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Divorce and Expat Wives

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Divorce and Expat Wives

Postby queue » Sat, 09 Apr 2011 7:36 pm

Good day.

I just wanted to share my personal story because I do think that there is very little information found in Singapore on expats and divorce in Singapore.

I am an expat wife. I followed my husband here and I was basically abandoned me by letting our lease expire and moving into a new apartment by himself. I could have just gone home empty handed but I would not have been able to touch him back in the states as SG and the US do not have any agreements. So I stayed and took him on here.

I took him to court for maintenance and I won... after 10 months waiting. I lived off my savings and the financial help of my parents. Had good friends and some help from AWARE.

A few things to remember:
1) As a wife you are sponsored by your husband or his company. He can cancel your visa and you have 30 days to leave. You can apply for a visa if you have children studying in SG or if you have no kids but a university degree you can apply for a 1 year social visit pass.

2) Banking - contrary to what EVERYBODY tells you... you can open a bank account. I just opened one yesterday at OCBC. You need a passport and your social visa (green card)

3) You can get money from your husband without even applying for divorce. Its a TRIAL... expensive and long. If you don't think you will be a very good witness on the stand you may want to apply for a divorce and go about it that way.

You need to be married 3 years for a divorce but if you can prove that your spouse is unreasonable it can be waived. Almost anything can be unreasonable.... you just have to make a case for it.

You do need to be in SG for period of time. Can't remember what that was.

Lawyers are not cheap. You really should talk to someone even if you are not even at that stage. And make photocopies of all his financials. That is what I did. You need to look at what you might get and take the lawyer costs into consideration.

if you are smart you can be your own attorney. From what I hear its a lot of work but not impossible.

4) Lawyers - Good expensive lawyers make money from charging you on a per hourly basis. they prefer to take things to court because you are an expat and therefore have money. My husband told me his lawyer said that I would be lucky if I got a few hundred dollars a month. My ex must hate his lawyers now that they were so WRONG! Well I think they also made about 70K from him in the meantime.

It is best if you CAN settle out of court. Lawyers cost anywhere from S$400-800 an hour! Be wary of what lawyers tell you... meet with a few and go with your gut.

Harry Elias is one of the top firms in Singapore - extremely costly but if you have money they are great. They will charge you a poop load of money but it might be worth it.

Mirchandani and Partners is who I went with. They are a boutique law firm. Unlike other law firms they prefer to NOT go to trial .. settling out of court is less costly for everybody. I cannot speak well enough of Mirchandani and Partners. They often tell me that the goal of most lawyers is to make money and I saw this first hand through my ex's lawyer.

If you need some legal advice... AWARE.org.sg is a great start. you can get a 10 min consultation with a lawyer for free. They will NOT take your case for free or anything but its a place to start. They are also not allowed to take your case either. you do need to call the hotline. They also offer counseling services at reduced cost if that is a problem. Divorce and/or abandonment is not easy.

Good luck. Stay strong. Take it a day at a time and be surrounded by positive people and you will get through it.

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Postby bluenose » Sun, 10 Apr 2011 8:20 am

Would love to hear the other side of the story!
I asked my wife to leave and she emptied the bank account in the UK and has lawyers (after saying we would split amicably)....has told endless lies and some 2 years later it is still ongoing.....in the process filling up my kids heads with endless brainwashing lies and using them as weapons....
always two sides eh!

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 10 Apr 2011 1:34 pm

There's a specific term for using children as weapons in such circumstances. You can even buy books on that specific issue and how to deal with it. Poor children.

I was curious why someone would register to post the OP. But then I seem to recall that in such circumstances one can feel on something of a mission to inform the public :)

I don't think anyone who has participated in a contested divorce is going to give you the 'middle line' in describing it. Sometimes simply recounting your tale is a part of the healing process. It's when you've done it 20 times to the same people that it starts to wear a little thin :)

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Postby durain » Sun, 10 Apr 2011 11:11 pm

i hear similar stories too where the husband got the yellow fever, wife and kids get dumped and send back to the home country.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 10 Apr 2011 11:31 pm

Lots of stories about Oil Field hands as wells getting raked over the coals while they were out on the rigs. Today isn't so bad now though with internet good phone communications and the ability to bank online. I know of a lots of horror stories though.

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Postby k1w1 » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 7:06 am

I thought the OP sounded like an advertisement for her lawyers, to be honest.

:roll:

There are no winners in a divorce. Even if it is an amicable split, the entire process is horrendous for everyone involved. I heard once that it is the second most stressful thing one can go through in life, short of death of a spouse or child. Not sure how true that is, or how you'd measure that, but there you go.

