Unreasonable behaviour as a “ground” for divorce

To get a divorce in Singapore, you will have to prove that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Should you be able to adduce evidence that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with your spouse, the court may be persuaded that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, and thus grant a divorce.

What is Unreasonable Behavior?

While what constitutes unreasonable behavior is subjective and rather broad. Such behavior can be an act, or a failure to act, active or passive. What is essential that you cannot be reasonably expected to continue living with your spouse as a result of your spouse’s behavior.

When the court determines whether your marriage has irretrievably broken down because of unreasonable behavior, it will first look at whether you subjectively find it intolerable to live with your spouse. The court will not take into account whether or not you have reasons for having such an attitude.

The court will then look at the behavior of your spouse, including any active or passive act, or failure to act, to determine whether it is unreasonable for you to continue to live with your spouse. While these acts or failures to act must affect the marriage, it does not necessarily need to be directed towards you. Such behavior can also be directed towards family members or even people outside the family. In addition, while maliciousness on your spouse’s part does matter to the court, it is not necessary for you to show that your spouse acted the way he or she did maliciously.

Your spouse’s unreasonable behavior need not stem from a single act. The court can also make a determination that your spouse has behaved unreasonably if he or she has committed a whole series of acts that, when looked at individually, may not seem unreasonable, but when looked at cumulatively, would be unreasonable.

It should, however, be noted that it is not enough for you and your spouse to no longer have anything in common, or that you cannot communicate, or that one of you is bored with your marriage. The unreasonable behavior must go beyond merely the state of mind or state of affairs.

In addition, should the court determine that your spouse has acted unreasonably, it does not necessarily follow that your spouse is guilty of any misconduct. What the court determines during the divorce proceedings only concerns whether or not the divorce should be granted.

Examples of unreasonable behavior

While what constitutes unreasonable behavior is subjective, some examples may include (but are not limited to):

  • Domestic violence
  • Domestic abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Compulsive gambling issues
  • Constant late nights or working too many hours
  • Significant periods of deprivation of sex.


Given that there are no hard and fast rules as to what would constitute “unreasonable behavior”, should you wish to obtain a divorce founded on your spouse’s unreasonable behavior, you may wish to engage an experienced lawyer who can advise you on your divorce.

How Can We Help You

Filing for a divorce in Singapore is a delicate issue and may be too technical for you to fully understand alone. We understand that going through such an event in your life is difficult and emotional. Worry not, at I.R.B. Law; we have experienced divorce lawyers who are well versed in family law proceedings in Singapore. We will be able to guide you through the process and explain to you each and every stage of your divorce or your separation.

 Contact us today to receive advice on how your divorce proceedings can be 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. Do not hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected] or call us at +65 6298 2537 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers today.