Family Law Mediation Saves Time and Money

For all, a divorce can be the cause of anxiety and many stressful times. Marriages may be challenging, but a divorce is even more traumatic, especially when spouses go for litigation. Fortunately, many couples now choose family law mediation first to discuss and settle issues regarding their separation. Most often, couples will prefer mediation because they consider it is less expensive than contesting divorce in Singapore. It is correct; however they don’t realize that mediation can save more than just money.

Singapore divorce lawyers can act as mediator to help couples come to an amiable settlement. He/she can help couples reduce that stress level because the entire process aims to reduce conflict while working on coming up with a fair settlement that is favourable to both parties. By acting as a coordinator, the divorce lawyer or the mediator guide couples through the negotiation process, such as property division, child support and custody, children relocation and spousal support. The role of the legal representative comes to play as he/she helps maintain peace while guiding couples towards mutual understanding that is acceptable to both parties.

Family law mediation can be secure in other ways as well. The process can reduce the lengthy paperwork and the time of case proceedings. A litigation case can last for months, or even year, especially if court hearings are required. On the other hand, mediation case can last for just a few sessions. Of course, a shorter procedure reduces cost, which can, at the end, reduce overall financial stress for both parties.

Advertisements

Singapore Divorce Lawyer Helps you to Make Right Decision

lawyer-divorceOn the day you got married, you never wanted to imagine that one day you would end up your marriage considering a divorce. We all want a marriage that is perfect and lasts forever, but it isn’t always possible.

For an expat seeking for divorce in Singapore, they need to understand the law of Singapore if they are staying in that country for a long time. If you have finally decided for marital termination, then take the help of Singapore divorce lawyer and they will assist you in the right way. However, before you finally go for contesting divorce, it is feasible to take the help of family law mediation. They are experienced professionals who understand the understand about collaborative divorce Singapore and your present situation. Thus, they will help to fix the issues in an amiable way.

The main intension of these family law experts is to save your marriage by resolving the main concern of disputes or by proper counselling. Despite their strong effort, most of the time is becomes hard to save their marriages. In that case, seeking the help of Singapore divorce lawyer can be the best option. Taking the help of professional divorce attorney can support your divorce proceedings.

When you are in different country, several questions come into your mind regarding the property settlement, child custody, and other related matters. Thus, divorce is always associated with mental, physical and emotional stress and this is why no one is ready to face it. The separation ruins the life of couples and they suffer a lot. A suitable divorce lawyer is one who can take you out of all these mess very easily.

Family Law Mediation- A Better Alternative to Contested Divorce

mediation1A mediator has a great role to play when it comes to marital separation. Family law mediation takes place under the guidance of a mediator who provides possible solution to problems, disputes and arguments. Mediation occurs outside courtroom and should be less stressful and time consuming than a contested divorce process or child custody battle.

Also, mediation is less expensive than a litigated divorce process. It allows both the parties to resolve divorce, child abduction dispute or family law case on your own schedule. Generally, it takes less time than a contested divorce. The family law mediation allows you to come to a mutual settlement rather than having a disposition levied upon you.

Mediation sessions could also occur in the middle of a contested divorce in which they are represented by divorce lawyers. The parties can fix meeting with the mediator even at the middle of the divorce and seek to obtain a compromise. Also, it allows the parties to avoid the expensive and the most tiring process of fighting the battle. Mediation is a way to skip endless appearances to court, long waiting in Court and facing challenges. In the other way it can help parents learn how to come up with a custody plan on their own terms.

It is good to give mediation a try as a way to attempt to settle their divorce on good terms. Moreover, the process allows parties to be invested in settling their disputes rather than leaving it to the judge to make the decision.

Effect of a Foreign Polygamous Marriage

recognition-of-foreign-divorceIt may seem that s 112(2) of the Women’s Charter only contemplates the division of matrimonial assets between a husband and a wife in a monogamous marriage. Your question may then be how the assets will be divided in an Expat divorce where a husband and wife where one party has another marriage overseas.

