ADULTERY LAW IN SINGAPORE – 5 THINGS TO KNOW

If you continue to live with your spouse after discovering the affair and intend to rely on that adultery as the ground for divorce, you must file your divorce within 6 months. 

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husband and wife having quarrel after adultery

What is Adultery?

Adultery is defined as sexual intercourse between a spouse and a member of the opposite sex.  Any other kind of sexual activity does not count as adultery. Thus, for instance, if a married person was intimate with another person but did not have sex, it is not adultery.   The aggrieved spouse can, however, proceed to file for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour.

What are the other grounds for divorce?

Adultery is one of the five grounds to demonstrate the ‘irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. The others are unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for 3 years with consent and separation for 4 years, where consent is not needed.

Can I continue to live with my spouse and file for divorce at any time after discovering the adultery?

If you continue to live with your spouse after discovering the affair and intend to rely on that adultery as the ground for divorce, you must file your divorce within 6 months. If you wait longer than 6 months, that adultery can no longer be used as a reason for your divorce because you will be seen to have condoned it.

Does adultery affect children custody, maintenance and division of assets?

Short answer: no. The Singapore courts do not punish a person who has caused the marriage to break down for ancillary issues. For example, children custody issues, maintenance and division of assets are all considered independently and do not depend on who is at fault.

If you committed adultery, it does not affect your ability as a parent.  It also does not change the way the courts look at deciding financial issues.

Should I name and shame my spouse’s partner?

It is understandable to want to name your partner’s lover for breaking up the family.  However, this is not necessary as the Singapore divorce process aims not to cause further harm to the relationship but to repair and move on. Furthermore, since adultery does not affect financial issues and children custody, naming and shaming a third party adds to the legal costs and complicates the divorce process. Therefore, we do not recommend it, but we understand if the client is adamant about using adultery as a ground for divorce.

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