How to Prove Separation for a Singapore Divorce

Last updated on March 15, 2022

Featured image for the "How to Prove Separation for a Singapore Divorce" article. It features an angry couple splitting a house in half and moving the 2 halves apart.

In a divorce in Singapore, the only legal ground for commencing proceedings is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. To prove this, there can either be justifications based on fault (adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion) or non-fault (separation).

For the latter, 3 years of separation is required in cases of non-contested divorces. For contested divorces, 4 years of separation is required. How then, does one prove that there was indeed separation, especially if the couple continues to live in the same house during the period of separation?

Physical Separation Alone is Not Enough

It would be easier to prove separation if the couple decides to live apart from each other during the period of separation. However, past cases have shown that the presence of physical separation alone is insufficient.

There must also be intention on the part of both parties to be apart. For example, if one spouse is obliged to live abroad due to business matters, this will not constitute separation for the purposes of the divorce.

Furthermore, with physical separation, there must also be a loss of consortium. Consortium is the right of companionship and association with each other in a marriage. A couple who is living apart but whose daily conduct suggests that they did not intend to put an end to the marriage will not be considered separated for the purpose of a divorce.

For example, should a spouse continue to do everything which he/she had been doing before moving out, especially if they are done together as a couple, the separation would not be considered valid.

To illustrate, there was a case where the husband moved out of the matrimonial home but continued to carry on a normal marital relationship and family life with his wife. The court ruled that the couple had not separated during this period but had continued to live in the same household. This was even though the husband had expressly told the wife that he could not live with her, and no longer slept in the same house as her.

Any physical separation should be done for a continuous period. Nonetheless, if a couple resumed cohabitation for a duration of 6 months or less, the judge will not take it into consideration. This is to promote attempts at reconciliation.

Separated but Living Together

Even if a couple decides to live under the same roof during their period of separation, it is still possible to prove the separation. Parties may be living together physically, but must maintain separate households.

This is a fact-centric matter which the judge will look at all circumstances to determine if there was a loss of consortium and a breakdown in marriage between the couple even whilst living together.

To bolster your case that the separation was valid, it is advised that you do not perform typical spousal duties for your spouse when living in the same space, such as cooking or cleaning for each other. You and your spouse should also keep your financial expenses separate, and sleep in different bedrooms.

The fact that the spouse did not obtain a final judgment (i.e. a court document that finalises the divorce after all related matters have been concluded) also does not change the fact that the judge may not give it much consideration in its entirety.

Separation vs Desertion in Singapore

Desertion is another possible justification for a divorce. However, it is distinct from separation.

Whether conduct can be considered as desertion depends on the deserting party’s frame of mind. It must be shown that the deserting party had intended to bring the marriage to a permanent end. Hence, an agreed separation cannot give rise to desertion on the part of the spouse who leaves. This is unless both parties originally agreed to separation, and one party later offered to resume cohabitation but the other refused the offer.

The desertion must also have occurred for a continuous period of 2 years, and is likely to continue until the commencement of proceedings.

Procedure for Proving Separation in Singapore

If you and your spouse have decided on an uncontested divorce, you should obtain a formal consent in written form from your spouse, which can be filed in the Memorandum of Appearance (MOA). The MOA is one of several documents to be filed for the purpose of divorce proceedings.

You are also encouraged to apply for a deed of separation before proceedings are commenced, so as to set out arrangements relating to issues such as assets and finances.

When filing for divorce, a statement of particulars should be provided stating the date on which separation was commenced, and the duration of the separation. This should be the date you and your spouse intentionally decided to bring the consortium to a permanent end.

The reason for you and your spouse’s intention to live separately should also be provided. If you and your spouse lived in separate physical locations, the different residential addresses should be included if known. If you and your spouse remained in the same home during the period of separation, you should provide details of how the both of you maintained separate households during this time.

Ultimately, when determining if the separation is valid to justify the divorce, the judge will consider how the interests of the children (if any) may be affected by a dissolution of their parents’ marriage, as well as whether it would be just and reasonable to grant an interim judgment in favour of the divorce.

You should also provide as much evidence of the separation as possible in order to strengthen your case.

If you are still unsure of whether you have sufficient proof of separation, you may want to approach one of our experienced divorce lawyers for advice. The lawyer will be able to review the available evidence of separation, advise you on its sufficiency and also share other options for obtaining a divorce if proving separation will be a challenge.

For a comprehensive guide on the costs of engaging a divorce lawyer in Singapore, click here.

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?