The Court must be satisfied that there must be a material change in circumstances according to section 128 of the Women’s Charter. For example, you or your ex-spouse may have re-married, you may have better living arrangements since the conclusion of the divorce proceedings or you may have switched employment which allows you greater flexibility in caring for your child(ren).
If you feel that you have a case, you most probably have the merits to vary the original court order to better fit the current condition. Experienced Family lawyers are here to assess the merits of your case to see whether there are sufficient factors to satisfy the legal requirements for you to apply for a variation of the original Court Order.
A variation of a Court Order necessitates a formal application to be made into Court – It is not meant to be used as a backdoor to challenge or get around the original Court Order, unless circumstances have shown that it is not in the best interests of your child(ren) to have care and control remain with your ex-spouse.
Even if the Court is satisfied that there is a material change in circumstances that could necessitate a variation of the original Court Order, the Court’s paramount consideration will be the welfare of the child(ren) – Is it in the best interests of the child(ren) for care and control to remain with your ex-spouse, or have care and control of your child(ren) reversed to you? Rather than having to vary the order on care and control, could your/the child(ren)’s grievances be allayed by revising the access orders?
For the best interests of your child, call 62203400 and speak to one of our experienced Family Lawyers to discuss your circumstances and find out how we can help.
In Singapore, divorces are classified as being either contested or uncontested.
Many divorcing clients request their lawyers to “go for uncontested divorce”. But, is this really a matter of choice?
This article seeks to demystify public misconception on what is meant by “uncontested divorce” by way of explaining the different mechanics behind the process of an uncontested divorce.
Uncontested divorces occur when parties are able to come to an full agreement on one of the reasons for the divorce and how the statement of particulars i.e. the “story” of the incidents that happened during the marriage to form the reason for the divorce:
Often than not, one spouse thinks that the other spouse had depicted one-sided complaint against the other spouse, some simply thinks that the story for the divorce is a complete lie, which acts as a push factor for the other spouse to file his defence and counterclaim.
To attain a truly uncontested divorce as early in the process as possible, most couples require the help of a professional divorce lawyer who can see both side of the pictures and recommend the most suitable way of writing a story to end the marriage, and at the same time, ensure sufficient particulars in the story for the judge in the Family Justice Courts to grant a divorce.
Along with the story for the breakdown of the marriage leading to a divorce, couples who insisted on going for uncontested divorce should also completely agree to all the ancillary terms which include division of assets, exact amount of child maintenance and spousal maintenance, and all other little details. As long as one issue (be it big or small), turns out to be a point for further discussion or a point of dispute, the whole divorce proceedings is classified as Contested Divorce Proceedings.
Contested Divorce Proceedings can also become uncontested along the way after parties decide to agree on the disputed terms halfway. However, this could only be achieved with negotiations, civil discussions, and exchanges of ideas of how to resolve the differences. It would greatly help and save time and tons of legal fees if a Specialist Divorce Lawyer could be engaged to assist the parties in negotiation and fair assessment of the dispute.
When 100% of the divorce and ancillary matters are resolved and agreed upon, your Family Lawyer will draft the terms in a professional and workable manner which would encapsulate all of the principles and nuances of parties’ agreement, along with compatibility with current legislations and laws relating to CPF and HDB etc.
Many law firms advertise for very low fees for the term uncontested divorce (ranging from $800-$1500) which includes only drafting of court documents and filing of documents to the courts without helping parties to come to a settlement or helping them understand what the legal rights are and the implication that they might face in the future with the kind of agreement both laymen attained together. The cheap divorce lawyers for uncontested divorce rely on the parties themselves to come to a full agreement.
In Yeolaw, we have the starting price of S$1200-$2200 for Uncontested Divorce Package to commence the divorce proceedings. What sets Yeolaw Family Lawyers’ Uncontested Divorce Package is that it includes not just drafting of court documents and filing of documents to the courts. The full list of services is as follows: –
Effective negotiation and communication with both parties is essential to get a fair settlement terms as early as possible.
Before your divorce turns contested, please contact Yeolaw Singapore Divorce Lawyers at 62203400 to know your options.
Most divorces in Singapore involve children. From 2008 to 2018, 52-56% of all divorces under the Women’s Charter (Cap 353) involved at least one child below the age of 21.
