3 Divorce Myths I (Still) Commonly Encounter1. In my 13 years or so of practice, I have often heard clients or potential clients saying things like “…but my friend / relative / church member / random-uncle/aunty-at-the-coffee-shop said…”. Typically, I reply with a question “Is your friend a lawyer?” and am usually met with silence. 2. Very often well-meaning “kaypohs” are quick to offer their advice which comes from either their own experiences, or pure hearsay (or imagination), or a combination of both. Most of the time, such “advice” is plain wrong. Unfortunately, such wrong advice deters people from seeking proper legal advice. On some baffling occasions, even when I (with professional liability for wrong advice) tell these clients or potential clients that the law supports them, they would rather listen to such friend / relative / church member / random-uncle/aunty-at-the-coffeeshop. 3. For this article, I have chosen 3 Myths that I have encountered countless times. In fact, despite the amount of free resources that are floating around out there, I still encounter these Myths.
4. Myth 1: Property is always split 50-50% upon divorce.
4.1 Truth: The Court considers various factors such as contributions (financial / non-financial), needs of children, debts undertaken for benefit of family, income / earning capacity of parties, financial needs / obligations, length of marriage, age of parties, etc.
4.2 For typical matters, during my initial consultation, I actually provide a rough calculation on the projected % share, and the value of your projected % share. This is of course provided that clients are able to provide me with certain basic figures. With such rough calculation, clients are able to have an idea of their rough exposure and plan their finances properly.
4.3 More importantly, with a proper projection, my clients and I are able to make realistic proposals, which in turn increase our chances of resolving the matter earlier. Ultimately, this translates to less overall time and costs spent. Of course, much depends on how reasonable the other side is. But we can only act on the variables within our control, and it is fully within your control to get proper legal advice from a qualified professional (i.e. a lawyer).
5. Myth 2: Women’s Charter favours the woman. The man sure die one.
5.1 Truth: Utter rubbish. Seek proper legal advice to know your rights, options, what to expect, and how best to handle your matter.
5.2 During 1 call I had with a potential client he was concerned that the Court would not allow him to see his children at all. I assured him that the law encourages the child to have proper contact with both parents. Of course, exact details would depend on each case, but it would not be no contact as the man was concerned about. Despite my repeated assurances, he still insisted “Aiyah, my friend told me man sure die one. So might as well just agree and don’t fight”. In the end, he did not even seek legal assistance and I wish him all the best.
5.3 There are historical reasons why the Women’s Charter is named such. But I am not a historian so I will not attempt to be one here. If ever any historical advice is needed, please do seek advice from a qualified historian.
6. Myth 3: If want to divorce must wait 3 years before can file one. After that automatic considered divorce.
6.1 Truth: People often confuse the following 2 points:
(a) In first 3 years of ROM, cannot divorce. But can ask Court for permission. Can also consider annulment but must satisfy certain specific grounds; and
(b) After 3 years of ROM, can file divorce. You can use either of 5 facts as grounds for divorce. 1 of these facts is if you have been separated for 3 years and the other side consents.
6.2 Truth: There is no such thing as an automatic divorce. Perhaps people are confused with yet another of the 5 facts – i.e. that if you have been separated for 4 years, this can be used as a ground for divorce. Even then, there is no “automatic” divorce. Parties will still need to commence divorce proceedings to get their divorce formalized.
6.3 Unfortunately, I have seen quite a number of clients who unnecessarily delayed commencing divorce proceedings. This was because their “friends” / “relatives” / some random person, told them that they needed to wait X-number of years. In some of these cases, this delay caused years of prolonged friction and problems, as parties did not attempt to achieve a clean break earlier.7. These Myths illustrate the dangers of believing wrong information. Fake news and wrong facts can easily send you down the wrong path, to your own detriment. We have seen how people believed medical advice from non-medically-trained persons, or willfully went against advice from medically-trained-persons, to the detriment of their own health. In the context of legal advice, you should always get such advice from a lawyer. Not only are lawyers specifically trained in the field, but we also have professional liability for wrong advice given. Professional Indemnity Insurance is also mandatory, so if you do have a successful claim against a negligent lawyer, you will get an actual pay out. If however you successfully sue a non-legally-qualified person for wrong legal advice, you will face real difficulties trying to actually get paid. 8. Hopefully you do not ever face any legal issues and the only time you need legal assistance would be for purely transactional purposes (e.g. buying a property). Either way, be sure to get your legal assistance from a lawyer. 9. For further enquiries or communications, plesase contact me on my direct line at +65 94763230 (call / What’s App / text) or e-mail me at email@example.com.