In Singapore, adultery is one of the five grounds that can be used to prove a marriage has broken down irretrievably.
Here are 10 things you should know about adultery and divorce in Singapore.
1. There must be sexual intercourse
This refers only to a sexual relationship with another person who is not your spouse. If there is no sexual intercourse, you cannot rely on adultery as a ground for divorce. Instead, you may file for divorce for unreasonable behaviour based on ‘improper association.”
2. You must also show that is intolerable to live with your spouse, and it is linked to the adultery
This is usually not difficult to prove. You need to show that as a result of your spouse’s extramarital relationship, you find it intolerable to live with your spouse.
3. What evidence is required?
Usually, there will be no direct evidence of the extramarital relationship. You should engage a private investigator to collect evidence of adultery. Alternatively, you can show incriminating evidence of the relationship, or if there is a lovechild or if there is a confession made.
4. If you do not have strong evidence of adultery, you can still file for divorce based on unreasonable behaviour
You can still file for divorce by citing “improper association” if evidence of adultery is hard to come by.
5. You cannot use adultery as a reason for divorce if you continue to live with your spouse for 6 months
If you know about your spouse’s extramarital relationship, but continued to live with your spouse for 6 months, you will not be allowed to cite adultery as the ground for your divorce.
6. Do you need to name the “other person” in the divorce?
It is not necessary. We do not advise you to ‘shame’ and name the other party. You do not get a better settlement by involving the other party (see next point below).
7. You do not get a better outcome from the Court even if you prove adultery
As a general rule, the Singapore Family Justice Courts do not look at who is at fault in deciding on children, property or money issues. Therefore, if you are the defendant in an adultery case, you will not be “punished”. Likewise, if you are the plaintiff in an adultery case, you do not get a better outcome for children, property and money issues. The Singapore Courts are governed by the relevant rules in the Women’s Charter and fault is not a factor when it comes to children, property and money issues in a divorce.
8. What then can I get even if I prove adultery?
The Court may order your spouse to pay your Private Investigator fees and the costs of the divorce.
9. Can I claim anything from the “Other Party”
No, apart from legal fees and private investigator fees.
10. How common is adultery in Singapore
Between 2004 and 2014, based on data from the Singapore 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. However, this does not paint the true picture because many will cite ‘unreasonable behaviour” as the reason for divorce due to a lack of evidence or not wanting to escalate the divorce proceedings.