- Having no/little support. Most of their close friends and family are back home. Even though they made friends here, because of the small Expat community they worry about words getting round to people they don’t want to which restrict their ability to share and get support
- Work. Some couple worries about how work would deal with their new situation given most are moved here/remunerated as a family and there are career/financial/practical implications at work if they were to divorce.
- Where to be. Couples have challenges in terms of what the divorce means in terms of where each person and the family should be located. Do we all move home? Do 1 stay and 1 move back? Do both stay and for how long? For those who had been on long term oversea assignment (and moving every 2 years), it might create confusion in terms of where is “home” that they can return to
- Finance. Many couples have finance/investment/properties here, back home, and possibly in yet another country they were previously posted. Untangling the financial mess takes some work. This also creates sense own insecurity especially for trailing spouse who didn’t have their “own” money and worried that their partner would “hide” the finance.
- Legal. Couples have to decide which country has jurisdiction over their divorce and asset division. Many couple have to deal with 2 (or even 3 if they are cross-culture couple) legal systems and figuring what’s best for them and the family. This is more difficult if the divorce is acrimonious which might lead to some people being stuck here for longer than they wanted to (in order to see the legality through).
Having children made the situation of getting a divorce more complicated. Couples have the additional concerns of:
- How & where (which country) to share custody and co-parent in the best way that minimize impact on the children
- When and how to move that doesn’t impact the children’s schooling
- How long and how to stay if they are staying for the children’s schooling
- Increase cost of running 2 household in Singapore with the same remuneration package
- Practical & logistic issues (e.g., country of children’s passport might have implication of where they need to be)
It is important for couples to find out what is the difference if they file their divorce in their home country/ies vs Singapore. It is important for them to speak to lawyers in both/all countries. There are differences in terms of how fast you can file (e.g., period of separation, grounds of divorce), rules of custody, maintenance, alimony, and asset division, and whether they meet residency requirement, etc.
For Singapore, all legal information is posted online on the law society website and a quick research can help Expats gain some quick insights of what are the guidelines.
For a quick summary, in Singapore, it is possible for the wife to apply for maintenance/child support any time of their marriage during the marriage, the separation or the court proceedings for a divorce. Similarly, “Custody” refers to who has legal decision-making authority in the life of a child. The decision-making authority is usually in regard to major life issues such as religion, education, health and activities. “Care and control” refers to which parent the child lives with on a day-to-day basis; “Access” refers to the periods during which the parent who does not have care and control of the child is granted time to spend with the child. Either parent can apply for all 3 during any time of their marriage, during the separation or the court proceedings for a divorce.
What is important to note is, in Singapore, DP is only valid for those who are legally married. Therefore once the divorce is legally finalized, the DP needs to be cancelled (by EP’s employer or EP himself/herself). The DP pass holder can then be issued a 30-day Short Term Visit Pass if the pass holder is still in Singapore when the pass is cancelled. Of course the DP holder can also apply for EP, EntrePass, or PEP for themselves. What is not commonly known is that female visitors whose child or grandchild is studying in Singapore on a Student’s Pass may apply for a Visit Pass (for long term stay).
The children can still be on DP as legally they are still the EP’s children, the divorce doesn’t change anything. If the family is planning to stay in Singapore and mom is not planning/able to work, the family might consider getting a Student Pass for the children which gives mom (and grandmother) eligibility to apply for a long term stay pass.