For a divorce case to proceed in Singapore, you’ll need to prove that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In an earlier article, we explained various justifications to prove unreasonable behaviour by your spouse. In this article, we will explain what the requirements of separation are.

For a non-contested divorce, 3 years of separation is required and for contested divorce, an additional year.

Legal Definition of Separation

Separation in a legal context may not necessarily mean physical separation. It could also apply to couples who are still living together. Therefore, both parties must show the intent to be apart from each other. 

If one party of the divorce is living overseas because of a work obligation while the spouse remains in Singapore, then even though they are physically separated, the separation in this case was caused by work obligations and not an intent to divorce.

Loss of Consortium  

Consortium in a marriage is the right to companionship and association between each other. In other words, the intimacy and time spent with each other. In most divorce cases, there is a loss or reduction of consortium which leads to separation. 

However, if the couple are physically separated and living far away from each other, but still speak to each other regularly as if they were still together, or do not show any intent to end the marriage, then they will not be considered separated.

The separation will also need to be over a continuous period of time. The court will generally promote attempts at reconciliation and if the couple manage to live with each other again but fail after less than 6 months, they will still be considered separated.

How To Prove Separation While Living Together?

While it may seem impossible, it is actually possible to prove separation while still living together with your spouse. Both parties will need to maintain separate households even if they are living under the same roof. 

The judge will also consider the circumstances of the case including loss of consortium and a breakdown in the marriage while they were living together. 

During this period, both parties will also be expected not to engage in typical spousal duties which can include cleaning and cooking for each other. Both parties will also be expected to maintain separate finances and sleep in different rooms.


While separation refers to a mutual agreement between the couple, desertion depends on the deserting party’s frame of mind. It must be shown that the person had the intention to permanently end the marriage. This can apply if one party leaves the house, or if they have separated but one party refuses to resume cohabitation.

The desertion must also occur at least over two consecutive years, and likely to continue longer.

What You Will Need

For an uncontested divorce, you will need to file a formal consent written by your spouse in the Memorandum of Appearance (MOA). 

Your lawyer will help you draft a Deed of Separation, a legally binding document containing the terms and conditions of the couple’s arrangements to live separately. The separation deed consists of two categories of clauses.

  1. The details of the separation such as the date, living arrangements of both parties and an agreement that both parties will live separately.
  2. Financial arrangements between the spouses such as division of matrimonial assets, maintenance terms including children’s living arrangements and access.

A statement of particulars including the date when the couple decided to permanently end the consortium should be provided, including the reasons and intention to live separately. If the couple had been living separately, then proof of their respective residential addresses will be required.

For more details and information, you should speak to a divorce lawyer who can guide you based on your specific circumstances.

Engaging a Lawyer

If you are currently in a situation that requires mediation or legal advice, it’s best to consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

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