Couples can cite mutual agreement as grounds for divorce from July 1: MSF

Couples can cite mutual agreement as grounds for divorce from July 1: MSF

Couples can cite mutual agreement as grounds for divorce from July 1: MSF


SINGAPORE - From July 1, married couples can cite mutual agreement as a reason for divorce if they agree that their marriage has broken down irretrievably.


This change to the Women’s Charter will allow couples to divorce without citing issues such as adultery.


Currently, the existing grounds for divorce are adultery, desertion, unreasonable behaviour, and separation for three years with consent and four years without consent.


The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on May 13 that it will be bringing the change into effect in July, along with an extension of the mandatory co-parenting programme (CPP) for couples on the simplified divorce track who have children under the age of 21.


The amendments to the Women’s Charter were passed in January 2022.


Divorce by mutual agreement (DMA) may be cited by those divorcing under the simplified track and those on the normal track if they are not contesting the divorce.


To cite DMA as a fact, parties must provide the court with reasons to conclude that their marriage has irretrievably broken down, and show that they have made efforts to reconcile.


They must also submit to the court the arrangements that will be made in relation to their children and financial affairs.


The court has the power to reject an agreement to divorce if there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation.


Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling previously said at the second reading of the amendments to the Women’s Charter in 2022 that the DMA aims to reduce acrimony and better allow the family to heal and move on.


Children are innocent parties involved in an unfortunate situation and their exposure to pain and conflict that accompany divorce must be minimised, she said.


Currently, having to cite one of the existing facts of divorce may force parties to point fingers at each other or dredge up past hurts to prove the facts, the minister said.


“This can cause the child to be caught in the middle as allegations of misdeeds are being made by either or both of their parents against the other.”


From July 1, the CPP will also be extended to divorcing couples with minor children on the simplified divorce track.


Now, only couples with minor children filing for divorce on the standard track are required to attend CPP. This means they have not reached an agreement on the reason of divorce or issues such as child custody and division of matrimonial assets.


With this change, all couples with minor children will be required to complete the CPP before filing for divorce.


Under the programme, parents receive support from counsellors to help them make informed decisions that prioritise the well-being of their children, such as working out co-parenting arrangements arising from a divorce, MSF said.


Shafeeq, S. (2024, May 13). Couples can cite mutual agreement as grounds for divorce from July 1: MSF. The Straits Times.

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