Braving the Storm – Know your Rights as an Expat Wife Going Through a Divorce

Expat wives don’t think about losing everything if they pack their bags and move to Singapore with their husbands. Expat wives have moved to Singapore with their husbands in recent years on Dependant Passes. This is a dependent pass that, as the name implies, depends on whether the husband is employed locally. These Dependant Passes allow ex-pats to stay with their spouses or children while they search for long-term employment in Singapore.

However, divorce can lead to an ex-wife being stripped of her Dependant Pass. This forces her to return to her home country. Sometimes, she will have to leave behind her children even if she is granted custody.

All this sounds very unfair to ex-pat wives, who have given up everything and are now being forced back home, away from the new lives they have worked so hard for. But, there is hope. This article is one of two parts that explain the rights of ex-pat wives when going through a Singapore divorce. Part 1 discusses the problems ex-pat women might face if they decide to move back home with their children. This article explains how ex-pat spouses can stay in Singapore if they so choose.

Understanding the workings of a Dependant’s Pass

An Employment Pass or Dependant’s pass are required to allow you to remain in Singapore as an ex-pat spouse. If you are employed in Singapore, an Employment Pass will be granted. This would allow you to stay in Singapore for as long as your work continues.

If you are granted a Dependant’s Pass for your stay in Singapore, however, there may be issues. An Employment Pass is sponsorship from a company that allows an ex-pat husband to move to Singapore with his wife. He would then sponsor his spouse and children with Dependent Passes, which are dependent on his Employment Pass. He can cancel the Employment Pass at any time. It is easy to cancel the Dependant Pass. The husband can do this online at the Ministry of Manpower website.

Losing your Dependant Pass

According to a 2016 article by The Straits Times, “getting rid of ex-pat spouses through cancelling their dependent passes has become more common.” This is particularly common when parents are trying to claim custody of the child in divorce proceedings. The husband could cancel his spouse’s Dependant Pass and gain an advantage in the custody battle by sending the spouse back to their homeland.

These cases have a devastating effect on the party that is forced to return. It seems that there is no other way than to leave behind the identity they have made here, the lives they have lived and the community they have worked so hard to belong to. In some cases, cancelling the Dependant Pass of an ex-pat spouse would mean that she had to be separated from her child.

The turning point

An ex-pat spouse would only have 30 days to apply for a work permit after her Dependant’s Pass was cancelled. Otherwise, she would be without recourse and have to leave Singapore.

A turning point came in TYC v TYD. The wife claimed that her husband had cancelled her Dependant Pass to cause her financial hardship and stress. He also wanted to have her leave Singapore with the intention of having her go to court. The wife continued to explain how her Dependant Pass cancellation was necessary for her to “Obtain de facto control and care of her child.” The court ordered the husband, in light of these facts and to ensure fairness during the trial, to reinstate and/or renew her Dependant Pass until the conclusion of the divorce proceedings, or under a court order.

This means that although it is a concern, you should not be concerned if your husband cancels your Dependant’s Pass to gain a better position during divorce proceedings. The court won’t condone the husband cancelling the Dependant Pass of an ex-pat spouse to reduce her chances of receiving custody.

The calm after a storm: exploring other ways to remain in Singapore

It is not easy to start a new life in an unfamiliar country as an ex-pat spouse. There are ways that your spouse can prevent you from having your Dependant’s Pass cancelled during divorce proceedings.

Dependant’s passes can be complicated and you should consult a family law south surrey if you need more information. It is helpful to understand the status of your case and, most importantly, what rights you have as an ex-pat spouse. Also, know when you are being taken away.

Leave a Comment