Divorce is thus a life-changing event not just for spouses, but also for their children. Indeed, even if the divorce is uncontested and relations between both spouses do not seem acrimonious, the exposure of children to inter-parental conflict and separation through divorce can have profound, long-term psychological effects on children.
Children of divorce tend to experience the following:
More worryingly, mental health experts have observed increasing numbers of children in Singapore suffering from depression and other mental health issues, with parental divorce often cropping up as a major factor.
That being said, all children are different. Among other things, the child’s age is a key factor affecting how he/she responds to and makes sense of divorce.
Although babies cannot understand the conflict between their parents, they can perceive tension and changes in their parents’ behaviour, eg if the parents engage in loud quarrels or physical violence. In the long term, the child can exhibit anxiety, neediness and irritability. At the most extreme, he/she may even suffer developmental delay.
Compared with babies, toddlers have a heightened perception of tension and behavioural changes in their parents. The toddler may still be unable to articulate their thoughts or feelings. However, with greater self-awareness at this age, he/she may regress and become more reliant on the custodial parent. He/she may cry more and seek more attention. He/she may even revert to behaviours that he/she has outgrown, eg thumb-sucking and bedwetting. The toddler may resist being left alone and going to sleep at night, and suffer from nightmares.
Nursery/kindergarten-going children will be able understand that their parents are in conflict and are living separately. However, this is difficult for the child to accept. He/she may feel responsible for his/her parents’ divorce, and blame himself/herself for it. Therefore, like a toddler, he/she may exhibit regressive behaviour in order to gain more parental concern and draw both parents back together to care for him/her.
Together with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (“MSF”) and the Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (“DSSAs”), the Courts have implemented various programmes to help divorcing spouses and their children cope with the social and psychological impact of divorce. This is in line with the Courts’ shift towards a child-centric approach in divorce matters.
The following is a summary of the key programmes aimed at supporting divorcing parents and their children through the divorce process:
Mandatory Parenting Programme (“MPP”)- Even before commencing divorce, spouses with children below the age of 21 must undergo the MPP. This is a 2-hour counselling session by DSSA counsellors which seeks to help parents understand and work out post-divorce living arrangements, issues of child custody and access, as well as co-parenting.
Compulsory mediation and counselling under the Family Dispute Resolution (“FDR”) Division of the FJC- Divorcing spouses with at least 1 child below the age of 21 are now required by law to undergo mediation and counselling, as part of the divorce proceedings. As divorcing spouses invariably disagree about future living, caregiving and financial matters, children often experience uncertainty and anxiety. FDR mediation and counselling is thus aimed at keeping spouses focused on the welfare of the child in resolving their disagreements. The steps in the FDR mediation and counselling process are as follows:
Longer-term support. Through FDR mediation and counselling, the CFS can, with the divorcing spouses’ consent, refer them and/or their children to the DSSAs or Family Service Centres (“FSCs”). Programmes provided by the DSSAs are as follows:
For advice on these issues speak to one of the fully qualified family lawyers at Yeo & Associates LLC at 62203400.
A woman feels threatened or harassed by her husband. She even suffered physical violence for many years, with broken ribs or bruises from the punches. She kept silent because she wished to keep the family intact for the children or she simply does not wish to agitate the husband. This is classic victim of family violence.
Under Section 64 of the Women’s Charter, any of the following acts will amount to “Family Violence”:
However, Family Justice Courts sees a rise in applications for personal protection either by a husband or a wife against each other after one heated argument, or after a tussle.
Most likely than not, when a spouse brings the police into a family fight or entered the court room to seek an order against the other, the marriage is doom to go towards the path of divorce.
When divorce proceedings start, one may think that scaring the other spouse into agreement to all the terms relating to monies, houses, and children would be reached if they use PPO’s route.
For example, a mother who wishes to have the custody, care and control of the children may stage a fight and appeared like a victim. She would “escape” from the family home the next day bringing the children along with her. Not long, she would be at the Family Justice Courts’ personal protection unit applying for a PPO order against the father. The Court would issue an expedited order (EO), which is a temporary order to restrain the husband not to use violence against the wife pending the finality of the application. PPO application costs a nominal S$1 to apply.
