Online Divorce in Singapore: How It Works and Should You Get One?
If you and your spouse have mutually and amicably agreed to end your marriage and have also agreed on issues like division of assets and child custody matters (if applicable), you may consider the option of getting an online divorce.
Online divorces may be a more discreet and convenient way of getting a divorce. This article will explain what you need to know about getting an online divorce in Singapore, and highlight some key considerations for you to bear in mind before doing so.
What are the Requirements for Getting an Online Divorce?
To get an online divorce, you must still meet the legal requirements as you would if you were filing for a divorce in court through the “usual” divorce proceedings.
First, either you or your spouse must be domiciled in Singapore (i.e. you reside in Singapore and intend to live here indefinitely) at the point of getting an online divorce or habitually resident in Singapore for at least 3 years, prior to the online divorce.
In addition, you and your spouse must have been married for at least 3 years, unless the party filing for divorce has suffered exceptional hardship or exceptionally unreasonable and cruel behaviour.
Next, you must also meet the legal ground for obtaining a divorce in Singapore, i.e. you must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This must be due to one or more of the following reasons under section 95(3) of the Women’s Charter, namely:
- That your spouse has committed adultery, and you find it intolerable to live with him or her
- That your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her
- That your spouse has deserted you for at least 2 years
- If your spouse agrees to the divorce, that you and your spouse have been separated for at least 3 years
- If your spouse does not agree to the divorce, that you and your spouse have been separated for at least 4 years.
Another option – “divorce by mutual agreement” – will come into effect in 2023. This will allow spouses to prove irretrievable breakdown of marriage through mutually agreeing, and explaining to the court, that the marriage has broken down in that way.
Do note that if you were married under Muslim law, these requirements may not be applicable and you may not be able to get an online divorce. You may wish to refer to our article on the requirements for a Muslim divorce instead.
What Should I Consider Prior to Filing for an Online Divorce?
Some considerations that you might wish to bear in mind in deciding whether or not you wish to file for an online divorce include:
Is the divorce contested or uncontested?
Online divorces are generally more suitable for simplified uncontested divorces, where you and your spouse would have reached a consensus on all issues to the divorce before filing for divorce.
This means that the proceedings are relatively straightforward and to save time and costs (of court hearings and divorce lawyer fees), you can elect for an online divorce by completing the relevant forms and, having the divorce documents prepared and sent to you before bringing the proceedings to a close.
On the other hand, contested divorce proceedings can be complex and unsuited for an online divorce. If a divorce is contested, this means that at least one issue of the divorce still needs to be resolved between you and your spouse.
Such issues can include, child custody and access, or the division of property and assets. In contested divorce proceedings, you and your spouse will have to attend trial and provide evidence to support your respective cases on how these issues should be resolved. This cannot be done via online divorce forms.
In addition to resolving these issues, you and your spouse may need to hire a divorce lawyer to represent you throughout the court proceedings to protect your respective interests, and those of your children, if any.
Please refer to our other article for a more detailed explanation of the differences between simplified uncontested divorce and contested divorce.
How much will the divorce cost me?
The cost of getting an online divorce is also an important factor for consideration.
Currently, the cheapest option for an online divorce costs S$599. However, this cost excludes court filing, processing and transmission fees, for the various documents and orders that need to be filed. These costs can add up to between S$400 to S$500 on average, which means the total cost for getting an online divorce would be approximately S$1,000.
When you add the sums together, the total amount for getting an online divorce is quite comparable to the cheapest “traditional” simplified uncontested divorce option, which averages approximately S$1,500 to S$2,000.
What Does an Online Divorce Entail?
Online divorce services help with generating divorce documents and commencing divorce proceedings without the need to go to court, which can be time-consuming and costly.
Typically, for most online divorce platforms, you are first required to complete a short form to determine your eligibility for getting an online divorce. In other words, you will need to meet the legal requirements for getting a divorce in Singapore as well as the online requirement that the divorce is uncontested (as discussed above).
If you satisfy the eligibility requirements, you will be directed to an online form that you will have to complete using you and your spouse’s personal particulars as well as the particulars of your marriage (e.g. marriage certificate number and date of solemnisation).
Depending on the online divorce service, the information that you provide may be used by the lawyers to prepare the relevant divorce documents and send them to you. Alternatively, the divorce documents may be generated as soon as you complete the relevant online forms, which you can then immediately access online.
These documents include:
- Writ for Divorce: this is the document that you would file in court if you are initiating the divorce against your spouse. This document formally initiates the divorce proceedings;
- Statement of Claim: this specifies the reason why you are seeking the divorce, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour for example; and
- Statement of Particulars: this gives further details of the ground for divorce indicated in your Statement of Claim.
Once you’ve obtained the divorce documents, you are required to file them with the court in order for your divorce to be finalised. Some online divorce services may require you to file the divorce documents yourself, whereas other online divorce services may file them on your behalf.
