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DIVORCE – PROVING ADULTERY IN SINGAPORE

In Singapore, adultery is one of the five grounds that can be used to prove a marriage has broken down irretrievably.

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PKWA Divorce Lawyers - article on adultery

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Divorce – Proving Adultery in Singapore

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According to the statistics on marriages and divorce for 2018 compiled by the Singapore Department of Statistics, wives initiated the majority of civil divorces in 2018 (63.6 per cent).

“Unreasonable behaviour” of the spouse was cited as the top main reason for divorce by 59.5 per cent of wives in 2018 while having “lived apart or separated for three years or more” was the top main reason for 52.1 per cent of husbands.

In 2018, “Infidelity or extra-marital affair” was the top main cause of marriage breakdown cited by both husbands (23.8 per cent) and wives (20.8 per cent). This was followed by “Desertion” for husbands (10.5 per cent) and “Financial problems” for wives (13.4 per cent).

In Singapore, adultery is one of the five grounds that can be used to prove a marriage has broken down irretrievably.

To rely on adultery as a ground for divorce in Singapore, here are some things you should know:

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1. There must be sexual intercourse

Under section 95(3)(a) of the Women’s Charter, you can rely on adultery as a ground for divorce.  Adultery refers only to sexual relationship with another person who is not your spouse.   If there is no sexual intercourse, you cannot rely on adultery as a ground for divorce.  Instead, you may file for divorce for unreasonable behaviour based on ‘improper association.”

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2. You must also show that it is intolerable to live with your spouse, and it is linked to the adultery

You need to show that you find it intolerable to live with your spouse as a result of your spouse’s extramarital relationship.   This is easy to prove because it should follow that your spouse’s extra marital relationship has made it intolerable for you to live with him/her.

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3.  The evidence required to prove adultery

Normally, there will be no direct evidence of the extramarital relationship. You should engage a private investigator to collect evidence of adultery. Alternatively, you can show incriminating evidence of the relationship such as SMS, emails, a confession, or a lovechild or if there is a confession made.

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4. If you have no evidence of adultery, you can still file for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour

It is quite common if you are not able to find any incriminating evidence. This does not mean that you cannot file for divorce.   You can still file for divorce by citing “improper association” if evidence of adultery is hard to come by.

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5. You cannot use adultery as a reason for divorce if you continue to live with your spouse for 6 months  

If you knew about your spouse’s extramarital relationship, but continued to live with your spouse for 6 months, you will not be allowed to cite adultery as the ground for your divorce. The law deems that you have’ forgiven’ your spouse by not filing for divorce within 6 months. This is yet another reason why it is more common to divorce based on unreasonable behaviour. Very often, the innocent party ‘forgives’ the cheating spouse, only to find six months later that nothing has changed.   The innocent spouse can no longer rely on that act of past adultery but has to rely on unreasonable behaviour instead.

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6.  Is it necessary to name the “other person” in the divorce?

 It is legally not necessary to identify the co-adulterer in the divorce papers.  However, spouses may feel betrayed and insist on naming the other party.

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7.   You don’t get more assets or more maintenance even if your spouse commits adultery

As a general rule, ancillary issues in a divorce are not based on fault.  The Singapore Family Justice Courts do not look at who is at fault in deciding on children, property or money issues. Therefore, if you are the defendant in an adultery case, you will not be “penalised”. Likewise, if you are the plaintiff in an adultery case, you do not get a better outcome for children, property and money issues. The relevant rules govern the Singapore Courts in the Women’s Charter, and fault is not a factor for children, property and money issues in a divorce.

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8. What then can I get even if I prove adultery?

The Court may order your spouse to pay your Private Investigator fees and the costs of the divorce.

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9. Can I claim anything from the “Other Party”

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No, apart from legal fees and private investigator fees.  This may amount to several thousand dollars.

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RELATED ARTICLES:

Contested Divorce v Uncontested Divorce .

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ABOUT PKWA LAW

PKWA Divorce Lawyers in Singapore

At PKWA Law, our Family Lawyers team is consistently named as leading Singapore divorce lawyers by respected independent legal publications such as Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review, Global Law Experts and Doyle’s Guide to Singapore Family Lawyers. 

We offer a free consultation for all divorce enquiries.  Should you have any questions regarding adultery & divorce in Singapore, please contact us.

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