What is detrimental to the father in the said scenario would be the huge time lapse between the start of the PPO application and the final order granting or rejecting of the PPO application of the mother, ranging from 6-24 months. During this period, the father may be too afraid to access to the children; or that the mother would use the EO and pending PPO order against him to prevent him from approaching her.
At the same time, the mother could apply for Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO) to exclude the father from entering into the family home or that he be retrained to a part of the house.
The mother’s PPO application can be used as a tool to separate a child from his father. When the father approaches the mother, the mother simply calls the police and claimed that she has been harassed. The father risks being sent into police custody.
During this long period of wait for the ultimate judgment from the PPO court, the impressionable child might have got used to a life without his father, or the mother would impressed upon the child that the father “abandoned” them or have committed heinous crimes against them. Thus, even if the father proves his innocence by the end of the trial, harm would have been caused to the child.
Who is the winner in this sage?
– father won Olympic gold victory at the PPO court having proved his innocence;
– mother lost in the trial and have to pay legal costs to the father;
– child lost the love of the father, or even lose respect for both father and mother.
The above is all at the cost of the child’s wellbeing.
The Family Justice Courts, like other adversarial court system has to conduct due process to every case that comes before it. However, to prove falsehoods and false narratives of the supposed family violence victims, it takes human resources, time and money.
If a person is in such danger zone of being falsely accused as a family violence perpetrator, it is prudent, not just wise to consult an expert personal protection family lawyer’s advice as soon as practicable. Whoever strikes first using PPO as a tactic may indeed have certain upper hand, unless you are someone who retaliates and has the resources and funds to retaliate.
If you wish to apply for Personal Protection Order of you have received a Summon from PPO court to appear in court to answer to the charges, please call Yeolaw family lawyers on 62203400 to arrange for an immediate discussion. With years of experience acting for either side of the PPO and DEO application, we will be apt to advice you to protect your legal rights.
It is not as simple as “sale of flat” or “transfer flat from husband to wife”. Period.
To have a workable and useful Court Order, you need an experienced family lawyers well-versed in current HDB housing laws, banking rules and rules relating to conveyancing and CPF.
A poorly drafted court order with small but pertinent details missing renders the whole court order useless. It also brings about many problems for HDB officers, CPF Board officers and bankers who assess your mortgage loan.
You will have to spend legal fees again to vary the court order to make it right. This will lead to wasting valuable time and monies and frustration for parties.
Almost every family owns at least one HDB flat in Singapore. When divorce happens, parties will have to split the HDB flat, be it by way of sale or by way of spousal transfer.
Parties will have to consider a list of issues regarding the disposal of the matrimonial home:-
HDB rules state that for the welfare of a young child in a divorce family, one parent who has the child’s care and control (not just custody) will be able to retain the flat even if all the eligibility is not satisfied. It means that as long as one parent is able to afford to take over the full outstanding mortgage loan of the flat, even if he/she has not reached the age of thirty-five (35) or that the flat has not been occupied for a minimum five (5) years, that parent is eligible to take over the flat.
If parties agree in the divorce settlement that the outgoing spouse shall take only partial or no refunds of the CPF monies used to purchase the flat, the outgoing spouse will not be entitled to receive any further refund to his/her CPF Account even if the ex-spouse subsequently disposes of the flat. However, the ex-spouse would be required to refund his/her and the outgoing party’s portion of the CPF monies withdrawn including interest to the ex-spouse’s CPF Account.
You may seek legal advice from your family lawyer at 62203400 whether you may receive a portion of the sale proceeds in the event that the spouse who retained the flat at the time of divorce sells the flat in the future.
It is not automatic that the ex-spouse gets to keep the HDB flat just because the Order of Court dictates so. If any of the conditions cannot be fulfilled, the transfer cannot take place. For instance, if the person who wishes to retain the flat cannot even get HDB loan or private bank loans, then the reality says that this person cannot buy over the flat. The most common oversight is that the party who wishes to retain the flat is unable to take over the outstanding housing loan and/or pay cash consideration to the outgoing party. Lawyer should advise the party on the financial obligations towards the flat upon the transfer to ensure that the terms in the Order of Court is realistic and also cater to unforeseen circumstances where parties can rely on alternative clauses if they were already in the Order of Court in the first place.
