In recent years, Singapore has seen a rise in expatriate families choosing Singapore as their home and mixed marriages between locals and foreigners.
Many times, the trailing spouse of an expatriate relocating to Singapore to work or the foreign spouse of the Singaporean would hold Permanent Residency (PR) status or would be residing in Singapore on an Employment Pass (EP), Dependent Pass (DP) or Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP).
For these couples, when faced with divorce, the looming question for the foreign spouse often becomes: “Can I stay in Singapore?”
What Happens to My PR Status after a Divorce?
Generally, a divorce does not automatically revoke your PR status, especially when your PR status was obtained independently from your spouse. However, for those who have obtained their PR through marriage, a divorce may result in your PR status being reassessed, especially if there are no other strong economic or social ties to Singapore.
Do note that these are general guidelines, and the final decision on one’s PR status rests with the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority. Therefore, it’s advisable to seek legal advice and/or guidance to better understand the implications on your residency status in Singapore following post-divorce.
I am not a Permanent Resident in Singapore. Will I be able to stay in Singapore after my divorce?
The answer depends on your current residency status in Singapore:
- Employment Pass: For foreigners working in Singapore on an EP, a divorce would generally not affect your residency status in Singapore as your residency in Singapore is tied to your employment.
- Dependent Pass: If you are on a DP tied to your spouse, divorce often means that your DP will be cancelled and you will not be able to remain in Singapore unless you can obtain an EP.
- Long-Term Visit Pass: Similarly, if you are living in Singapore on a LTVP, a divorce would often mean that your residency status in Singapore would be affected, unless you are able to obtain an EP.
What happens to my child if I have to leave Singapore after my divorce?
If your child is on a DP tied to your spouse, their residency status will not be affected following a divorce if your spouse continues to have custody of the children. Similarly, if your child is a Singaporean, the divorce will not affect their ability to remain in Singapore.
While remaining in Singapore might be the default for some parents, especially where the children are already settled in local schools, some parents may desire to relocate with their children after divorce. This, however hinges on several considerations.
The crucial first step is seeking your ex-spouse’s consent for the children to relocate with you. A written agreement outlining the terms of the move, including visitation arrangements, is highly recommended. This demonstrates mutual understanding and cooperation, prioritizing the children’s well-being. If your ex-spouse objects to the relocation or an agreement cannot be reached, you may need to apply to the Court for an order granting you permission to relocate. The Court’s decision will then depend on whether the relocation is in the best interests and welfare of the children.
Do note that leaving Singapore with the children without your spouse’s consent or a court order constitutes parental child abduction. Your ex-spouse may be able to apply for the children’s return through the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Every marital situation is unique. At GJC Law, our committed family lawyers will take the time to understand your individual circumstances and offer tailored advice and strategies to guide you through this challenging period.