Adultery 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 your spouse have committed adultery, such that you find it intolerable to live with your spouse, and you are able to adduce evidence of said adultery to the court, the court may be persuaded that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, and thus grant a divorce.

It should be stated that generally, any voluntary extramarital sex involving some penetration during the sexual encounter would constitute adultery, whether the adultery was with a person who was also married or not. This is somewhat different from the consummation of marriage, which requires ordinary and complete intercourse, as opposed to partial and imperfect sexual intercourse.

In principle, the adultery can also involve the adulterer engaging in homosexual acts, which are also likely to constitute “unreasonable behaviour” for the purposes of divorce.

It should be noted that if your spouse had been raped, your spouse has not committed adultery. In addition, should your spouse have been coerced into extramarital sex through fear or duress, the court will not consider that to be adultery.

However, the extent to which the court will not hold your spouse responsible for his/her conduct leading to extramarital sex is not unlimited. For example, should your spouse carelessly allow his or herself to become so intoxicated that he/she loses the capacity to decide whether or not to participate in extramarital sex, the court may have room to consider your spouse’s blameworthiness in determining whether or not such circumstances amount to adultery.

The courts will usually require the adulterer to pay the court fees involved should that person lose in the divorce proceedings.

How to prove adultery

Adultery can be proved if your spouse confesses to the commission of adultery. However, it is possible that your spouse will be unwilling to confess to the commission of adultery. In such circumstances, should you wish to base your divorce application on your spouse’s adultery, you may have to secure irrefutable proof of such an act, or that your spouse has an inclination and the opportunity to commit such an act.

Such evidence may, for example, include video evidence of your spouse committing the act of adultery, or photographs of your spouse in intimate contact with another person. In the alternative, correspondence in the form of text messages, email or phone conversations between your spouse and the person your spouse is committing the adultery with can also serve as evidence of adultery. Finally, the existence of a child by your spouse and another party would serve as strong evidence that your spouse has committed adultery.

Securing such evidence may be difficult, especially by yourself, and you may wish to engage the services of a private investigator to aid you with doing so.

When will adultery not serve as a “ground” for divorce?

Under section 95(5)(b) of the Women’s Charter (Cap 353), should you have continued to or be continuing to live with your spouse for a period exceeding six months after you came to be aware of your spouse’s act of adultery, you will no longer be entitled to rely on that act of adultery for the purposes of proving an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage.

In addition, should you be the person who committed adultery, you cannot rely on your own act of adultery to serve as evidence of the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage.

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 hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at +65 6589 8913 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers today.