Typical issues in Singapore/England Divorces

Last updated on March 3, 2023

Angry couple standing with their backs faced

As if a divorce is not difficult enough, a divorce with an international dimension has many additional layers of complexity. This article provides a brief overview of the most common issues that arise in the context of divorces that cross Singapore and English jurisdiction.

13 Common Issues in Singapore/England Divorces

1. An expat couple can divorce in Singapore only if one of the parties is domiciled in Singapore at the start of proceedings, or has been habitually resident in Singapore for 3 years.

2. On separation, one parent might want to relocate with the children back to England. They may have only ever considered the move to  Singapore as temporary assignment, and they view the separation as the obvious trigger to return. However, what if the other parent wishes to remain in Singapore and does not wish to be separated from the children? Because the children are likely to have become “habitually resident” in Singapore, the parent who wishes to return to England has to make a formal court application in Singapore for permission to relocate the children.

3. It is not uncommon for the parent who wants to stay in Singapore to attempt to use consent to relocate the children as leverage in financial negotiations i.e. consent to relocate with the children is withheld unless the other party agrees to an imbalanced financial settlement.

4. If a parent gambles and chooses to flee to England with the children, without the other parents’ consent, they are at risk of a Hague Convention return application. If a legal defence cannot be established, they can be forced to bring the children back to Singapore.

5. All else being equal, female higher earners can be better off divorcing in Singapore because spousal maintenance to husbands is payable only in very limited circumstances. The law in England is, at least in theory, gender neutral.

6. In a Singapore divorce, non-matrimonial assets can be definitively excluded from division. In England, non-matrimonial assets can be accessed to meet “needs”. Needs are an elastic concept and can be measured in 6 or even 7 figures.

7. Attempts to divorce in Singapore to achieve a particular financial outcome have to be balanced against potential subsequent financial claims that could be made in England for a financial settlement after a foreign divorce (known as “Part III” claims). The Singapore Court of Appeal case, VEW and VEV [2022], confirmed that where British expats have a Singapore divorce imposed upon them, and certain assets were excluded from division because they were defined as “non-matrimonial”, it is a viable route to pursue Part III claims in England to seek additional financial provision.

8. Forum disputes. The strategic advantages of pursuing a Singapore divorce and defending English jurisdiction should be considered carefully in the context of the availability of Part III claims. Is there sufficient value spending time and resources fighting for Singapore jurisdiction if the English court can step in at a later date anyway to improve the outcome?

9. A dependant spouse’s immigration status is commonly based on their marriage to the holder of the employment visa. When the marriage ends, the children’s dependant pass is retained, but the spouse’s dependant pass expires. There are limited solutions.

10. Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live. School fees are a major expense for those without traditional expat packages. Rental prices in Singapore have recently reached all-time highs. It is significantly more difficult to fund two households in Singapore from the same limited resources.

11. If party A remains in Singapore and party B returns to England, should A receive, on a needs basis, a greater share of the assets and the income to reflect the higher cost of living in Singapore?

12. In a Singapore divorce there is restricted access to legal aid and litigation loans, and no equivalent of Legal Services Orders (which can force the party with control of family resources to pay the other’s legal fees).

13. Enforcing Singapore orders in England (and vice versa) is not straightforward. The enforcement process varies depending on whether the order relates to maintenance, property transfer, a lump sum or pension sharing.

Anyone considering (or likely to be subject to) a divorce while living abroad should take specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

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?