Your partner whispers gently into your ear as you snuggle into the comforting arms of your spouse. The both of you had just gotten married and the newlywed feeling rushing through your body is ecstatic. Marrying your partner was the best thing that could have happened to you.
Fast forward the clock to 5 years later. You stare at the same bed that the two of you used to snuggle in. Living happily was never the end of the fairytale. You feel like you grew apart. You think he is seeing someone behind your back. He constantly tells you that you are worthless.
You think back to yourself. This story had an ‘ever after’ after all and that ‘ever after,’ was in the form of heartbreak and misery. You wonder if it was possible for anyone to even stay married? If you feel that your marriage has reached its tipping point due to your spouse’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and are thinking of filing for a divorce, this article is meant for you.
What Is ‘Unreasonable Behaviour’ In Singapore?
According to the most recent Statistics on Marriages and Divorces 2015 report from the Department of Statistics Singapore, 53.7 percent of people who filed for a divorce cited ‘unreasonable behaviour’ as the main reason to file for a divorce. But what is ‘unreasonable behaviour?’
Defining Unreasonable Behaviour In Singapore
‘Unreasonable behaviour’ can be defined as your spouse behaving in such a manner that it would be unreasonable to expect you to live together with them anymore.
Unreasonable behaviour’ encompasses a broad spectrum of situations. These include dire cases such as domestic abuse to minute complaints that as an isolated incident, would seem normal but deemed as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ when such incidents actively occur on a regular basis. Some examples of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ grounds for divorce in a marriage in Singapore are as stated below:
- Deprivation of sex
- Drug addiction
- Mental and/or verbal abuse
- Physical abuse
- Compulsive gambling habits
- Improper association with another person (which may or may not constitute adultery)
- Homosexual tendencies
- Refusing to take care of your children
- Lack of financial support
*This list is not a complete list, and a good divorce lawyer in Singapore will be in a better position to advise you if your situation is one of ‘unreasonable behaviour.
Assessing Unreasonable Behaviour in Singapore
It is not sufficient to show that you and your spouse are no longer incompatible for one another in the marriage. The reason cited must be something that ‘affects the other’ greatly. What this means is that their behaviour and actions must have affected you so much that it becomes unbearable for you to cohabit with your spouse. Only then can you prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
What If I Am Simply Bored With My Partner In Singapore?
In Wong Siew Boey v Lee Boon Fatt, it is not enough to say “that no longer have anything in common and cannot communicate or that one of them is bored with the marriage. It must go beyond a mere state of affairs or state of mind. It must result in a situation where the behaviour of your spouse has affected you so greatly, that living together with him or her repels you. Stating that your marriage has turned boring or that your partner snores loudly at night are not good enough justifications to file for a divorce.
The Courts will have to ascertain whether your character, personality, faults and other attributes, can reasonably be expected to live with your estranged spouse based on their respective character, personality, faults and other attributes.
Simply put, the court will place an objective determination into the subjectivity of your claims of ‘unreasonable behaviour.’ These actions must have affected the marriage in one way or another but can include behaviour towards your family members and outsiders. While it helps to be able to show malicious intent behind the actions, it is not necessary to show malice to prove ‘unreasonable behaviour.’
That being said, the Courts will also look into the cumulative effect of the behaviour over time. The reason this is done so is that a series of acts over a significant period, while taken individually may not seem grievous or unreasonable, but when viewed as a whole, your spouse’s behaviour comes off as ‘unreasonable.’
What Happens If You Accept Their Unreasonable Behaviour?
You should be reminded that if you continue to live with your spouse for 6 months or longer since the last ‘unreasonable behaviour’ that you cited, it is unlikely that the Court will consider the behaviour as being adequately ‘unreasonable.’
Advantages Of Divorce Based On ‘Unreasonable Behaviour’
As mentioned, a divorce based on ‘unreasonable behaviour’ utilises a subjective assessment. As such, the term ‘unreasonable behaviour’ can be loosely defined. What this means is that your spouse would not be required to admit to their ‘unreasonable behaviour’ that he was alleged to have done.
Adultery, on the other hand, would require for you to show to the Court evidence that your spouse has committed the act and this would involve money in hiring a private investigator, bringing them in as a witness, etc. It’s more costly and time-consuming to gather all this evidence, not to mention the arduous divorce procedures that will follow it. As such, it might be more time and cost efficient in establishing ‘unreasonable behaviour’ as proof of divorce than adultery.
Important points To Take Note Of Regarding Unreasonable Behaviour In Singapore
As there is no defined rule or standard to determine whether a particular situation would fall under ‘unreasonable behaviour,’ it would be best for you to seek an experienced Singapore family lawyer who can provide legal advice on the matter. Your spouse may have promised you a ‘happily ever after’ but just know that now, they are only your ‘once upon a time.’
Divorce due to unreasonable behaviour is a common reason for marital breakdown in Singapore. Unreasonable behaviour encompasses various actions, ranging from abuse and addiction to financial neglect and improper association. To prove unreasonable behaviour as grounds for divorce, it must significantly affect the petitioner’s well-being and make cohabitation unbearable. While subjective, the court also considers the cumulative effect of such behaviour over time. Divorcing based on unreasonable behaviour can be advantageous as it does not require the spouse to admit fault, unlike adultery, which requires concrete evidence. Seeking assistance from an experienced family lawyer is crucial during this emotionally challenging process.
Filing for a divorce and divorce procedures in Singapore are delicate issues 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.
Glossary and Key Terms
Unreasonable Behaviour: Spouse behaving in a manner making it unreasonable for the petitioner to continue living together with them.
Irretrievable Breakdown: The marriage’s breakdown to an extent where it cannot be reconciled.
Adultery: Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than their spouse.
Subjective Assessment: Evaluation based on individual perspectives and experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is unreasonable behaviour in the context of divorce?
A: Unreasonable behaviour refers to actions by a spouse that make it unreasonable for the petitioner to continue living together with them. It includes abuse, addiction, mental and verbal abuse, and financial neglect, among others.
Q: Can I file for divorce if my spouse and I have grown apart and no longer communicate?
A: In Singapore, simply growing apart or lack of communication is not sufficient grounds for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour. The behaviour must significantly affect the petitioner’s well-being, making cohabitation unbearable.
Q: Is it necessary to prove malice to establish unreasonable behaviour?
A: While proving malice can strengthen the case, it is not necessary. The court looks into the cumulative effect of the behaviour over time to determine its unreasonableness.
Q: What are the advantages of filing for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour?
A: Filing for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour is a more cost and time-efficient option compared to proving adultery, as it involves a subjective assessment and does not require concrete evidence from the spouse.