Is an Online Divorce Legally Recognised?
Yes, online divorces are legally recognised by Singapore courts. This is because the documents and court orders are identical to those that are filed in traditional divorce proceedings.
What are the Options for Getting an Online Divorce in Singapore?
The table below summarises some of the current options available in Singapore for getting an online divorce:
How does it work?
Divorce Bureau employs a 3-step process to file for a divorce online.
- First, you will need to determine your eligibility for an online divorce.
- You can then use the online portal to complete an online information form to create the divorce documents. This form will require you to include your personal details and those of your marriage to your spouse.
- Once the online form is completed, the divorce documents will be generated and you will be able to access them online. You are required to file the divorce documents with the Family Justice Courts yourself.
How much does it cost?
The cost is S$599 nett to prepare the documents once you have submitted your and your spouse’s and marriage particulars.
The platform also offers the option of a “PLUS” service at an additional cost of S$380. This amount covers the filing fees for filing the papers in court on your behalf. However, this does not include other third-party charges (e.g. fees for a bankruptcy search to determine the financial status of your spouse).
There is also an option to get legal advice on a per-session basis from a senior lawyer. This is available at S$150 nett per session as another add-on service.
How does it work?
At Law.com.sg, you are required to complete and submit an online form. You will then be contacted by a divorce lawyer who will assist you with the next steps in the divorce proceedings and who will subsequently represent you in your divorce proceedings.
How much does it cost?
The website allows you to complete an online divorce quote form, where you will receive an estimated quotation on how much the online divorce proceedings would cost.
The options set out above are summarised in the table below:
|Platform||How does the service work?||How much does the service cost?||Will you be legally represented?|
|Divorce Bureau||Through a 3-step process:
1. Determine your eligibility for an online divorce;
2. Complete an online form; and
3. Your divorce documents will be generated and you may access them online.
|S$599 nett for online divorce service only||No|
|Law.com.sg||After completing an online form, you will be contacted by a divorce lawyer who will guide you through the next steps in the divorce proceedings.||A fee quotation will be given after you submit the relevant form||Yes|
What are Some of the Limitations of Filing for an Online Divorce?
Additional fees for legal advice
Most online divorce services typically do not provide legal consultations with a divorce lawyer as part of the service. This is unless you require assistance with completing the online forms or with the filing process for the divorce documents.
For example, platforms like Divorce Bureau offer an add-on “Legal Advice” service at a cost of S$150 per session (as mentioned above). This will allow you to have a single consultation session with a senior family lawyer on their panel if you want further information about getting a divorce before deciding whether to go ahead with the divorce.
Strict eligibility requirements
As highlighted earlier, online divorces are best suited for simplified uncontested divorces. Hence, if your spouse intends to or is likely to contest the divorce, an online divorce would not be a suitable option.
Online divorce services are also currently not available to individuals who are married under Muslim, or Syariah law (as mentioned above).
Filing of court orders and documents
Depending on the online divorce service, you may be required to file the court documents yourself. This can be done by visiting a CrimsonLogic Service Bureau, which could be a potential inconvenience. In addition, you will need to understand the filing process in order to file your documents correctly.
Potential security concerns
You may be required to provide sensitive data about you and your spouse to the platforms to generate the relevant information for the court orders and divorce documents.
There could be concerns about whether these platforms have taken sufficient security measures to ensure the safety of your data.
What is an Alternative to an Online Divorce?
An alternative to getting an online divorce would be to commence divorce proceedings in court by hiring a lawyer to represent you and commence divorce proceedings on your behalf.
This is especially if your divorce is likely to be contested by your spouse, or there are other issues that can complicate the proceedings. For example:
- You are concerned about the safety and security of yourself or your children (e.g. your spouse has a history of abuse and/or has threatened to physically harm you or your children);
- You and your spouse are very high income-earners with significant accumulated wealth and/or assets, or the financial matters involved in the divorce are complex;
- You and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on issues like division of assets; and
- You and your spouse have children below 21 years old, which will give rise to child custody matters.
For more complicated divorce cases, a divorce lawyer will be able to advise you on possible strategies forward to ensure that your interests, and those of your children if applicable, are protected as far as possible. In these circumstances, consulting a divorce lawyer would be more beneficial than filing for an online divorce.
Online divorces are therefore a viable option to consider if you and your spouse have mutually agreed to a divorce and the proceedings are likely to be simplified and uncontested.
However, if you are contemplating a divorce from your spouse and wish to get further advice on your matter, you may also wish to contact the divorce lawyers listed on our platform.
As experienced family law practitioners and professionals, they will be able to better advise you on the relevant procedures involved. This is especially if the divorce is likely to be contested by your spouse, the financial matters are very complex, or child custody issues are likely to arise.
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