Specialist Divorce & Family Lawyer


You do not agree fully with the grounds of decision given by the Family Court hearing/trial judge and you believed you could get better outcome or completely different result.

When a notice of appeal is filed, the High Court (Family Division) will review the case. An appeal is not a re-litigation of the contested issues. As a general rule is that the judges of the higher courts would not interfere in the decision of the lower court. If an appeal is granted, the lower court’s decision may be reversed in whole or in part. If an appeal is denied, the lower court’s decision stands.

It is essential to discuss with your Family lawyer experienced in handling family litigation. He/she will assess your case whether to appeal against a judgment. If the odds are in favour of affirming the judgment, there is a good chance of winning and getting paid costs by the other side. One may never know the exact chance of winning a case no matter how experienced a lawyer may be. For instance, no one would have expected that an ex-wife could overturn a High Court’s decision and be awarded half of lottery winnings after appeal court ruled that lottery wins are matrimonial assets.

Who appeals?

Losing party– When the losing party appeal their case to the High Court, the winning party will be brought into the appeal proceedings as a Respondent. Although the winning party is again brought into the appeal proceedings, the winning party will incur legal costs to ‘defend’ the losing party’s appeal. Even if the winning party wins in the appeal, his/her legal costs would usually be higher than the costs that the losing party would be ordered to pay to him/her. But if the winning party now loses the appeal, he/she may be ordered to pay costs to the original losing party.

Winning party– The winning party may also wish to appeal their case to the High Court for better results at the same time that the losing party is appealing. In this scenario where both parties appeal, it is referred to as “cross appeal”.

Can I appeal if I am the winner?

If the winning party wishes to appeal for even better results against parts or whole of the decision, he/she is allowed to do so. The only consequences are waste of time and costs if the appeal is dismissed or changes slightly. You are also risking having to pay the other party legal costs if the appeal is dismissed or you get marginally better results.

Process of Appeal

Step 1- Commencement

If you wish to appeal: –

  1. a Notice of Appeal in the High Court Family Division is to be filed and served within fourteen (14) days of the order (*different prescribed timeline for different types of case). It may be fatal to a case if the Notice of Appeal is not filed within the deadline, unless special circumstances that caused the delay can be proven to the satisfaction of the court
  2. provide security for costs in the sum of $3,000.00 as a form of security deposit for the other party. This cost acts as a protection for the other party’s to ensure that he/she gets paid in the event he wins in the appeal. The security for costs will be refunded to the Appellant if no adverse costs Orders are made against the Appellant.

Step 2- Collection of Notes of Proceedings. The usual timeline for the judge to prepare their Notes of Proceedings and Grounds of Evidence is at least three (3) months from the date of the filing of the Notice of Appeal. Sometimes, you may receive it earlier than three (3) months.

Step 3- Drafting and filing of Appeal documents: –

  1. Appellant’s Case / Respondent’s Case
  2. Submissions
  3. Record of Appeal
  4. Bundle of Authorities
  5. Bundle of Pleadings

Step 4- Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) will be convened for the Court to monitor the filing of the relevant appeal documents. If any party intends to file interlocutory applications, the Court will give directions accordingly.

A hearing date for the appeal will be fixed once the necessary documents are filed to be conducted at the Supreme Court located at 1 Supreme Court Lane, Singapore 178879.

How long does an appeal usually take?

Appeals usually take six (6) to twelve (12) months. If any party intends to file interlocutory applications, for instance, to adduce further evidence into the appeal since the time of the original court order. The whole process will be significantly longer due to the appeal court having to hear the extra application.

Adduce further evidence?

As in all cases, there must be a finality to the filing of documents and evidence. New materials cannot be filed into the courts non-stop. However, if new facts arise or new evidence are found or created during the time of preparing for appeal which is pertinent to the case, your lawyer may have to take out a Summons to adduce further evidence into the appeal case. If such summons is not done, the appeal judge will have no opportunity to assess the evidence which does not come before him/her. As a general rule, the appeal will not allow the evidence to be admitted at a late stage in the proceedings unless it can be proven that the non-admission of such evidence would cause great injustice or greatly prejudice the case of the person who seeks to admit the evidence.

Costs of an Appeal

An average appeal can cost $20,000 to $50,000. Short, single-issue appeals may be lower. Complex appeals, including those involving voluminous records, can be higher as would be an appeal that finds its way to the Supreme Court.

Before taking on an appeal proceeding, it is important to discuss with your lawyers on the odds of winning an appeal. You may need a ‘second opinion’ if you think your previous lawyer has not done a good job for you. For respondents whom have received the Notice of Appeal from their spouses, you may engage an experienced family litigation lawyer to defend the appeal for you to preserve the original terms for you. As a respondent who chose not to file an appeal, you may be reversed into a loser in the appeal. At Yeolaw, our expert family litigation lawyers have conducted uncountable appeals at a fixed and capped rate at around S$10,000.


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