Remarriage for Divorcees in Singapore: When Can I Remarry?
Life after divorce can be a new, unnerving experience for many. Nonetheless, a divorce does not mean the end of the road. For those who are thinking of remarrying under the civil law, whether to the same person or to another, here are several things you might want to consider:
When Can I Remarry?
After obtaining the Final Judgment
If you wish to remarry after a divorce, you must have first obtained the Certificate of Final Judgment for your divorce.
The Certificate of Final Judgment may be applied for if:
- It has been at least 3 months since receiving the Interim Judgment; and
- Orders on all outstanding ancillary matters have been made
What happens if you remarry without obtaining the Final Judgment?
Should you remarry without first obtaining the Final Judgment or remarry without going through a divorce, you could be convicted of an offence under section 6A of the Women’s Charter.
If found guilty, offenders could be punished with imprisonment for a term up to 7 years and liable to a fine up to $10,000.
If the offender concealed his/her former marriage from the person with whom he/she is marrying, he/she could be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years and liable to a fine of up to $15,000. There are however exceptions to this offence, which might include void marriages, or if the former husband/wife had been continually absent for 7 years at the time of the subsequent marriage. This is provided that such facts, within his/her knowledge, have been fully disclosed to his/her new spouse.
Speeding up the process: An abridgement of time
If you wish to remarry as soon as possible, you may attempt to speed up the process of obtaining the Final Judgment by filing for an abridgement of time.
An abridgement of time could shorten your wait time between the Interim Judgment and Final Judgment from 3 months to about 2 weeks.
However, note that this application is subject to the court’s decision.
Can I Remarry My Ex-Spouse?
There is no law in Singapore that states you cannot remarry your ex-spouse under civil law.
What is the Procedure For Remarriage in Singapore Under Civil Law?
Similar to the usual civil marriage procedure
A remarriage is similar to the usual civil marriage procedure. However, divorcees might need to submit divorce documents where relevant. This is because to ensure your new marriage is a legal one, the court needs to be sure you are no longer married to your ex-spouse i.e. your previous marriage has been legally dissolved.
Similarly, you will also need to make a statutory declaration stating that you are currently a divorcee.
Statutory declaration required on any existing maintenance orders
Divorcees who remarry must also make a statutory declaration on whether they have existing maintenance orders and whether they have been prompt or in arrears with the maintenance payments. This is because maintenance payments are considered a legal duty, and under the requirements of marriage, there must be no lawful impediment to the marriage.
Do I Need to Continue Complying With Any Maintenance/Custody Orders From My Previous Marriage? What Happens Otherwise?
Remarriage does not end any orders for spousal maintenance that you may have to comply with. It is only if it is your ex-spouse who has remarried that you will be able to stop paying maintenance to them.
Failure to comply with the maintenance order could be punishable with, amongst others, a fine or imprisonment up to 1 month for each month’s unpaid allowance.
On the other hand, parental responsibility lasts until the child attains the age of 21. Even if you or your ex-spouse remarries, it remains the duty of both parents to maintain or contribute to the maintenance of your children. This is regardless of whether the children are in your custody, or whether they are legitimate or illegitimate.
Children-Related Issues to Consider After Remarriage
Adopting your spouse’s child
You may decide to adopt your spouse’s child (i.e. your stepchild) after remarriage. Adoption is a process where parental rights over a child are conferred to the adopter(s), and the adopters take on all parental rights, duties, obligations and liabilities in relation to the child. Note that only a child under the age of 21 who has never been married may be adopted.
When the court grants an Adoption Order, a parent-child relationship is created such that the child is a legitimate child of his or her adoptive parent(s).
Under the Adoption of Children Act (ACA), the welfare of the child must be the priority. No exchange of money, unless authorised by the court, must be exchanged between the adopter and birth parents of the child throughout the adoption process.
Consent must also be given by every person whose consent is necessary, especially by both biological parents of your stepchild. Hence, if you wish to adopt your spouse’s child after remarrying a parent with children, you must seek consent from:
- The parents of the child (or the parents/guardians of such parents, if the child’s parents are below 21);
- The guardian of the child, if any;
- The person who has custody of the child;
- Persons liable to support the child
If your stepchild is a Singapore citizen or Permanent resident, the procedures for adopting a local child apply. However, if your stepchild has foreign citizenship, then the procedures for adopting a foreign child apply. Additional procedures apply if your stepchild is from the People’s Republic of China.
For a more detailed explanation of the adoption procedures, please refer to our article on adopting a child in Singapore.
Changing the surname of your adopted child
If you wish to change the surname of your adopted child, you will need a lawyer to draft a document known as a deed poll. The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) generally will not recognise a change in your name without a deed poll. A deed poll usually costs around S$100 in Singapore.
Before changing the child’s surname, consent from their biological father must first be obtained. If the biological father cannot be reached, an enquiry should be first made with the ICA before the execution of the deed poll. This is to avoid complications such as the ICA refusing to accept the deed poll, or disputes between the biological parents of the child.
Housing-Related Issues to Consider After Remarriage
If I’ve retained my HDB flat from my previous marriage, can I add my spouse’s name to it?
If you retained ownership of your flat from your previous marriage, you may add your spouse’s name to it as long as they meet the eligibility criteria mandated by HDB. This is done by applying for a transfer of flat ownership.
Before doing so, however, it would be useful to consider several things, such as:
- Breaking down the finances required for the transfer of flat ownership such as administrative fees, stamp fees, conveyancing fees and valuation fee
- Determining whether you require a mortgage loan for the transfer
- Determining your spouse’s eligibility for an HDB loan (further explanation under next section of the article)
- Determining other payments or liabilities to be settled, such as an outstanding resale levy or sales premium and outstanding amounts to pay HDB
- Appointing a conveyancing lawyer
Manner of holding the HDB flat
Since there will now be more than 1 proposed owner, you and your spouse will need to decide on the manner of holding the flat upon the transfer of ownership. Possible options include joint-tenancy or tenancy-in-common and they have their own pros and cons.
Can I buy another flat with my new spouse, if I previously owned a flat with my ex-spouse but have withdrawn my ownership?
Yes, you may, provided you settle any outstanding debts or monies owed to HDB and pay an administration charge determined by HDB. Only then can you buy or take possession of a new flat.
If you intend to buy another flat with your new spouse using a second mortgage loan from HDB, you must use your CPF refund and cash consideration (if any, up to 50% of the consideration) to reduce the loan quantum.
It is important to note that if the matrimonial flat with your ex-spouse is a subsidised flat, you and your ex-spouse will be considered to have enjoyed 1 housing subsidy. As a result, you will need to pay your respective share of the resale levy if you are buying another subsidised flat/ EC unit.
When it comes to remarrying, ensuring that you meet the remarriage eligibility requirements and careful consideration of child and housing issues will go a long way in helping you decide whether you are ready for another huge commitment.
If you are finding it difficult to handle legal issues such as obtaining the Final Judgment, filing for an Abridgement of Time, or facilitating housing and child issues after remarriage, you may wish to contact our experienced divorce lawyers for assistance.
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