The Singapore Courts give regard to an international divorce. Prior to amendments to the Women’s Charter in 2011, Singapore courts had no authority to deal with post-divorce matters related to a foreign decree. Where a foreign order concerned maintenance, that maintenance order could be enforced in Singapore though a Singapore divorce lawyer by registering under the Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act (“MO(FE)A”).
However, changes to the Women’s Charter via the introduction of Chapter 4A now allows for a party to a foreign order to seek ancillary relief in Singapore courts. A financial relief order in a foreign jurisdiction does not preclude an application to the Singapore Courts. Chapter 4A, which is modelled around the approach taken by the UK, equips the court with the power to deal with post-divorce issues arising from a foreign divorce.
It should be noted that although the courts now have the power to grant a financial relief order or re-consider an existing order granted elsewhere, the Singapore courts are mindful of not making a decision in haste. Consideration is given to showing unity towards orders that are made by competent foreign jurisdiction. As such, the threshold to be satisfied is rather high. Power by the Singapore courts may only be exercised where no relief was made by the courts or the relief granted in a foreign jurisdiction was inadequate or not a fair one.
There are three requirements which need to be established by an applicant seeking relief in Singapore:
- Parties must satisfy the jurisdictional basis (s.121C)
- Leave of the court is required and can only be granted where there is “substantial ground” for the application (s.121D)
- Singapore must be the appropriate forum to grant financial relief (s.121F)
If an applicant manages to establish the 3 necessary requirements, the courts may make an order as if the decree nullity or judicial separation was obtained in Singapore.