Life Of An Expat In Singapore – How Difficult Is It To Obtain A Divorce?

For foreigners living in Singapore, getting used to the heat here and trying to understand “Singlish” may be hard. However, obtaining a divorce in Singapore poses many challenges as well.

The Singapore courts will only grant a divorce where at least one party to the marriage has a sufficiently strong connection with Singapore. There are two ways to prove this: (1) that at least one of the parties is “domiciled” in Singapore; or (2) at least one of the parties has been habitually resident in Singapore for at least 3 years immediately before applying to court for the divorce.

“Domiciled” in Singapore

“Domiciled” generally refers to the place where a person has his permanent home. Hence, staying in a country for a time for a particular purpose such as to study or work for a limited time does not mean that the person’s domicile has altered to that country.

Singapore citizens are generally presumed to be domiciled in Singapore, but can be challenged in exceptional situations.

“Habitually resident in Singapore”

“Habitual residence” means that the residence must be voluntary and for a settled purpose, although the purpose does not need to be particularly concrete. Establishing a pattern of always returning to a place would be sufficient.

It should be noted, however, that the habitual residence must also be continuous for more than 3 years immediately preceding the petition. Brief holidays or business trips would not break the continuity of residence but long absences will typically be considered to break that continuity.

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