A divorce can unfortunately bring out the worst in your spouse. Unreasonable behaviour during marriage often rears its ugly head as unreasonable tactics during divorce. We asked a top divorce lawyer in Singapore about tactics you should be wary of, what you can do about them, and how best to protect yourself.
The fact of the matter is divorce can inspire the worst behaviour in your spouse. He or she may be so aggrieved and resort to underhanded conduct. If your spouse is spoiling for a fight – and a dirty fight at that – here are some common divorce tactics that you should be aware of.
Many of these divorce tactics are illegal, and you shouldn’t resort to them no matter how bad the divorce gets. However, you need to be aware of these tricks so that you can get the best advice on how to protect yourself.
Trick#1:Dissipation of Assets
Most divorces do not happen overnight. So if a couple is already thinking of a divorce, some spouses may try and divest themselves of assets in order to pretend that they have modest means.
No matter how much or how little your spouse has, it is not an uncommon reaction to downplay wealth and hide assets. Your spouse may do this by moving money out of their own accounts, putting assets in a relative’s account, or claiming that they have lost money in bad investments.
Everyone should be aware that in Singapore, parties have a legal obligation to make a full disclosure of their assets and means. If your spouse fails to do so, the court will draw an adverse inference against him/her. This is usually far higher than the actual amount of wealth stashed away. Ultimately, this tactic will provide no benefit.
Your lawyer will not and should not help you hide your wealth. Do keep in mind that lawyers are first and foremost officers of the court. They have a duty to act honestly and to not mislead the court if they know the financial picture of their client is false. Most divorce lawyers will insist that their client makes full and frank disclosures, otherwise they will not be able to continue to represent you.
Trick#2: Cessation of Maintenance
In cases where one spouse has significantly more financial resources than the other, it is not uncommon for money to be used as leverage. This usually takes the form of cessation of maintenance. Doing so can cause the other spouse to have little or no money for legal representation.
As with the other tactics on this list, this strategy can possibly backfire.
For instance, if the husband has been providing maintenance for the wife and suddenly stops, this will force her to take out an application for maintenance. If the husband chooses to resist the application, not only will he likely be ordered to continue paying maintenance, but he may also have to pay back-maintenance and costs as well – on top of his legal fees.
Trick#3: Cancellation of the Spouse’s Dependent Pass
Sometimes, an expatriate may choose to divorce in Singapore. Many expatriate spouses are in Singapore with a Dependent Pass (DP). This is pegged to the other spouse’s work pass (also known as a “trailing spouse”). Arguably, the trailing spouse cannot expect to be provided with a DP indefinitely as parties have to be married for the DP to be renewed.
A common tactic employed is the early cancellation of the DP before it expires. This will likely give the trailing spouse difficulties as he/she is forced to relocate almost immediately. This is because upon cancellation of the DP, the trailing spouse will only be able to stay in Singapore for 30 to 90 days. What’s more, he/she will not be allowed to work during this period. This can force the trailing spouse to urgently file for an injunction so that their spouse applies for a fresh dependent’s pass. That way, the trailing spouse may stay in Singapore during the divorce proceedings.
The stresses of relocation aside, the most onerous downside of this tactic is that, more often than not, the trailing spouse will have to leave without the children. Under Singapore law, a parent cannot take the children out of the country without the consent of the other parent. Doing so will entitle the other parent to make an application for the departing parent to bring the children back.
Usually, the ones who really suffer are the children when they lose contact with the parent who is left behind.
Trick#4: Secretly Gathering Evidence
When a spouse is suspected of having an affair, the other spouse may resort to a variety of surveillance techniques – hiding video cameras in the home, car, or office, or by hiring a private investigator. In one case, a client once found out her husband bugged her car to log where she was going. She only found out when her mechanic found the device in her car. Although it may have given the husband the satisfaction of catching her red-handed, there was no legal need to obtain this evidence.
