When filing for divorce in Singapore, there is only one ground for divorce – being that the marriage had irretrievably broken down.

In accordance to the Women’s Charter, the Court will not find an irretrievable breakdown of marriage unless he or she is able to prove one or more of the five facts required by statute. The aforementioned facts are the following: Adultery, Unreasonable behaviour, Desertion, and Living Apart (Factual Separation and Mental Attitude).

In this article, we will be exploring Adultery.

What is the meaning of Adultery?

Adultery is said to mean a married person that voluntarily engages in sexual intercourse with anyone other than his or her spouse.

Proof of Adultery

Adultery is established through direct and indirect evidence.

  • Direct evidence; and
  • Indirect evidence

Direct evidence can include a confession by the defendant. Corroboration would be needed. Examples of direct evidence include eyewitness’s evidence, private investigator reports, and the like.

Indirect evidence includes proof of disposition and opportunity, as well as birth of a child not of the other spouse. Adultery must be proven beyond reasonable doubt by the party alleging adultery, through strong inclination and disposition, and evidence to commit adultery (Tan Meng Heok v Tay Mui Keow [1992] SGHC 218). A form of indirect evidence can be the wife giving birth to a child that is not of the husband or another woman giving birth to a child, fathered by the husband.

To constitute adultery, the sexual encounter must have been both voluntary and consensual. Adultery has not occurred where the defendant was forced to do so through fear or duress or raped. However, depending on the circumstances of the case, the Court may have to hold the defendant responsible for the consequences of their conduct.

A defendant may confess to the commission of adultery. A witness to the commission of adultery can testify to it. This would be as direct evidence as the defendant’s confession. The Court can find that the defendant had committed adultery on indirect and/or purely circumstantial situations.

Proof of ‘Intolerability’

In order to argue adultery in order to prove an irretrievable breakdown of marriage, it is necessary to not only prove that adultery has been committed but also that the plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the defendant.

This would be a subjective determination as to whether the plaintiff finds it intolerable. Thus, it is immaterial whether a reasonable person would find the adultery intolerable.

However, the plaintiff is unable to rely on adultery as proof of an irretrievable breakdown of marriage where they had knowledge of the commission yet cohabited with the defendant for period that exceed six months overall. The plaintiff would then no longer have a case to plead the irretrievable breakdown of his or her marriage.

Where you might require more advice and consultancy about your case and the legal procedures, it is ideal to consult a lawyer for guidance and representation. Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences to high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

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