Types of Affairs and What’s Eligible for a Divorce
The discovery that your spouse has had an affair with a person outside the marriage will undoubtedly be an earth-shattering one, where you may feel like it is no longer possible to carry on with the marriage. In the event that you decide to commence divorce proceedings and wish to make reference to your spouse’s affair, it is crucial that you are aware of how the courts approach the issue of affairs.
In Singapore, it may be useful to split affairs into 2 categories: affairs that constitute adultery and affairs that do not constitute adultery. This will help you determine what fact you may use to show the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
TYPE 1: AFFAIRS THAT CONSTITUTE ADULTERY
Your first instinct when it comes to commencing divorce proceedings may be to proceed on the fact of adultery to show that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. However, not all affairs will fulfil the narrow definition of adultery in Singapore.
Adultery is defined as:
Where the act was committed with a third party outside the marriage; and
Where the said third party is of the opposite gender to your spouse.
To use the fact of adultery, you need to be able to prove that ALL the above elements have been fulfilled. This can be a difficult task, especially as your spouse would probably go to great lengths to keep such encounter(s) from you. Sometimes, a Private Investigator may be hired as they would have the experience and expertise to procure the necessary evidence.
TYPE 2: AFFAIRS THAT DO NOT CONSTITUTE ADULTERY
Any affair that does not meet the narrow definition of adultery generally cannot be cited to fulfil the fact of adultery. Some examples include:-
Kissing and hugging
While you may be unable to use the fact of adultery, your spouse’s affair may still be relevant in showing the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In particular, you can refer to your spouse’s affair as an “improper association” under the fact of unreasonable behaviour which is also available to show the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Unlike adultery, the fact of unreasonable behaviour is not strictly defined. This means that more kinds of conduct can come within this fact, including your spouse’s affair. When determining whether the fact of unreasonable behaviour has been shown, the court will take into account both parties’ personalities and the dynamics of the marriage. As such, all you have to do is to convince the court that your spouse’s affair (amongst other examples of your spouse’s behaviour) has made it no longer reasonable for you to be expected to live with your spouse.
In closing, you can obtain a divorce from your spouse based on his/her affair by using either the fact of adultery or the fact of unreasonable behaviour. It may be wise not to dwell too long on whether to use the fact of adultery or the fact of unreasonable behaviour as both facts will achieve your eventual aim of having the marriage dissolved by the court. In any regard, do note that your spouse’s affair is unlikely to have much impact on the ancillary matters as the courts have opted to take a “no fault” approach in making their determination.
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