documents are relevant for the preparation of the Statement of Claim, which is filed at the commencement of divorce proceedings. It includes the following information:
- Particulars of the marriage. This includes the duration of the marriage, which is important because divorce proceedings generally can only be commenced after the parties have been married for at least 3 years.
- Particulars of the parties, including their ages, citizenship, addresses, education levels and occupations. This is important for establishing, among other things, the court’s matrimonial jurisdiction to hear the divorce proceedings. This is because the Singapore court has jurisdiction to hear divorce proceedings only if either party to the marriage is:
- Domiciled in Singapore (i.e. to reside or live in Singapore indefinitely) at the time of commencement of divorce proceedings; or
- Habitually resident in Singapore for 3 years before the commencement of divorce proceedings.
- Particulars of the parties’ children (if any). Where any children of the marriage suffer from any disabilities or chronic illnesses, you should also bring the relevant medical reports corroborating such conditions.
Evidence that the Marriage has Irretrievably Broken Down
At the first stage of divorce proceedings, the court considers whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down. You will have to show one of the following facts to satisfy the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down:
- Adultery: Your spouse has committed adultery, such that you find it intolerable to live with him/her;
- Unreasonable behaviour: Your spouse has behaved in a manner that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him/her;
- Desertion: Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 2 years before either party filed for divorce; or
- Separation: Both parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 4 years before filing for divorce. (Alternatively, 3 years is sufficient if your spouse consents to the divorce).
Therefore, you should bring evidence that may support the situation relevant to your circumstances. Commonly, such evidence may include:
- Private investigator reports, in the event of adultery;
- Communications between the parties such as text messages; or
- Medical reports in instances of domestic abuse.
Documents Relating to Maintenance
In the ancillary stage of the divorce proceedings, matters which the court will deal with are:
- Maintenance of spouse;
- Maintenance of children of the marriage (if any);
- Custody, care and control, and access to children to the marriage; and
- Division of matrimonial assets.
If you are seeking maintenance, you should provide a list of the monthly expenses of both yourself and your children (if any), accompanied by the relevant documentary proof of such expenses (such as receipts).
When determining whether to order maintenance, as well as the amount of maintenance to grant, the court will consider the financial capacities of both you and your spouse. Therefore, you should provide your lawyer with the following documents belonging to both parties, as far as possible:
- Documents proving both parties’ debts (e.g. Credit Bureau Reports);
- CPF statements;
- Evidence of employment (in the form of e.g. an employer’s letter or employment contract);
- Income tax documents; and
- Bank statements.
For more information on the awarding of spousal maintenance in Singapore, see here.
Documents Relating to Assets
For the purposes of division of matrimonial assets, you should bring documents relating to assets you own, and those you own jointly with your spouse.
These documents may include:
- Housing loan documents;
- Renovation receipts;
- Bank statements;
- Credit card statements;
- Any valuation reports;
- Income tax documents; and
- Insurance policies (if any).
It would also be useful to compile a list of such assets, together with their respective estimated values and the bases for such valuation.
If one of the assets is a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat, any CPF statements relating to payment for the flat, including Public Housing Scheme statements of accounts and withdrawal statements, should also be provided.
All personal information you provide to your lawyer will be kept strictly confidential and used only for the purposes of the divorce proceedings.
Please also note that this article only serves as a guide. You should always check with your divorce lawyer on exactly what items he or she requires you to bring.
If you don’t have a divorce lawyer yet, you can get in touch with one of our trusted divorce lawyers. Rest assured that they will keep your matter private and confidential.
For a comprehensive guide on divorce fees in Singapore, click here.
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