Marriage takes a lot of work, and most couples find ways to resolve some of their marital issues. But in some cases, couples may refuse to work on the marriage, resigning to the fact that their problems are not worth fixing.
In such cases, couples can file for divorce. But since the Courts only grant a divorce based on the “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” and after three years have passed, couples who wish to separate early can file for an annulment of marriage in Singapore.
This guide briefly discusses the legal implications of an annulled marriage and its differences from divorce proceedings.
How Is An Annulment Of Marriage Different From A Divorce?
After a successful divorce, a couple can freely move on with their lives and date other people whilst acknowledging the existence of their past marriage.
For instance, one party refers to the other as their ex-wife or ex-husband. Parties who successfully divorce from their ex-partners are often referred to as “divorcees”.
An annulment of marriage, while it is a legal procedure dissolving the marriage, considers the marriage non-existent from the beginning. It’s as if the couple didn’t marry in the first place.
An annulment declares a marriage null and void, and the parties’ marital status returns to “single”. A successful annulment hinges on the parties being able to prove that they were in a void or voidable marriage in the beginning.
2. Differences Between Void And Voidable Marriages
Void marriages refer to marriages that are invalid from the very start, even without a formal annulment. Couples involved in ongoing annulment proceedings will remain “married” in their marital status until it has been successfully annulled.
Meanwhile, a voidable marriage is still invalid. But the difference is that the marriage can continue unless a party decides to file an annulment.
The Court will ensure that you satisfy other criteria before they consider your marriage voidable, as it has different grounds from a void marriage. More on this below:
Void marriages are invalid from the very beginning. According to Section 105 of the Women’s charter, there are several grounds for a marriage to be void:
- Marriage between two Muslims which are registered or solemnised under the Women’s charter
- Marriage between close relatives (Singapore law recognises marriages between cousins, second cousins, third cousins, etc., to be legal)
- Marriage involving an underage party
- A marriage that has not been properly solemnised under the law
- Marriage to parties who have already been legally married to another person under whatever religion, law, or usage
Voidable marriages are recognised as valid under the law. That is until a party begins annulment proceedings based on several grounds. Section 106 of the Women’s Charter outlines several grounds for a voidable marriage:
- The marriage was not consummated due to the incapacity of either party.
- The marriage was not consummated owing to a willful refusal of either party.
- A party did not express their valid consent to the marriage due to coercion, mental disorder, or whatever reason.
- The marriage, while done with valid consent from both parties, is voidable because either party suffers from a mental disorder at the time of the marriage.
- Both parties were diagnosed and suffered from a sexually-transmitted disorder during the marriage.
- Another man (third-party to the marriage) has impregnated the wife during the marriage.
Conditions For An Annulment Of Marriage In Singapore
Below are the following conditions for a marriage annulment in Singapore:
- Legal Status – Anyone, whether Singaporean or not, can file for an annulment of a void or voidable marriage. However, the couple must be residing in Singapore at the start of annulment proceedings.
- Date of Application: There’s no time limit on when a party can formally annul a void marriage. But unlike a void marriage, a voidable marriage must be filed within three years unless the couple is applying based on the grounds for voidable marriages mentioned above.
4. How To Annul A Marriage In Singapore
Annulment proceedings can begin if one party is satisfied with the grounds for annulment. Below are the steps for the annulment process in Singapore:
Step 1: Submit Your Claims For The Grounds For Annulment
You must file a writ for annulment of your marriage, alongside other pertinent documents wherever applicable:
- Statement of Claim – Stating the grounds for annulment
- Statement of Particulars – Supporting documents for the grounds of annulment.
- Proposed Parenting Plan – Stating proposed arrangements for kids in the marriage after separation.
- Agreed Parenting Plan – Stating mutually agreed parenting arrangements for the children after HDB (Housing and Development Board) properties.
Step 2: The Court Will Deliver Their Interim Judgement
Once you submit all required and supporting documents, the Court grants an Interim Judgement. This proves that the marriage is either void or voidable.
Step 3: Settling Of Ancillary Matters
After granting an Interim Judgement, the Court will settle ancillary matters regarding child custody, division of matrimonial assets, and quantum maintenance.
Step 4: Judgement Of Nullity
After settling ancillary matters, the Court grants the final Judgement of Nullity. Afterwhich, the marriage is officially annulled, and each of the couple’s marital status returns to “single”.
Conclusion About Marriage Annulments In Singapore
Applying for a marriage annulment can be overwhelming for couples. While it is not necessary to engage with a lawyer for annulment proceedings, they can be confusing, as various documents and steps are involved.
If you’re considering an annulment, it’s advisable to engage with an experienced divorce lawyer in Singapore. They will assist in determining requirements and ensuring you get an equitable share in the custody of children, matrimonial assets, maintenance, etc.
Call The Singapore Lawyer now and get a free 30-minute consultation from a professional divorce lawyer on your first call.
Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage Annulments In Singapore
How Long Is An Annulment?
If no party contests the application for annulment, scheduling a Court hearing the day after submitting your claims is possible.
The Court will grant a final Judgement of Nullity at least three months after granting an Interim Judgement until ancillary matters are dealt with. Uncontested annulments can take 4-5 months. Contested annulments can take longer, depending on the case’s complexities.
What Happens To The Children After Annulment?
Parents need to settle Ancillary Matters before the Court decides its final judgement. Ancillary Matters deal with child custody and the children’s legitimacy status:
- Voidable Marriages – Children born out of voidable marriages (which have been annulled) are considered legitimate.
- Void Marriages – Children born out of void marriages (which have been annulled) are considered legitimate if the couple believed their marriage was valid during solemnisation.
Can You Remarry Your Ex-Spouse After Annulment?
Yes. Singapore has no laws prohibiting couples from remarrying after separation. But if they’re in the process of a divorce, one party may decide to rescind the proceedings to prevent marriage dissolution.
How Much Is A Marriage Annulment In Singapore?
Our family lawyers always try to work within a budget that’s comfortable and fair for everyone. This generally depends on the scope and amount of work involved – we can discuss and agree on this when we talk to you about your case to understand the current situation. Will will then determine a feasible budget and offer instalment options if necessary to assist you.