If you have ever wondered what went on when a couple goes on a divorce or separation process – I have indirectly understood (based on my friend’s ordeal over the last few weeks) and all I can say is that there’s a big price to pay just to go through this. And if you are keen to know what is involved, do continue to read on… But do note that this may not be the full picture of the entire process…
When Divorce Is Not A Straight Forward Option
My friend is married less than 3 years and the lawyer has highlighted that because of this, my friend can only opt for the Separation which will last for around 3 years before Divorce can be finalized. What is the Difference here? Basically if one can opt for Divorce directly, both parties can move on with their own lives and even have the option to remarry. But with Separation, both parties will not interfere or harass either party and in terms of relationship, they can only have those type of “boyfriend/girlfriend” type for the next three years.
And why 3 years? According to some, there might be a chance for both parties to rekindle the whole relationship and get back together. Therefore the 3 years is a good time frame for both to reconsider each other (or make amends).
What Happen To The Matrimonial Home
My friend has a Matrimonial Home with the HDB and therefore there’s this Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of 5 years to fulfill before they can resell to the Open Market (this option would mean that both parties can stand to gain some good profits if they are able to fetch a good price).
But because of the fact that this Separation Process is before the MOP, both parties may have to force/appeal surrender this house back to HDB and be prepared to lose money as a form of penalty imposed (most of the time the money lost is from the CPF account and if this option is chosen, both parties have to pay back the difference with interest). From what I have understood, the penalty amount is around $20,000 and may differ depending on the valuation.
And if both parties do not hate each other, they may stick through to the Separation Period and wait beyond the MOP. Meanwhile either party or both parties can stay in the house and be free to do anything (that includes bringing a new party back home) – the no harassment clause still holds! Therefore if either parties can endure this – this can be one of the options that can be considered during this process. If not… the surrender process is the way to go but then again this has to be approved by HDB!
The Right To Claim Full Ownership Of The Matrimonial Home
From what I have understood, either party can “sort of” minimize the penalty by trying to buy over the other parties’ share of the house. This is known as the Partial Surrender Option. Then again… this process is not that straight forward because to be able to exercise this, one party must have a strong reason to do so, e.g. having custody of a child and have the financial means to do so!
The Thing About Maintenance
If the male party is at fault (e.g committed adultery), the female party can claim for some form of Monthly Maintenance during the Separation Period. And this amount has to be mutually agreed by both parties. Any form of disagreement may have to be settled among both parties’ lawyers. Usually this payment term would last throughout the Separation Period (if the couple has no children, has earning abilities and still young) or last throughout (which will be spelled out in the Separation Agreement).
Anything That Is Related To Financial, Money Or Insurance
If the couple has a joint bank account or insurance policies – do note that should anything happen to either party during the Separation Period, the surviving party has the rights to demand for these money.
Therefore it would be advisable to sort these things out properly. Especially for Insurance Policies with Cash Benefits – if there’s no nomination of beneficiaries being made, it’s a good time to do so changes (because separated couple still has the rights to each other on this).
And if Insurance Policies are being made on the Joint-Life basis like Mortgage Insurance, both parties should talk things clear on whether to continue or to terminate or even talk to the Insurance Company on what they can do with this (e.g. to convert to two Single Life Policy).
Do Consider Your Life Partner Properly
These are some of the stuff that I have went through based on my friend’s ordeal. As you can see things can become complicated when both parties have to go through this divorce or separation process. Though I am not a Love Guru, do consider your Life Partner properly.