This was the case in TIG v TIH [2016] 1 SLR 1218, where the husband, who used to be Malaysian, had two marriages in Malaysia, where polygamy used to be legal. One of the issues in the case was whether his subsisting marriage to his first wife should be taken into account in dividing the matrimonial assets between him and his second wife. The husband argued that it should be, as the first wife had indirectly contributed to the acquisition of the matrimonial assets by taking care of the household, and that she had also contributed to financing his business.

The court held that the first wife did indeed make indirect contributions to the husband’s businesses. Moreover, even though the court had no power to award a non-party a share of the matrimonial assets, the court could take into account the first wife’s contributions as part of the husband’s share of assets.

Therefore, in such cases, the issue to be resolved is how to quantify the non-party’s contributions to the matrimonial assets, relative to the contributions of the parties undergoing a divorce. The court would first start with ascertaining the pool of matrimonial assets. It would then determine broadly how each party, including the non-party, contributed to this pool both directly and indirectly, accounting for the different circumstances in each household. Thereafter, further adjustments may still be made.

Although this case sheds some light on the court’s approach to dividing matrimonial assets between two parties, one of which has another marriage overseas, there has yet to be a case where there are multiple divorces with different parties to the polygamous marriage.

Enforcement of Foreign Maintenance Orders

n_recognition-of-foreign-divorce

In Singapore, Expat Divorce judgments can either be enforced under common law or under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (REFJA) or the Reciprocal Enforcement of Commonwealth Judgments Act (RECJA). For the former, the court must have in personam jurisdiction over the defendant, making it easier to enforce a foreign judgment under REFJA or RECJA, as if the country where the judgment is made is gazetted, the foreign judgment need only be registered and can be enforced as if it were a judgment of the Singapore court.

One issue is whether an order for periodic maintenance made in a foreign court comes under the definition of “judgment” for the purposes of registering it under REFJA or RECJA. In Lee Pauline Bradnam v Lee Thien Terh George [2006] SGHC 84, the High Court held that foreign periodic maintenance orders are not final and conclusive and will not be registrable under the RECJA. Furthermore, the court held that it would not be just and convenient to register the order under the RECJA.

This is because the sums due in periodic maintenance orders are payable periodically, and are amenable to variation when there are changes in the circumstances of the parties. As a result, they are not final and conclusive judgments. This is as opposed to maintenance orders that are lump sum payments, which could be registrable under REFJA or RECJA.

Instead, the court held that such orders would be more appropriately registered under the Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act (MO(RE)A). This Act provides for enforcement of a maintenance order under section 8, and also the variation and revocation of a maintenance order under s 9.

It also is worthy to note the court’s observation that making, enforcement and variation of a periodic maintenance order should be left to the court of the jurisdiction where the party’s income is derived, as it would be better placed to do so.

Foreign Divorces that Lacked Capacity

In certain cases, a court of another jurisdiction grant may grant divorce, but the parties may lack capacity to be divorced. This could be the case where the marriage was void, possibly because one party was already married at that time. However, the Singapore court, if unaware of the divorce overseas, may grant a Decree Nisi in respect of the divorce. It must then be decided whether the overseas divorce will be recognised in Singapore such that the Decree Nisi by the Singapore court would be set aside or rescinded.

In Yap Chai Ling v Hou Wa Yi [2016] 1 SLR 660, the court made two main observations in relation to this factual scenario.

First, it identified that s 7(b) of the Women’s Charter provides that a marriage can be dissolved by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, including foreign courts. However, this foreign divorce judgment will only have effect in Singapore if the Singapore courts recognise it in accordance with the rules of private international law.

Second, once the foreign court is found to be competent, the principle of international comity would usually compel Singapore courts to recognise the expat divorce judgment. This would be the case unless the enforcement is manifestly contrary to public policy or substantial justice.

