“MacDivorce” is a term I coined to describe what I regard as the “best” way to divorce (if there is such a thing as a “best” way for such a traumatic and stressful experience). It is the best because as the title suggests, it is fuss free, quick and thus low cost, kind of like having a meal at a fast food joint. As the premise for MacDivorce is the consensual understanding of both spouses, it is therefore the least painful.
Before I proceed further, I must add this disclaimer: Nothing in this article is meant to ridicule, belittle or undermine the seriousness of marriage vows. This article is written in the hope of helping anyone contemplating divorce understand a little bit of what is often a heart wrenching and painful process. The matter sets out here is strictly from my experience in the course of my practice and is not meant to reflect anyone else’s opinion/ experience/ practice.
Before your case can qualify for MacDivorce, it must have the following “ingredients”:
- You must have been married for at least 3 years;
- You must have been separated for at least 3 years;
- Your spouse must consent to the divorce;
- There must be no matrimonial property like a HDB flat;
- There must be no child/children to the marriage;
- Both parties are Singapore citizens and are residing in Singapore;
- Both parties are of age and of sound mind;
- The marriage was contracted in Singapore;
- Parties have worked out all the terms relating to maintenance, assets and legal costs;
- There is full co-operation and prompt response time by both parties.
Procedure , Time and Resource
Note: The time listed is an estimate only of the shortest possible time required and is only as good as parties’ full co-operation and prompt response. This includes the Court’s response time.
If your case satisfies all the above, then this is how your matter is likely to proceed if you engage a lawyer:
Step 1: Set up an appointment with a lawyer to brief him/her of your case (1-2 hours)
Step 2: The lawyer will write to your spouse informing him/her that you intend to commence divorce proceedings based on 3 or 4 year separation. The letter (“the Letter”) also sets out the terms of settlement where issues like maintenance, assets and legal costs (i.e. who bears how much) are concerned. The Letter will seek your spouse’s consent to the divorce and the settlement terms by asking your spouse to sign the enclosed Consent and the Letter and then returning both documents to the lawyer. (1-2 working days)
Step 3: Preparation of the court documents will commence and drafts will be sent to you for your approval or confirmation (1-5 working days)
Step 4: Upon receipt of the Letter, duly signed by your spouse and after all the drafts have been approved by you, the papers will be filed with the Family Court through the Electronic Filing System (1 working day)
Step 5: When the Court returns with the suit number of your writ and the filing date, your spouse will attend at the lawyer’s office to accept service of the documents and to sign the Draft Consent Order (setting out the terms of settlement stated in the Letter) (3-5 working days depending on spouse’s schedule)
Step 6: You will then attend at the lawyer’s office to sign the requisite documents so that you can apply for a hearing date for uncontested divorce. The hearing date given is usually about 3-6 weeks from the date of application. Draft Consent Order will be filed at the same time.
Step 7: Attend the hearing. Your spouse need not attend the hearing if he/she does not want to.
Step 8: Your lawyer will extract the Interim Judgment (3-5 days after the divorce hearing)
Step 9: 3 months later, your lawyer will apply for the Interim Judgment to be made final and the divorce is officially completed.
Most law firms will be prepared to fix their costs and disbursements for divorce matter of this nature. In my practice, the cost range for this kind of divorce matter is my firm’s lowest for divorce matter.
Total time taken from the day you are ready to meet your lawyer (all ingredients met) to Final Judgment is about 4 ½ – 5 months (see proviso above).