Getting a divorce can be a mix of emotions. Pain, anger, sorrow, uncertainty, hope, relief: there’s no doubt it’s an emotionally difficult ordeal, especially where infidelity is involved. However, you can help make the process as smooth as possible by first familiarising yourself with how adultery is seen in the eyes of the law in Singapore.
Adultery is legally defined as voluntary extramarital sexual intercourse, both heterosexual and homosexual. Section 95(3)(a) of the Women’s Charter, which outlines the laws of monogamous relationships for men and women in Singapore, requires that you can no longer tolerate living with your spouse as a result of their adultery for it to be valid as grounds for divorce.
The law demands a high standard of proof for accusations of adultery, which means you will need more than suspicion to convince the court your spouse has been unfaithful. There are two options for proving adultery:
- A confession from your spouse
- Substantial, irrefutable evidence of infidelity including but not limited to:
- Photos and/or videos of your spouse being intimate with another person (having sex, interacting intimately or entering the same hotel room)
- Screenshots of suggestive or intimate text messages between the two
- A child born as a result of the affair
Those who aren’t able to get a confession from their spouse often choose to hire a private investigator in order to gather high quality evidence that can be used to justify the divorce.
Will I get a better outcome if I can prove adultery?
Being the victim of adultery can amplify the feeling that you have been wronged and deserve more from the divorce proceedings. Nonetheless, the courts in Singapore generally ignore who is at fault when deciding who should get what in disputes over money, property and child custody. However, your spouse may be ordered to pay for your legal fees and any expenses incurred through hiring a private investigator.
Does the third party need to appear in court?
If your partner is unfaithful to you, it’s easy to experience feelings of resentment or anger towards the person they were involved with. From a legal standpoint, however, the divorce is between you and your spouse and the third party will not necessarily need to be involved. Aside from their contribution (if any) towards the evidence against your spouse, the divorce can proceed without their participation.
Important exceptions to be aware of
Even if adultery has occurred and you have proof or your spouse’s confession, there are certain circumstances where it cannot be used as grounds for divorce:
- You and your partner have been married for less than three years
- You and your partner lived together for more than six months after you discovered the adultery
- You are not a citizen, have not lived in Singapore for at least three years nor intend to live here indefinitely
What if I can’t prove my spouse cheated?
If you can’t find proof of adultery or the court decides you have insufficient evidence, you may still be able to get a divorce using other legal grounds. Many Singaporeans choose to cite improper association with another person, which comes under the broader legal grounds of unreasonable behaviour. Improper association is typically easier to prove in court and may negate the time and cost associated with hiring a private investigator.
Things to avoid if you want to proceed with a divorce
Although you may feel tempted to give into emotion and get revenge on your partner or the person they had an affair with, it’s critical to avoid breaking the law or making any other rash decisions that may cause further legal problems. If you threaten or harm your partner or the third party in any way, you may be charged under criminal law regardless of there having been an affair. That’s why it’s crucial to carefully consider your next steps, one of which should be to hire an experienced lawyer who will help you file for divorce and argue your case in court where necessary.
At Tembusu Law, we have years of experience as family and divorce lawyers in Singapore. We understand how hard it can be for the victim, which is why we work hard to ensure you are supported throughout the process and get the best possible outcome. Contact us today to find out more.