Everyone enters a marriage with the intention of staying with his or her other half for the rest of their life, divorce is almost always the last thing on their minds. Nonetheless, when a marriage fails and you want to get out of that tough situation, you would need to engage a suitably qualified divorce lawyer. A good divorce lawyer is someone who can help you navigate the complexities of the divorce procedure in Singapore, represent your best interests and obtain the most favourable result for you.
The financial cost of a divorce is no doubt one of an important consideration in engaging the best divorce lawyer for one’s circumstances. As much as a couple may desire to minimize their legal expenditure, the cost of hiring a family lawyer is ultimately dependent on whether both spouse can get to agree on the terms of terminating a marriage.
That said, the cost to hiring a good divorce lawyer is determined firstly by whether the divorce is an uncontested or contested process. Secondly, it is based on the level of expertise, experience, reputation and other key qualities offered by the divorce lawyer or legal firm in Singapore.
In the case of uncontested divorce, lawyer fees are chargeable at a less costly fixed structured fee. Given that both parties have already agreed on the terms of divorce regarding decisions such as the division of matrimonial asset and custody of children, the divorce process is less contentious and more straight-forward. The lawyer’s main role is to ensure that requisite legal forms and documents are filed and approved by Court as well as to provide sound legal advice and emotion support to the couple.
The fixed free arrangement would typically consist of the general components listed below. The respectively price listed aside the components serves as a basic guideline to the prevailing fixed nett fee that a law firm in the current market is charging.
- Service fee (S$1,357.40)
- Filing cost and Court fees (S$254.60)
- Commissioning fees (S$20.00)
- Photocopying, Postage and other Miscellaneous fees (S$18.00)
- Any GST (7%)
These fees would also include consultation fees for the time spent by the family lawyer when meeting the client to gather information about the case.
In addition, a higher fixed fee sum is imposed for couples who require to file parenting and property documents as compared to who do not have such commitments. Chargeable add-ons fees for extra work that needs to be done by the lawyer, such as communicating with HDB or other authorities (eg. Central Provident Fund Board) may also applied separately on top of the fixed fee arrangement.
Going through an uncontested divorce is the most affordable way of hiring a good divorce lawyer in Singapore. Not only does it provide a predictive benchmark to the overall divorce cost, it offers the couple with a substantial amount of savings as compared to a contested divorce.
In the case whereby both parties are unable to reach a satisfactory agreement between themselves, they would then have to proceed to a contested divorce, which would accrue a much higher spending based on the hourly billing structure.
Couples who are unsure of the magnitude of legal costs needed can consult divorce lawyers who may advise couples on an estimated figure to pay based on the case scenario. Many of the divorce law firms in Singapore offer free first consultations limited to certain duration. At the free trial, the family lawyer will review the case and provide consultative advice on the potential legal issues involved.
Should both couple and lawyer decide to take up the divorce case, the law firm would start charging the hourly divorce fees for the time spent. This consists of the hours spent by the lawyer on consultation, research, drafting court documents, negotiating with the other side and appearing in court should the couple decide to engage them. The hourly rate for this billing varies widely depending on the profile and experience of the attorney lawyer. Generally, the range lies within a couple hundred per hour and would probably amount to a few thousand hours depending on complexity and level of contentiousness of the case. Cooperation between spouses and hiring an efficient and experienced lawyer will likely speed up the process and reduce the total cost of hiring a divorce lawyer.
Lastly, apart from just the hourly billing for legal fees, couples contemplating on a divorce should also consider any additional charges that is billed to the case. This could be a sum including any filing fees, court fees, commissioning fees, bankruptcy search fees, photocopying and stationery fees as well as transport fees that is spent for the purposes of handling the divorce case.