How do I choose my lawyer?
Get referrals from friends. If you have friends who have gone through a divorce, ask them for specific comments about their lawyer(s).
Each case is different. You also need to do your own research on their work profiles to ascertain if he/she meets your requirements.
Get prepared and ask the right questions at the first meeting. You need to feel that you can connect with your lawyer and he/she understands your situation and offers practical solutions.
You also need to understand how you will be charged.
Divorce is a legal process which could be simple and straight forward. However, it is the feelings surrounding divorce that takes its toll emotionally.
Make sure you have exhausted all hope of reconciliation before you file for divorce. Once you have served your spouse with divorce papers, it can be difficult to go back emotionally on that decision, even if you have changed your mind. If you would still like to give the marriage a try, do marriage counselling before you file for divorce.
Do I have other options, other than divorce?
Judicial separation can be another option. The parties can seek permission from the court for not being bound to cohabit with each other. The court will grant the judicial separation if it is satisfied with the arrangement of the children (if any).
It is important to note that re-marrying is not an option if judicial separation is obtained, as you are not divorced as yet.
In the absence of judicial separation, and if you are unsure about the divorce, you can simply live apart with your spouse, preferably with a Separation Agreement in place, until such time when you are ready.
Alternatively, if you have no real desire to divorce, but you are merely concerned about financial arrangements, then you may consider a Post Nuptial Agreement.
Do I need his/her consent for divorce?
It depends. Consent is not always needed from the spouse for divorce. Once one is ready, you are allowed to file for divorce any time based on your spouse’s unreasonable behavior. But if you rely on one year separation for divorce, then consent from your spouse would be necessary.
Would my spouse be penalized for their behaviors?
Unless there is financial misconduct, one’s spouse will not be penalized for their behaviors. For example, having an affair would not affect the financial and child arrangements within their divorce.
When would I be officially divorced after I file the divorce petition?
The filing of the divorce Petition is only the first step of divorce. You are not divorced until and unless a Decree Absolute is issued. Decree Absolute is usually issued at the end of the Proceedings, but on certain circumstances, you can apply to the Court to expedite the same.
The length of one’s divorce process can vary considerably. The more that you can agree with your spouse, the quicker would be the process. The most straight-forward divorce, whereby there is no argument at all, would usually take about 6-8 months. But it could easily take years to complete.
In order to expedite an agreement with spouse, and hence reduce the process time, you should consider mediation – whereby a neutral third party would facilitate the negotiation with the objective of reaching an overall agreement.
Do I need prenuptial agreement?
Depends. It is highly recommended for a couple to sign a prenuptial agreement if they are in a financially stronger position and that they want to protect their pre-marital assets and/or any inheritance in the unfortunate event of a divorce.
Is there a fixed formula to decide on maintenance?
There is no formula to calculate maintenance whether it is for the spouse or for the children. The Judge has very wide discretion to decide what is fair in the circumstances, and the following will be part of the consideration:
- Income, earning capacity and resources
- Financial needs, obligation and responsibilties
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Age of parties and duration of the marriage
- Physical and mental disability
- Contribution to the welfare of the family
- Value to either of the parties of any benefit lost
Can I enter into another relationship before the conclusion of the Divorce Proceedings?
A marriage does not end legally until there is a Decree Absolute. Entering into a new relationship romantically during ones divorce process can become an issue but the law would not stop you from doing it.
How would my personal valuables be divided?
The law has very little to say about how to divide up personal belongings upon divorce. However, the general legal principle is that any assets which have been acquired during the marriage are added to the matrimonial pot and equal division is the starting point. This can include club memberships, watches and bags.
How would my pets be handled in divorce?
Pets are legally considered as personal property to be divided in the divorce. But no monetary value can be applied to the same. And certainly, the Court cannot make an Order for custody, care and control of your pets.
Can I split my children in divorce?
It is unusual for the Court to split the children in a custody battle, unless in extreme circumstances or by consent of the parties.
Does the mother of the children have advantage in securing the care of the children?
Not necessarily. There is no gender preference stated in custody laws. There may be a tendency to give primary custody to a mother with very young children, such as babies or infants, but each case depends on its own facts.
Can I travel with my children during and after my divorce?
During and after the divorce, and until the child reaches the age of 18, the Court has jurisdiction over the children. You can travel with your children only when you have the consent of the other parent. Otherwise, you will need to apply to the Court for an Order. This includes travelling to the Mainland China and Macau.
Can I change the surname of my children during or after my divorce?
You can only change the surname of your children if you have the consent of the other parent. However, if the children have reached 18 years old, he/she can do so by herself by signing a Deed Poll.
How long do I need to maintain my children for?
One would legally have to maintain for their child/children until they are 18 or until they finish full time education.