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Restriction on filing for Divorce in Singapore


3-Year Bar
Under section 94 of the Singapore Women’s Charter, one is not allowed to file for divorce during the first 3 years of marriage.

The intention of this section is to promote sanctity of marriage and to ensure that parties do not rush in and out of marriage capriciously

Exception: To get out of the marriage despite the 3-Year-Bar
The only exception to this rule is where you are able to show the court that you have suffered exceptional hardship and that there is exceptional depravity on the part of your spouse.

To rely on this exception, you would have to make an application to the court in accordance with the Rules of Court. Where the court is satisfied with your application, it would grant leave for you to file the writ and you may be able to get out of your marriage. It is a further requirement that either spouse must have (1) treated Singapore as their permanent place of residence at the start of the divorce proceedings OR (2) resided in Singapore for at least 3 years immediately before the start of divorce proceedings.

What Constitutes Exceptional Hardship and Exceptional Depravity?
Exceptional hardship is found when the problems in the marriage is quite out of the ordinary and they are more than what an ordinary person should reasonably be asked to bear.

For example, where the wife did not allow any intimacy between herself and her husband and then returned to China, vowing to never return back to Singapore, the court found that exceptional hardship was present (Ng Kee Shee).

Also, where the wife, on many occasions, was intentionally intimate with another man in her matrimonial home in front of her husband, the court held that the husband suffered from exceptional hardship and there was exceptional depravity on the part of the wife (Foo Teck Kuan v Chan Yoke Han). In this case, the husband was so devastated that he could not work, had to be clinically assessed and had to consume anti-depressants.

You should seek advice from an experienced divorce lawyer to establish which is the best path for you to move forward.

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