Thus, it is important that you seek legal advice on how you could plan to retain the flat as early in the divorce proceedings as possible.
If the Order of Court does not provide an alternative in the event that transfer of flat ownership cannot take place for whatsoever reasons, parties will have to go back to their divorce lawyer to apply for a summons for variation of order to include an order to either transfer the property to the other eligible party or to dispose of the flat. For example, if parties have completed the 5-year MOP, then they may sell the HDB flat on the open market. However, if the MOP has not been met, parties have to return the HDB flat at the prevailing compensation price, subject to HDB’s approval.
Upon the sale of the flat in the open market, the sale proceeds will be first used to pay off any outstanding housing loan followed by refund of parties’ CPF monies withdrawn together with accrued interest to their CPF Account(s). However, if the selling price (at market value) is insufficient for parties to make the CPF refund, parties need not meet the shortfall with cash. The remaining balance, if any, will be divided between parties in a manner pursuant to the Order of Court. The percentage that each party is entitled to is not by default 50%/50%. This is a misconception. The percentage is either obtained by parties’ agreement or the judge determined the percentage based on parties’ respective direct and indirect contribution to the family and flat.
An issue arises when the Order of Court purports to divide the sale proceeds between parties before refund is made to their CPF Account(s) which is in contrary to CPF Board’s regulations. If a party’s share of the sale proceeds is insufficient to refund to his/her CPF Account, he/she will have to top up the shortfall with cash failing which the CPF charge on the flat cannot be discharged and the sale transaction cannot be completed. To overcome this, parties can opt to refund the CPF monies first before dividing the sale proceeds and/or go back to their divorce lawyer to apply for a summons for variation of order to ensure that parties get their fair share of the proceeds, for example including a clause to have CPF Board transfer CPF monies to the other party after the sale has been completed.
Divorce lawyers should be conscious that the terms in the Order of Court might give rise to unintended consequences if insufficient attention is paid while drafting them and should take the time to examine the terms to see if it raises any of the issues identified in this article which might just save a whole lot of costs and inconvenience moving forward.
To minimize your costs, time and distress, it is essential to consult a professional divorce lawyers well-versed in drafting financial settlement terms. Call 62203400 or fill up the Advice Request form for assistance.
Deciding to go through a divorce does not always mean that you will have to “fight” in court against your spouse. In recent years, it is reported that almost seven out of ten divorce cases are settled during mediation without the need for contested hearings.
Pursuant to section 50(3A) of the Women’s Charter, mediation is compulsory for parties who have at least one child who is below 21 years old. They will have to attend mediation and counselling, as ordered by the court after they have filed their relevant divorce papers.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process where a neutral third party (either a Judge-Mediator or an Accredited Mediator) will assist the divorcing parties to work through their issues (grounds for divorce and/or ancillary matters) as amicably as possible. A mediator will help parties to focus on the issues being disputed, create an effective and productive platform for parties to communicate, and to help them (along with their lawyers if they are legally represented) to explore mutually acceptable options and solutions.
The benefits of attending a mediation cannot be overstated. Contested trials and hearings can become protracted and time-consuming. Parties will have to continue paying legal fees and costs to prepare and file their further pleadings, affidavits and the other relevant documents for hearing(s). The process and journey to a contested hearing can also be mentally draining and emotionally taxing on them, and their children.
Furthermore, parties generally have a greater control over the outcome of the mediation, as compared to contested hearings. In our experience, consent orders (orders which are recorded during mediation) are generally more likely to be complied by parties than litigated orders. Accordingly, parties do not have to be further embroiled in subsequent court proceedings such as variation of court orders and/or enforcement proceedings.
It is important for parties to have experienced family lawyers to guide them during the preparation for their mediation sessions, and to help advance their positions during the mediation. The lawyers will also assist parties to explain to them the current standings on the law related to their issues in dispute, and to explore long-lasting and more sustainable solutions that will be fair and equitable for all parties involved.
