Specialist Divorce & Family Lawyer

Divorce Within 3 Years of Marriage


Divorce can only happen three (3) years after the date of the registration of marriage based on irretrievable break down of marriage. That means you can consider commence a divorce proceeding upon your third (3rd) marriage anniversary. This is to uphold the sanctity of marriage in a society to prevent Parties from entering and departing from the marriage contract base on impulse. Three (3) years have been deemed as the adequate period of time for newlyweds to “try out” their marriages.

Are you already planning to file for divorce but been married for less than three (3) years? The Family Justice Courts of Singapore will consider your application to divorce your spouse earlier than three (3) years if you satisfy one of the following: –

Suffered Exceptional Hardship or Depravity

It is common that every family will have its own challenge, but not all hardship will be considered as “exceptional”. Only if an applicant who wants out of the marriage is able to prove that he/she has suffered exceptional hardship and/or depravity, would he/she then be granted permission from the court to proceed with divorce before the marriage reached the third (3rd) anniversary.

Definition “exceptional hardship is found when the problem in the marriage is out of the ordinary and more than what an ordinary person should reasonably be asked to bear.”

The judge hearing the case will factor all pros and cons should the marriage be allowed to continue until the 3rd anniversary.

Some real-life instances where the applicant has been granted permission to divorce before the marriage reached the 3rd anniversary:

  • Husband involved in adulterous behaviour with more than 10 women since the beginning of the marriage
  • Wife developed cancer due to stress caused by the marriage and also Husband’s affair
  • Husband suffered from major clinical depression which affected his work and life when the Wife committed adultery at home where adulterer refused to move out [Foo Teck Guan v Chan Yoke Han]
  • Abusive speech and conduct against spouse which directly caused spouse to suffer mental health and physiological problems
  • Physical violence with broken ribs and other fractures sustained at different times of the marriage
  • No semblance of marriage where one spouse disappeared right from the start of the marriage [Ng Kee Shee v Fu Gaofei, where the wife returned to China within months of the marriage and vowed not to return]
  • Other peculiar circumstances which may not have been explored by the Singapore Family Justice Courts which may qualify as exceptional hardship. You may consult an experienced Family lawyer to explore other options based on your circumstances.

Process of Obtaining a Divorce in Singapore within three (3) years

(A) Originating Summons to Divorce within three (3) Years of Marriage

    1. The Plaintiff file an application to Singapore Court to prove exceptional hardship or depravity
    2. The Defendant will have a right of reply to the application, if no objections, the matter will be sent to the judge for hearing
    3. The Judge will determine whether the Plaintiff has suffered exceptional hardship, or that the defendant has engaged in exceptional depravity based on the affidavit and evidence before the Judge. If the judge is satisfied that there is exceptional hardship or depravity suffered by the Plaintiff, the Order of Court to allow the Marriage to commence divorce within three (3) years would be granted
    4. If the Judge is not satisfied that the Plaintiff had fulfilled the threshold, the case will be dismissed and parties will wait for three (3) years of marriage to commence divorce proceedings.

(B) Originating Summons to Divorce within three (3) Years of Marriage

    1. Upon the grant of Court Order to Divorce, the divorce process will have to be filed to dissolve the legal relationship between a man and a woman due to the irretrievable break down of the marriage based on one of the following reasons: –
      1. Unreasonable behaviour
      2. Adultery
      3. Three (3) years’ separation with consent (unlikely this reason)
      4. Four (4) years’ separation (unlikely this reason)
      5. 2 years’ desertion (unlikely this reason)
    2. Ancillary Matters arising out of a marriage– The issues of custody, care and control, access and maintenance of Child(ren) of the marriage; division of matrimonial assets and HDB or private properties, spousal maintenance, costs etc must have final conclusion. To record the concluded terms reached by Parties’ settlement by way of private negotiation or court mediation, a draft consent order or draft interim judgment; if terms concluded by judge’s decision after hearing the case at the Ancillary Matters Hearing, an Ancillary Matters Order or an Order of Court will be issued
    3. Grant of Interim Judgement and subsequently the grant Final Judgement for Divorce (Certificate for Divorce)

Refer to the article on Divorce

Other Ways to Dissolve the Marriage if there is no “Exceptional Hardship or Depravity”

(A) Apply to Annul the Marriage

The grounds to annul a marriage are: –

  1. That the marriage has not been consummated owing to the incapacity of either party. In such situation, a medical report is required.
  2. That the marriage has not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal of the other party to consummate it. For instance, a wife refuses to have sexual intercourse with her husband.
  3. That either party did not validly consent to it, whether in consequence of duress, mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise;
  4. That at the time of the marriage either party though capable of giving a valid consent was suffering from a mental disorder;
  5. That at the time of the marriage the Defendant was suffering from venereal disease in a communicable form;
  6. That at the time of the marriage the Defendant was pregnant by some person other than the Plaintiff.

The above may look straightforward but the Courts require far more matters to be established in order to be satisfied to grant an Order for Nullity. It is a complex area of law and the judge may not buy your story to grant you an Order for Nullity.

If you need legal advice in Annulment or Nullity, Yeo & Associates LLC Family Lawyers can help. Our lawyers are very knowledgeable in this area and will go into great detail before you can consider whether your marriage is voidable.

Finally, if all is not possible or for cost-savings measures, Parties may consider waiting out for three (3) years to lapse before filing for a divorce. Meantime, Parties may consider drafting a Deed of Separation and work out the settlement terms for ancillary matters, such as custody, care and control of the Children, division of the matrimonial assets, and maintenance for the Children and Wife etc. DOS is aimed to prevent contested litigation in the divorce proceedings.

Our expert Family Lawyer at Yeo & Associates LLC, will be able to advise you on the procedures and advise you on the chances to obtaining a divorce within 3 years of marriage. Call us on 62203400 to fix an appointment to discuss further.


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