In the case, the court held that the Shanghai divorce judgment would not be recognised in Singapore, as to do so would in effect be acknowledging that a bigamous marriage may be regularised. Further, in Noor Azizan bte Colony (alias Noor Azizan bte Mohamed Noor) v Tan Lip Chin (alias Izak Tan) [2006] 3 SLR(R) 707, the court also held that in Singapore, there cannot be multiple subsisting marriage relationships that exist in parallel and be dissolved separately, as the marriage effects a permanent change in the legal status of the parties.

Therefore, foreign marriages that are void from the start cannot be recognised by the Singapore court.

Foreign Pre-Nuptial/Post-Nuptial Agreements

You and your spouse may have made a prenuptial agreement – or postnuptial agreement either before or after the marriage took place. Your question may then be whether these agreements will be accounted for or enforced in the Singapore courts.

Post-nuptial agreements

Singapore law encourages settlement of divorces through mechanisms like mediation through divorce lawyers, as it attempts to provide a harmonious resolution of the divorce. Correspondingly, the law respect parties’ autonomy to make postnuptial agreements when divorce is contemplated, and will duly enforce such agreements.

Pre-nuptial agreements

Previously, the courts were reluctant to enforce pre-nuptial agreements, as it was thought that such agreements attempt to oust the jurisdiction of the court so that they were contrary to public policy.

Recently, however, the Court of Appeal in TQ v TR [2009] SGCA 6 gave effect to a pre-nuptial agreement that was made 16 years earlier, recognising that it was valid and effective. It considered that the parties had entered into the agreement voluntarily, as mature adults, and in the presence of a notary public who had explained the content and effect of it. Furthermore, it provided for maintenance, though it did not make any provision for the division of assets.

This decision is notable because it was previously thought that the focus of the court would be whether the agreement is recent enough to reflect the current circumstances of the parties, as the parties cannot usually weigh the risks of entering into the agreement. While this may still be a factor, the court highlighted that there would situations where the agreement would be accorded significant, if not overriding, weight.

Despite the trend towards the enforcement of foreign pre-nuptial agreements, however, it cannot be assumed that such agreements will always be enforced. Ultimately, the court will exercise its discretion to ensure that a fair outcome is achieved. In doing so, it will balance its respect for party autonomy and its commitment to ensuring that fundamental family obligations are fulfilled and financially weaker family members protected.

As a side note, it is not very clear from the court’s judgment what law to apply to determine whether such agreements are valid. However, one interpretation is that the parties agreement in accordance with the proper law of the contract would trump the law of the domicile of the parties. In TQ v TR, even though the court found that the Netherlands was not the parties’ domicile, the court relied on s 112 of the Women’s Charter to justify giving effect to the agreement. This section provides that the court has the power to order a just and equitable division of the parties’ assets.

Immigration Issues for Divorcing Expatriates

An international divorce can be a painful process, especially for expatriates seeking divorce in a foreign country, away from friends and relatives. This post aims to highlight possible immigration issues upon the conclusion of a divorce process.

Scenario 1: Your spouse is not a Singaporean, and you are granted a Dependent pass.

If your spouse decided to move to Singapore to work and you chose to move with him/her, you would most likely have been granted a Dependent’s pass to stay in Singapore. If so, your immigration status is intricately linked to your status as a spouse. In this regard, the divorce would result in a cancellation of your Dependent’s pass. As a result, you will have to leave the country within 14 days.

Alternatively, should you wish to remain in Singapore, you can look for a job locally and apply for an Employment Pass. An employment pass would have been granted if you had a job offer in Singapore as well and met the relevant eligibility criteria. If so, your immigration status will unaffected by the divorce and you can choose to remain in Singapore after the divorce.

As for your child (if any), his/her Dependent’s pass would remain valid if it was tied to your working ex-spouse’s pass. If you do not seek employment locally, this may result in complications. You would be forced to leave the country, leaving your child behind, even if you have been awarded custody and control over your child. Further, you might be restricted from relocating your child overseas to your home country.

Scenario 2: Your spouse is a Singaporean, and you are granted a Long Term Visit Pass.