There are anecdotal cases where parties shared that mediation have not assisted them to achieve more lasting solutions to their disputes. In such cases, our view is that depending on the facts of the case, perhaps it is not so much that the mediation mechanism is not useful or incapable of creating more lasting orders for parties. Rather, it is how the users (divorcing parties) and the stakeholders (mediators, lawyers, counsellors etc) come together to properly utilise the platform to encourage a meaningful communication between parties, and to flesh out the relevant and pertinent information related to the dispute.
Furthermore, some parties may settle for the sake of settling because they do not wish to continue the acrimony between parties and they want to move on from this ordeal as soon as possible. While their intentions are not to be criticised, it is important for parties to also ensure that they have the “correct” attitude when they come to the bargaining table. This means that they should work closely with their lawyers to mediate in good faith. Coming to mediation sessions with an open mind and with a willingness to allow some leeway and compromise does go a long way in making sure that your mediation sessions will be fruitful and productive.
Needless to say, we also recognise the fact that there are those cases where mediation does not help for a variety of reasons, for example, if both parties simply do not wish to budge from their original positions, or if one party does not care to participate in the mediation with an open mind to mediate. At times, some lawyers may also establish that prolonging the mediation process may not be beneficial to their clients and they might be able to better protect their clients’ interests during a hearing.
Whatever it may be, it is most certainly important for clients to speak to their lawyers to explore their matters in-depth and to be availed of the feasibility of their options.
For assistance on Child Focus Resolution Centre (CFRC Mediation) and other Family Law matters, please contact Singapore Divorce Law firm Yeolaw at 62203400 or send Advice Request Form for your expert Divorce Lawyers advice.
An Interim Custody, Care and Control (ICCC) order is the temporary order for care arrangements for the Children of a marriage before a final divorce order is granted.
The marriage may be failing but couple has not started the divorce proceedings.
Or, the divorce proceedings have just start, depending on Parties’ settlement, or whether there is mediation or even trial, the usual time line from start to end may sometimes take months, even years to completely conclude. Without this Order, one parent may be totally excluded from having access to the children.
You can apply for an ICCC Order at any time during the marriage, the separation or the Court proceedings for a divorce to ensure that your rights to your Child and his welfare are protected. Such situations include but not limited to:-
A temporary order to ensure that the child(ren)’s rights to access to their parents is thus essential.
The primary guiding principle for ICCC is the welfare of the Child. Generally, the “welfare of the Child” refers to the overall welfare of the Child, not simply providing monetary or physical comforts.
Welfare includes all aspects of his upbringing including like:
Rights to have access to both parents etc.
An ICCC Order may become very useful for the ousted parent to continue his role as a parent in the child’s life and prevent any permanence of his/her absence. This also prevents your spouse from alleging that you have no interests in contacting the children and that you are an irresponsible parent.
If you are the parent who wishes to keep the children with you during the breakdown of the marriage or during the divorce proceedings, you may wish to apply for an ICCC order to prevent your spouse from disrupting your child’s life by “snatching” the child away. If you are the parent who has the Child in your care, you have a very strong argument for continuing the status quo in the divorce as the Courts tends to prefer stability and continuity for the Child.
With an order in hand, your spouse may not be able to “snatch” the child away. When you call for police’s help, the police may rely on the Order for ICCC to see who the children should follow.
Nevertheless, there may be exceptional cases where an ICCC Order may not be immediately effective in compelling the other parent to obey, for instance when the other Party continues to ignore the Order. It may then be necessary for you to take stronger and more punitive actions against your spouse, such as by applying for contempt of Court for the defaulting party’s refusal to comply with the Court Order, which attracts fine or jail term for that spouse.
If you are concerned about the care of your children, do take advice before making any final decisions. We offer a free initial chat with a lawyer so that you can get all the facts about the legal issues.
What happens to your Built-To-Order (“BTO”) Flat in an event of a divorce before the Minimum Occupation Period (“MOP”)?
Firstly, it is useful to calculate the MOP, which is calculated 5 years from the date the keys to the Flat are collected. If the MOP is not reached in the event of an intended divorce, the common perception is that the BTO Flat is to be surrendered to HDB. However, there are a few options that are available, including retaining the Flat.