The same goes for secretly gathering information from a spouse’s computer and later feigning ignorance as to how the information was obtained. Methods include purchasing a piece of software to download the device’s hard drive. Other times, an IT expert is secretly called in.
These tactics are common but almost always illegal. If the court discovers that one spouse has used these techniques, it, will do more to harm than help the case. In fact, the spouse is exposed to civil and criminal liabilities.
Legal experts do not advise clients to resort to secret recordings or illegal access to computers. It is usually the case anyway that the information will not be useful. It is always better to stay clear of any illegal wrongdoing. Obtaining information that is relevant to the case via the compulsory court discovery process is the best way forward.
Trick#5: Divorce by Social Media
In these modern times, turning to social media for support in times of divorce may seem natural. Here, some spouses may sling mud at the other spouse to expose their wrongdoings. This could be because the other spouse has abandoned the family, committed adultery or neglected to provide maintenance for the family.
Whatever the outcome, this tactic usually does nothing more than add gasoline to the fire, worsening an already stressful situation.
Such actions can also have negative consequences, as it will reflect badly on that spouse’s case. The court also does not look kindly on such behaviour when there are children involved. Children should be kept out of their parents’ divorce proceedings as much as possible.
Also, proceedings might be dragged out further as applications might be taken out to stop the harassment if it gets out of hand.
Trick#6: Using the Children as Weapons in Divorce
All too often, parents going through a divorce turn their children against their spouse. These parents are so hurt that they want to get back at each other through their children. They are determined to punish the other parent by refusing contact with the children. Other times, they attempt to “poison” the minds of the children, by labelling the other parent as “useless”, “ugly”, or “good for nothing”. Perhaps worst of all, they may repeatedly tell the children that the other parent does not love them. Or they refuse to let the children see their mother or father.
What can you do in cases like this? You can ask your lawyer to make urgent applications to court to solve the problem. However, this is unnecessary and costly. And harm is already done. Using the children as weapons in divorce often leaves a emotional scars on both the the children and the parents.
The real victims are the children. Whatever happens, do not use your children as weapons in divorce.
Protect Yourself with a Top Divorce Lawyer in Singapore
It is better to conduct divorce in a proper and civil manner. The goal of a good divorce lawyer is to encourage settlements, not arguments. While emotions may run high in a divorce, unreasonable conduct, or underhanded divorce tactics will only serve to prolong the litigation. Or worse, it may adversely affect the children.
Your divorce will determine much about your future and your children’s future. That’s why you need top divorce lawyers to ensure that your needs are protected, lawyers like those from PKWA Law.
PKWA Law’s divorce lawyers are sensitive to the fact that divorce is often highly emotional, especially when there are children involved. Their team of family lawyers will work with you to resolve your divorce with compassion and as quickly as possible.
About PKWA Law Practice
PKWA Law is one of the largest family law firms in Singapore. Its family lawyers are widely regarded as among the best in Singapore.
PKWA Law’s lawyers practise only family law. Their specialisation in family law means that they are vastly experienced. And you can be sure that your case will be handled skillfully and professionally.
PKWA Law has been recognised as a "Leading Singapore Family Law Firm" in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 by Doyles Guide to Singapore Family Law Firms. It has also been shortlisted for "Matrimonial & Family Law Firm of the Year" by Asian Legal Business at ALB Southeast Asia Law Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Perhaps what is most impressive about PKWA family lawyers are the many testimonials that their clients have written. They take pride in being described as having “high professionalism” and being “compassionate.” You can read more about their clients’ reviews here.
Clear and Simple Fees
PKWA Law keeps their fees affordable, clear and transparent. If your divorce is amicable and uncontested, their divorce fees are one of the most affordable in Singapore:
· $1,500 all in (No Children, No Property & No Maintenance)
· $2,500 all in (With Children, HDB / Private Property & Maintenance)
Even if your divorce is contested, they offer fixed fees with payment plans. You will always know up front exactly what your total fees will be.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation, visit:
Divorce Blog: https://www.sgdivorcelawyer.sg