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Keep the current law on time bar to divorce

Contributed by EUNICE LI DAN YUE – 

Keep the current law on time bar to divorce


Current law on divorce, on separation grounds


Under our present system, the sole ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. At the same time, our law obliges that the couples must have lived in our country for 3 years prior to the marriage and have been married for at least 3 years before they are allowed to file a petition for divorce (“Shorten time bar to divorce” by the Association of Women for Action and Research; Straits Times, Oct 27).

Why the three-year time bar is necessary?


In my view, this three-year time bar is necessary, as nowadays, many of us get married too hastily, with the mistaken notion of “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”, without thinking carefully about the consequences of such an irresponsible act.

For many couples, the first year of marriage is usually the most stressful and difficult one, as they have to adjust to each other’s different living lifestyles, and sometimes even cultural differences.

Thus, the time bar will serve as a safeguard to hasty divorce, and give the couples a chance to reconcile their differences.

Without the time bar, it will be too easy for a husband to divorce his wife upon discovering that she is unexpectedly pregnant, as he is not ready to be a parent yet; and or soon after the child is born, as he found that it is too difficult to look after him.

The time bar restriction will also further “buttress the stability of marriage”; and to discourage couples from hasty divorces and remarriages. This is especially important when children are involved, as they need to grow up with the love, guidance and support of both parents rather than a single parent.

Just as Justice Choo Han Teck rightly pointed out, marriage is not an event that one can sign in and sign out as they fancy (“Court denies woman permission to divorce”; Straits Times, Oct 8).

Evidence from England and Wales

England and Wales previously had a three-year time bar on divorce which was subsequently reduced to one-year within marriage, in 1984; and they found that during the three-year time bar period, the number of divorces in their country is low compared with that of subsequent years of marriage.

In fact, divorce is a whole “process” of painful change and adjustments; rather than just a “simple day in court”; and this will have tremendous impact on all the parties involved.


Thus, it should not be encouraged in the first place.

By Eunice Li Dan Yue