EVERYTHING You Need To Know About Getting Divorced In Singapore… As An Expat

Because breaking up abroad is even more complicated.
01 July 2019

After filing for divorce in Singapore in 2019, Filipina expat Arlene* says her marriage wasn’t the only relationship that changed dramatically.

“Initially, all my friends were his friends’ wives,” shares Arlene, who asked to not use her real name for this story, as she and her ex-husband are still finalising their settlement. “People that I thought were my friends suddenly dropped me – as if getting divorced was contagious.” Beyond losing these former friends, she says she struggled with feelings of guilt and disappointment, too. “I felt like I had failed my family by leaving my ex,” confesses Arlene, who works as an entrepreneur and is a mother to three young boys. “It took a lot of crying – and a whole lot more self-love – to realise that what I had done had benefitted me and my sons. I had been unhappy in my marriage for a really long time, but hadn’t had the courage to say so.”

Going through this difficult experience led Arlene to create an invite-only Facebook page for other people undergoing divorce, and in search of comfort and camaraderie. The group even hosts in-person networking and social events. Arlene’s goal? “To ensure that members feel like they are part of a community where they aren’t judged or shunned for having a failed marriage,” she says.

More and more people are in need of such support. The global divorce rate has more than doubled in the four decades between 1970 and 2008. Today, there are 5.5 divorces for every 1,000 married people, according to research published in the December 2018 issue of Social Forces, a leading academic journal based in the U.S.

In addition, various studies indicate that expatriates may be more prone to getting divorced than the general public. “Divorce cases in Singapore with at least one party of a different nationality has increased by 9 percent – from 31 percent of cases filed in 2011 to 40 percent in 2015,” reported The Straits Times in 2017.

*Name has been changed
By Sushmita Mohapatra + Savitha Venugopal, The Finder Issue 299 / July 2019
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The Finder - Issue 299

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