While some parties prefer to wait out the 5-year MOP as that the option to sell the flat is available to them, some parties may be placed in a situation where an early closure to their divorce is preferred and waiting for the 5-year to pass is not ideal. If waiting out for the 5-year MOP to pass is an available option, entering into a Deed of Separation would be ideal so that the obligations between parties during the period of separation would be documented.
A party may elect to transfer his or her share in the Flat if the other party is eligible to retain the Flat under the Single Singapore Citizen (“SSC”) Scheme before the 5-year MOP is fulfilled. The party retaining the Flat would also need to be eligible for loan to retain the flat solely. However, meeting HDB eligibility rules and approval for loans are subjected to considerations such as the existing mortgage loan, the Central Provident Fund (“CPF”) refunds, and so on.
If the above 2 options are not available, parties may attempt to make an appeal to the HDB to sell the Flat in the open market before the 5-year MOP. Each appeal application is considered on a case-by-case basis. In the event that the appeal to HDB is successful, the Flat can be sold in the open market.
Before the Flat is sold, parties should consider and agree on a few factors:
The above list is non-exhaustive.
Finally, if neither of the above options are available, parties are to surrender the Flat to HDB. BTO Flats surrendered to HDB are normally valued below the purchase price and would usually result in a loss. Nonetheless, parties should consider the proportions which the losses or profits, if any, is to be apportioned.
An experienced family lawyer will know how to advise you to minimize losses to your newly acquired asset. In many cases, our lawyers have the expertise to help you keep the flat, or keep the damages to the lowest. Consult a professional family lawyer at Yeo & Associate LLC on 62203400.
The current economic situation in Singapore may be worrying for some divorcing couples, especially those facing financial uncertainties like retrenchment or business failures. Some divorcing couples may wish to relook into the settlement agreement reached just about a few months ago before government’s announcement of “circuit breaker” lockdown.
Some fathers may not be able to afford the agreed amount for child maintenance; or that they may reconsider whether to put the matrimonial flat up for sale in the gloomy open market.
Many would move on to complete the divorce when the relationship is beyond salvage. However, the Family Justice Courts of Singapore issues the final certificate for divorce (Divorce Certificate) only when the ancillary matters are fully settled.
In such condition, your expert Singapore Divorce Lawyer may discuss the following with you:-
It is inevitable that the operation of any organisation including the Courts is affected during this pandemic. The type of cases deemed as “essential” and “urgent” may not be apparent, as of now. Your case is likely delayed as opposed to the normal timelines.
Discuss your options with a firm of specialist divorce lawyers, although working from home at the moment, continues to be ready to go through your issues with you, assist you with the preparation of the documents and information, strategize your case etc.
Call Yeolaw Family Lawyers at 62203400 for a non-obligatory discussion on procedures and costs.
Custody and care and control of child(ren) play a large part in divorces – What parties have agreed to, or what the Court may have ruled affects not only the parties involved in the divorce, but also their child(ren), as everybody adjusts their respective lifestyles and living arrangements to comply with the Court Order. What happens if your ex-spouse was awarded care and control of the child(ren), but you encounter situation(s) where you notice that your child(ren)’s day-to-day care is neglected, or if your child(ren) share(s) with you that she/he prefers to live with you?
There are three (3) issues which will be determined in Custody Order: –
Each case turns on its own facts. The Court will consider:
The Court will hear both parties’ position and sometimes even from the child if that child is of certain degree of maturity and intelligence before making an order based on the welfare and best interests of the child.
The order on care and control may be reversed if the Court is satisfied that it is in the welfare and best interests of the child to do so.
The judges at the Family Justice Courts have the tedious job to make sure that both parents are treated equally and fairly, regardless of gender, and financial ability. There has been a trend since 2015 for ‘shared care and control” order, aside from the usual ‘sole care and control’ order.
This approach attempts to recognise modern families with both parents having equal responsibility in caring for the child while they are at work. When it is deemed workable in some families where the children are placed in whole day childcare centre, both parents may have the chance to live with the children to care for them on an alternative basis, as long as the schedule does not adversely affect the child’s life. There are other factors that the judge may consider granting ‘shared care and control” order.
If you are concerned about the care of your children, do seek professional legal advice to work out your options for yourself and your children. At Yeo & Associate LLC, we offer a sound and professional advice to your situations that goes a long way. Call us at 62203400 for an appointment.