The exceptions to this rule are where you are able to show the court that you have suffered exceptional hardship or that there is exceptional depravity on the part of your spouse.
To rely on these exceptions, you would have to make an application to the court. Where the court is satisfied with your application, it would grant leave for you to file for divorce.
It is a further requirement that either spouse must have:
- treated Singapore as their permanent place of residence at the start of the divorce proceedings, or
- 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 (Ng Kee Shee).
However, do note that the exception is not easily made out. In the recent 2014 case of Tan Yan Ling Kyna v Chan Wei Zhong Terence, Choo Han Teck J held that even if one party’s alleged account of his or her spouse’s abusive behavior were to be accepted, there still might not be sufficient cause to make out a case of “exceptional hardship”. This is because there are alternative remedies and relief in cases of abuse such as applications for a personal protection order, or for the aggrieved party to leave the other party (i.e. to live separately).
As mentioned above, Choo Han Teck J further added that the 3-year moratorium is intended to hold out the hope of reconciliation and that even in extreme cases of abuse, the abuser may see the error of his or her ways and seek reconciliation.
Other considerations before the court allows your application
Lastly, if you are an expat seeking a divorce in Singapore and you and your spouse have children, under section 94 of the Singapore Women’s Charter, in determining any such application, the court would also have regard to the interest of the child or children to your marriage and consider whether there is a reasonable probability of reconciliation between you and your spouse before the expiration of 3 years.
The court may also refer the differences between you and your spouse to a Conciliation Officer so that reconciliation between you and your spouse might be affected.
At Gloria James-Civetta & Co, we offer a consultation with one of our LAWYERS, who will explain the divorce process and assess whether as an expat, you meet the requirements to file for divorce in Singapore.