When your love life turns from a bicycle to a tricycle: Adultery in Singapore

When your love life turns from a bicycle to a tricycle: Adultery in Singapore

You enter your home earlier than you usually do. Hoping to surprise your loved one. As you enter your home, you hear laughter coming from the bedroom. Confused you quicken your pace and open the closed door. Amid the ruffled sheets, your gaze meets two familiar faces. Your best friend and your loved one! Just moments ago they were tangled in ecstasy. The smiles on their faces have long passed, and now they are scrambling to get dressed. Panic and fear begin to fill the room. You have just caught your loved one cheating.


Your mind is racing! WHY! WHEN! WHY! The signs were there, but love had blinded you. You begin to recall all those time they would pounce onto their phones once a message came in. A gently yet coy smile that would appear on their faces as they replied to it. Each time you questioned them on who sent the message the same old answer was repeated, “Work lah”. They guard their phones or email accounts with such ferocity and vigour that rivals a hungry lion guarding its antelope.


So what is adultery? In legal terms, adultery is defined as a married person who has sexual intercourse with another than his or her spouse.


According to section 95(3)(a) of the Women’s Charter, one can apply for divorce on the grounds of adultery. You must have been married for a minimum of three years, a Singapore citizen or have lived in Singapore for a least three years before proceeding with a divorce, or is domiciled in Singapore before you can apply for a divorce. If you had not been married for more than three years, you might consider filing for a legal separation as there are no prerequisites for the length of marriage or where you and your spouse are residing. It is also possible for extramarital homosexual affairs to be counted as adultery.


Between 2004 and 2014, based on data from the Department of Statistics (DOS), 1.3 per cent to 2.1 per cent of those who filed for divorce under the Women’s Charter cited adultery as the main reason.


There are two aspects of adultery that you will have to prove to the court of law, and they are:


    • adultery has taken place; and
    • that it is intolerable to live with your spouse because of the adultery

If these two conditions are met, it would indicate that your marriage has irretrievably broken down and you can file for divorce.


(i) Proving Adultery Has Taken Place

Proving that adultery has occurred usually relies on direct and circumstantial evidence of your spouse having the intent and opportunity to commit the act, this is usually substantiated by evidence as shown below:


  • 1) Confession
    1. A Confession would amounts to direct evidence of adultery in the Court of Law and is the best possible proof that your spouse has committed adultery if he or she confesses to it. It must be noted that an adulterer cannot use evidence of their own adultery to file for divorce. It is unlikely that your spouse would come out and openly say that he or she has been cheating on you. As such, other forms of indirect evidence can be used to prove your spouse’s adultery.
  • 2) Visual Evidence
    1. Photographs and videos of your spouse engaging in sexual intercourse with a third party can be used to incriminate them and be used in the Court of Law as evidence of adultery. Evidence of this nature might be difficult to obtain. You can obtain these videos and images by hiring a Private Investigator (PI).
  • 3) Text Messages, Emails, Letters & Phone Calls
    1. Text messages, email correspondence, letters and phone call recordings can be used to incriminate your partner as having committed adultery. However, you must be aware of several things when using digital evidence as proof.
    1. You will need to authenticate the evidence before presenting it to a Court of Law by proving that your partner was the one who wrote the message. Some ways you can do this is by getting your partner to agree that they had sent out the message or eyewitnesses (if any) to authenticate the validity of the message. The reason why you need to authenticate the validity of the messages is that your spouse can claim that his mobile phone or computer had been tampered with. Due to this, a Court of Law may be reluctant to use this digital evidence as evidence, even if it came directly from your spouse’s mobile device or computer.
  • 4) Testimonies
    1. You can also prove your spouse’s adultery by getting written testimonies from people who might have witnessed your partner behaving intimately with a third party. This can include testimonies from a hotel or restaurant staff or even mutual friends that may have caught them in the act.
    1. What is important is that adultery can be proven indirectly by showing that there was an opportunity for your spouse to have committed sexual intercourse or in the company of someone to participate in sexual relations under the given circumstances.
  • 5) Records
    1. Similar to a written testimony, any recorded material such as hotel receipts, credit card bills, travel records can be used as evidence to incriminate your partner for adultery. As long as there is an opportunity for your spouse to have committed adultery, these records can be used to against him or her in Court.
  • 6) Love Child
    1. If there is an illegitimate child between your partner and the third party, it can be used as evidence for adultery, and you can file a divorce suit.


(ii) Intolerable to Live With Your Spouse
Alongside having to prove that your spouse had committed adultery, you will also need to prove that it has become intolerable to now live alongside your spouse to the Court. This is usually not hard to prove as you will only be required to show that as a result of your spouse’s ex-marital affair, it has become extremely unbearable for you to now live under the same roof as your spouse. A good divorce lawyer in Singapore can assist you in proving this.


It must be noted that if you had known of your spouse’s ex-marital relationship for more than six months but still continued to live with your partner, you will not be able to cite adultery as a reason to divorce your spouse later on.

What if I Can’t Prove That Adultery Has Taken Place

In the event you cannot find concrete evidence to prove that your partner has committed adultery, fret not, you can still file for a divorce under the grounds of unreasonable behaviour for improper association. As long as you have strong reason to believe that your spouse is engaging an intimate relationship with a third party.

Implication of Divorce by Adultery

Your spouse as a Defendant and/or the Co-Defendant may be penalised with the burden of paying the legal fees of the divorce proceedings and any Private Investigations costs that you may have incurred. However it is worth nothing that should your claim that your spouse had committed adultery fails, you may be liable for your spouses’ legal fees instead.


Also, the Court will not look at who is at fault when deciding matters of property, money and children. Even if you are the ‘guilty’ party, you will not be ‘punished’ for being unfaithful. That would also mean that even if you are the one that was cheated on, it is not a given that you will gain custody over your child or property.


This is especially so when trying to obtain custody over your child. If you can prove that your partner leads an immoral lifestyle or behaves in a way that is unbecoming of a suitable parent, the Courts will take into account all these facts in awarding custody of the child to the more able parent.

How Can We Help You

That being said, the steps on how to file for a divorce and divorce procedures in Singapore are delicate issues and may be technical and complex for you to fully understand alone. Worry not, at I.R.B. Law; we have experienced lawyers who are well versed in Singapore Family Law proceedings. We will be able to guide you through and explain to you throughout each and every stage of your divorce or your annulment. We understand that going through such an event in your life is difficult and emotional.


So contact us to receive advice on how your divorce proceedings can be best handled so that you can focus on getting back up on your feet. Our first consultation is usually free as we wish to focus on you and not on your wallet. So don’t hesitate and reach us at hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at 6298 2537 and schedule an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers today.