Just to put a cat among the pigeons I don't think (on the whole) ex spouses should be allowed to get maintenance from each other when there are no children involved. There has to be a degree of personal responsibility somewhere. In Singapore, men are actually massively disadvantaged as they can't claim spousal maintenance even if they get care and control of the kids.

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Postby queue » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 7:24 am

very sorry to hear about your situation. I have many friends, male and female that are going through nasty divorces. Having kids makes it that much harder. Kids are not stupid. They see more than you think and if they are being fed lies... I am sure that the kids will see it.

The purpose of my post really was not to bash my ex in any way although I am sure that I would have plenty to say if so.

Being an expat wife here is not as easy and glamorous as most people would like to think. We leave our home countries, our families and our jobs/careers. We are totally dependent on our husbands. If I had to do it all over again, I would never have moved to Singapore. Its not easy to lose your independence. I was told by many including other wives that I could not open a bank account here in my own name. We can be very vulnerable here as the policies here do not protect or consider the foreign wives welfare. The court and the women's charter is another story but all that takes time, visa and often money.


There was little information out there and the circle of women that I know here were not very helpful outside of emotional support. I merely wanted to give women here some information of where they could turn to. its been a long road to get where I am now.

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Postby queue » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 7:41 am

In trying to be more informative - I provided women with choices of lawyers that range from the very expensive to being free. My lawyer was somewhere in the middle.

On your other comments...

- agree there are no winners in a divorce. Personally speaking, the divorce was a whole lot easier than my marriage.

- It is a shame that men cannot get maintenance. I think it is very unfair and would very much welcome a change in the policies.

-In terms of your perspective on maintenance. I have heard this from many men. they don't believe in spousal maintenance. And I then I ask them if their father divorced their mother after X years of marriage and despite all the sacrifices she has made in terms of career and etc if any if he thought it fair that she gets nothing. often men tell met that it is a totally different story.

Maintenance should be on a case by case basis. Many expat women give up something to come to Singapore. I gave up a good paying job because I felt that coming to Singapore for his career would be best for us. My maintenance is not going to last a lifetime but 2 years. But it is to give me a footing to get myself on my feet.

I dont understand why men feel that maintenance is such an atrocity. I think prenups are great. if you don't ever want to pay maintenance then get her to sign it. I would have. I would have also realized that we were going to be 2 completely independent people in a marriage. And I would have never uprooted and moved to follow his career. And I would decide heavily if I wanted to have kids with this man. I would have a better understanding of what marriage meant to him.

Expectation management in all respects...

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Postby k1w1 » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 7:44 am

Oh, and about the cost of divorce, there are lawyers in Singapore who do a "divorce package" (charming, but true) for about $3k. If the other person doesn't contest, it is done and dusted very quickly.

I found the whole legal side of divorce crazy. When you get married, you get it drummed into you that it's serious, it's for life and you have to be sure of what you're doing etc. I thought the divorce would be something similar, but it wasn't. I actually burst out laughing when my now ex and I were in the notary public's office signing all our final documents off (we didn't use lawyers) and all the guy said was: "Are you Mrs k1w1? Good, then sign here, here, here and here. And are you, Mr k1w1? Good, then sign here, here, here and here." I actually asked him if he was going to warn us about the seriousness of what we were doing, and he said: "No. Please sign here, here, here and here." Cue very nervous laughter from me, and that was it. All over in a few minutes... Weird.

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Postby k1w1 » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 7:51 am

queue wrote:In trying to be more informative - I provided women with choices of lawyers that range from the very expensive to being free. My lawyer was somewhere in the middle.

On your other comments...

- agree there are no winners in a divorce. Personally speaking, the divorce was a whole lot easier than my marriage.

- It is a shame that men cannot get maintenance. I think it is very unfair and would very much welcome a change in the policies.

-In terms of your perspective on maintenance. I have heard this from many men. they don't believe in spousal maintenance. And I then I ask them if their father divorced their mother after X years of marriage and despite all the sacrifices she has made in terms of career and etc if any if he thought it fair that she gets nothing. often men tell met that it is a totally different story.

Maintenance should be on a case by case basis. Many expat women give up something to come to Singapore. I gave up a good paying job because I felt that coming to Singapore for his career would be best for us. My maintenance is not going to last a lifetime but 2 years. But it is to give me a footing to get myself on my feet.

I dont understand why men feel that maintenance is such an atrocity. I think prenups are great. if you don't ever want to pay maintenance then get her to sign it. I would have. I would have also realized that we were going to be 2 completely independent people in a marriage. And I would have never uprooted and moved to follow his career. And I would decide heavily if I wanted to have kids with this man. I would have a better understanding of what marriage meant to him.