If your spouse is a Singaporean and you entered Singapore on a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP), it will likely be revoked following the divorce proceeding in Singapore as well. This is because the LTVP requires proof of marriage and sponsorship by your spouse for renewal. Hence should you wish to remain in Singapore, you should similarly seek employment and apply for an employment pass.

Restrictions on relocation of child overseas

Following an expat divorce in Singapore, you may desire to return to your home country to start afresh. If you have been given custody and care and control over your child, you may be considering returning with the child as well. However, there are some restrictions before you can do so.

Under S126(3) and S125(4) of the Women’s Charter, the child may not be taken out of the country for more than one month unless there is written consent from both parents, or leave of the Court. In most cases, it is unusual for a spouse to obtain consent from his/her ex-spouse to take the child out of the country. This is because your ex-spouse would want to maintain contact with your child. Hence it is likely that your child will have to remain in Singapore.

Without consent from your ex-spouse or having applied for leave from the Court, if you bring your child with you back to your homeland, it may constitute international child abduction. Your spouse may then apply to the court which the child was brought to for an order to return the child to the country from which he was removed. This order is likely to be granted if the country, to which the child was brought to, is a signatory to The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Nevertheless, you may make an application for the leave of court to remove your child from the jurisdiction against the wishes of the other parent, in limited circumstances. In such an application, the court is primarily concerned with whether the decision to remove the child from the jurisdiction is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case.

Some of the factors that the court would look at before approving or rejecting the application for relocation:

  • The effects on the child if the wishes of the parent with primary care wishing to take them abroad are interfered with
  • Whether the parent with primary care may have resentment against the child if his or her application to remove the child is not granted
  • Whether the application is made in good faith and for good reasons. The aim of relocation must be in the best interests of the child. If the relocation aims to isolate the child from the other parent, it may not be in the best interests of the child.

International Divorce Issues in Singapore

Family Law matters with an overseas element can and more often than not, be complicated.

An experienced international divorce lawyer strives to address and explain the most complex of legal issues, be they involving child custody, spousal support or matrimonial asset division.

Your expat divorce lawyer should have extensive experience in handling disputes involving child custody, visitation rights, child abduction, divorce, division of assets, discovery of hidden assets. Your lawyer should also be trained in Mediation and Collaborative divorce in order to help you resolve your matrimonial issues outside the court room system.

It is also essential that they have established global contacts including, overseas matrimonial lawyers and private investigators. With the trend moving toward globalization, international divorces tend to cross international lines more often than not, leaving families to wonder which country not only has jurisdiction but is of more advantage to them.

When it comes to international custody and visitation disputes in an expat divorce, there have been instances where some parents take a child out of jurisdiction without the consent of the other parent. A good divorce lawyer handling expat divorces in Singapore will alert you to taking immediate steps in order to protect you and your loved one`s interests.

Your international divorce lawyer will be able to offer personalized service, practical advice, and not be afraid to apply an aggressive approach, as needed in all international family law disputes.

Expat Divorce in Singapore

A divorce through the Singapore courts may be available to you if you are not a citizen or Permanent Residency holder in Singapore. If you are residing in Singapore and have done so for the last 3 years, you qualify to file divorce proceedings in Singapore. There are added complexities to a divorce in such cases. It is often referred to as an Expat Divorce.

You may file for an international divorce if:

  •  You have resided in Singapore for 3 continuous years. In this case you are eligible to  file for expat divorce in Singapore
  •  Your civil marriage took place abroad
  •  You and / or your spouse are from outside Singapore, and have made Singapore your home

The above are the basic criteria where ‘expat divorce’ or international divorce law applies. Due to the nature of an international divorce, there are usually some complex legal issues to consider so it always best to take advice from a lawyer experienced in international divorce issues.

Expat Divorce Lawyers

Our lawyers are able to offer advice on international and expat divorce issues, including information on the divorce process in Singapore. We can give advice on issues of jurisdiction as well as relocation of children and maintenance issues.

Our lawyers are ready to help guide and advise you throughout the entire process and help you move on with your life. Call us on 63370469 or email us at consult@gjclaw.com.sg