Forum Shopping: Can Non-Singaporeans file for a Divorce in Singapore?

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Foreigners who seek to apply for divorce in Singapore have to first overcome the issue of conflict of laws, before Singapore courts are willing to hear the case.

The issue of whether the marriage laws of the home country of the foreign couple should apply, or whether the marriage laws of Singapore should apply, is the conflict of laws.

In such a situation, the guiding principle is forum non conveniens, where it has to be determined which country is the more appropriate forum to hear the dispute. Under this principle, at least one of the parties has to have a sufficient connection to Singapore.

Does the foreign couple have sufficient connection to Singapore?

There are two ways a foreigner may prove that he/she has sufficient connection to Singapore.

First, through proving that your domicile is in Singapore at the time of the commencement of the divorce proceedings in Singapore, whether by origin, dependence or choice. Second, through proving that you are a habitual resident in Singapore for a period of 3 years immediately preceding the commencement of the proceedings.

There are two ongoing procedures, one in Singapore and one in another country. What happens now?

When proceedings have begun in a court (any jurisdiction), a court will ordinarily refuse to stay the proceedings here unless it can be shown clearly and distinctly that there is a more appropriate forum elsewhere. Even so, the other party who wishes to continue proceedings in that country, can still show that he/she would be deprived of substantial justice if the proceedings were stayed.

If you need legal advice before proceeding to divorce, you should engage a family law specialist.

At GJC Law, we have highly experienced matrimonial lawyers who deal with a wide range of expat divorce matters. Should you wish to schedule a free initial consultation with Ms James, please contact GJC Law at 6337 0469 or email her directly at gloria@gjclaw.com.sg