Expectation management in all respects...


I'm a woman. And a mother. And I divorced in Singapore.

So I do know how very, very hard it is to be an expat wife in Singapore who goes through a divorce.

I don't think spousal maintenance is an atrocity. I just think it is often abused. Yes, every case is different, but if someone can work and support themselves, they should. I don't think being married automatically means one side should be entitled to ongoing financial support after the marriage ends. (As I already said, when there are kids involved, that is a different matter altogether.)

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Postby x9200 » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 7:57 am

k1w1 wrote:Just to put a cat among the pigeons I don't think (on the whole) ex spouses should be allowed to get maintenance from each other when there are no children involved. There has to be a degree of personal responsibility somewhere.

Do you mean there are no kids at all?

In Singapore, men are actually massively disadvantaged as they can't claim spousal maintenance even if they get care and control of the kids.


In Europe (at least in some countries) the spouse gets the maintenance only if her/his living condition drastically deteriorates (and below certain level) as a result of the divorce and factors like ability to earn your own living are taken into account.

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Postby k1w1 » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 8:20 am

I don't understand your question: "do you mean there are no kids at all?" (I'm only referring to couples who do not have children. Obviously the welfare of children should be a huge factor in maintenance decisions and taking care of them can impede on a parent's ability to work so the other spouse should help share this).

x9200 wrote:
k1w1 wrote:Just to put a cat among the pigeons I don't think (on the whole) ex spouses should be allowed to get maintenance from each other when there are no children involved. There has to be a degree of personal responsibility somewhere.

Do you mean there are no kids at all?

In Singapore, men are actually massively disadvantaged as they can't claim spousal maintenance even if they get care and control of the kids.


In Europe (at least in some countries) the spouse gets the maintenance only if her/his living condition drastically deteriorates (and below certain level) as a result of the divorce and factors like ability to earn your own living are taken into account.


That's interesting. Sounds much fairer, and less sexist, than assuming a woman can't take care of herself or shouldn't financially support the father of her children if he ends up with custody.

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Postby Mary Hatch Bailey » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 8:22 am

queue wrote:Being an expat wife here is not as easy and glamorous as most people would like to think. We leave our home countries, our families and our jobs/careers. We are totally dependent on our husbands. If I had to do it all over again, I would never have moved to Singapore. Its not easy to lose your independence. I was told by many including other wives that I could not open a bank account here in my own name. We can be very vulnerable here as the policies here do not protect or consider the foreign wives welfare. The court and the women's charter is another story but all that takes time, visa and often money.


There was little information out there and the circle of women that I know here were not very helpful outside of emotional support. I merely wanted to give women here some information of where they could turn to. its been a long road to get where I am now.


Good for you queue! Your post was great ~ and I hope it will reach some of the people who need it most. There is a lot of misinformation out there.

This is a predominantly male forum, with (in my opinion) somewhat biased views when it comes to women. Most here will scoff at the idea of a less-than-perfect life of the expat wife that you've described, but I've seen it over and over again in my time here in Singapore.

Divorce is never easy, but it sounds you've made it through in one piece ~ good for you.

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Postby JR8 » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 8:40 am

queue wrote:Being an expat wife here is not as easy and glamorous as most people would like to think. We leave our home countries, our families and our jobs/careers. We are totally dependent on our husbands.

This is sexist as the same applies to men who follow their wives.


If I had to do it all over again, I would never have moved to Singapore. Its not easy to lose your independence. I was told by many including other wives that I could not open a bank account here in my own name.

You can. With at least HSBC, Citi and ANZ. You don't even have to be resident in SG, never mind in possession of a penis.

Out of interest if you'd 'never choose to move to SG', why are you still there?


Last edited by JR8 on Mon, 11 Apr 2011 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby x9200 » Mon, 11 Apr 2011 8:42 am

k1w1 wrote:I don't understand your question: "do you mean there are no kids at all?" (I'm only referring to couples who do not have children. Obviously the welfare of children should be a huge factor in maintenance decisions and taking care of them can impede on a parent's ability to work so the other spouse should help share this).


There could a scenario where there is no maintenance for the kids (say, at the divorce time they were out or almost out = they are adults) and I still think the spouse should be granted the maintenance for herself under some circumstances.

If a couple has no kids at all the maintenance for the spouse is more questionable but again, there are situations where I believe it should be granted.

Yes, the whole maintenance thing (both for the spouse and the children) is heavily abused but this is not a black and white situation at all.


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