Infidelity, also known as adultery, is an emotionally charged issue with wide-reaching implications in personal relationships, societal norms, and legal frameworks. When it comes to Singapore, a country known for its stringent laws and regulations, there often arises a question – Is infidelity considered a crime?
This article will explore the legal perspectives on infidelity in Singapore, aiming to understand the subject comprehensively.
The History Of Infidelity In Singapore
Singapore, originally a British colony, inherited much of its legal system from the British. This included laws regarding family matters and marital affairs. Infidelity, or adultery, was considered morally repugnant under British law but wasn’t criminally penalised unless it was egregious enough to disturb public order or morality.
Infidelity was never a criminal offence in independent Singapore. However, it held significant consequences in civil law, particularly concerning divorce proceedings. The Women’s Charter, enacted in 1961, allows a spouse to file for divorce based on the grounds of the other spouse’s adultery. This was a transformative move that recognised infidelity as a legitimate reason for the dissolution of a marriage.
1. Decriminalisation Of Adultery
As per the current legal framework in Singapore, infidelity is not considered a crime. The state decriminalised adultery long ago, thereby refraining from penalising extramarital affairs. While societal attitudes towards infidelity have evolved with changing social norms, the legal position remains unchanged. Infidelity in Singapore is not a crime but can form grounds for divorce if adequately substantiated.
This evolution underscores Singapore’s approach to keeping the state separate from the private affairs of individuals while also ensuring legal recourse for those wronged in their marital relationships.
2. Infidelity And Divorce
Although not a criminal offence, adultery plays a significant role in marital disputes and divorce cases. If proven, adultery can serve as a ground for divorce under the Women’s Charter in Singapore. In any legal setting, the burden of proof is the obligation to present evidence to the court to prove a fact or set of facts.
In the context of divorce proceedings in Singapore, if a spouse is filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery, they bear the burden of proof. This means it’s their responsibility to provide evidence demonstrating their spouse’s infidelity.
3. Proof Of Adultery
To establish adultery as a cause for divorce, the petitioner must provide strong evidence that their spouse has been unfaithful. The burden of proof needed to establish adultery is relatively high. The court requires clear and compelling evidence to support the claim. This could be direct evidence, such as photographs, text messages, or emails, that suggest a romantic or sexual relationship outside the marriage. Eyewitness accounts, although rare, could also be used.
4. Adultery and Division Of Matrimonial Assets
In Singapore, a court will determine the division of marital assets during a divorce, which considers various factors to ensure a just and equitable distribution. These factors include the financial contributions made by each party towards acquiring assets, contributions to the family’s well-being, such as homemaking and taking care of children, and any assistance from one party to the other for their education or career.
While infidelity might influence the court’s decision, it is not a primary determinant. The court places a greater emphasis on each party’s contribution to the assets.
5. Impact On Child Custody
In Singapore, the court’s paramount consideration in deciding child custody cases is the child’s welfare. This principle is enshrined in the Women’s Charter, which guides family law in the country. When it comes to the impact of infidelity on child custody, the primary concern is not the act of infidelity itself but how the child’s welfare may be affected by it. If the infidelity has resulted in circumstances that directly harm the child’s emotional, psychological, or physical well-being, it could influence the court’s decision.
For instance, if the unfaithful spouse’s new partner negatively impacts the child’s well-being, it might sway the court’s decision. Similarly, suppose the adulterous relationship has resulted in neglect or emotional distress for the child. In that case, the court may consider it.
6. Societal Implications Of Infidelity In Singapore
Infidelity, even in contemporary societies, carries a significant social stigma. The stigma attached to infidelity is substantial in Singapore, a culturally diverse nation influenced by a mix of Eastern and Western values. Adultery is generally viewed as a breach of trust and violation of the sanctity of marriage, leading to societal disapproval and often ostracism.
The spouse who has been cheated on often experiences betrayal, hurt, anger, and sometimes even guilt. It can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and lowered self-esteem. For children, discovering a parent’s infidelity can be particularly distressing. It can disrupt their sense of stability and trust, leading to fear of commitment, trust issues, and emotional distress in their future relationships.
Prevalence And Trends In Infidelity
Accurate statistics on infidelity are challenging to obtain due to the private nature of the issue. However, data from divorce filings provide some insights. According to the Singapore Department of Statistics, in recent years, an increasing number of divorce cases cited infidelity as a reason for the dissolution of marriage.
Moreover, anecdotal evidence from marital counsellors and lawyers suggests a rising trend in extramarital affairs. It’s important to note that these figures likely underestimate the true prevalence of infidelity, as not all cases result in divorce or are even discovered.
Factors Contributing To Infidelity
Several factors contribute to infidelity in Singapore. Changes in societal norms, increased opportunities for interactions with the opposite sex in the workplace, and the ease of connecting with others through social media and online platforms are all believed to play a role. Factors such as dissatisfaction in the marriage, lack of emotional or sexual fulfilment, and the thrill of novelty can also contribute to infidelity.
Changing Trends and Attitudes Towards Infidelity
Attitudes towards infidelity in Singapore are complex and are influenced by a mix of traditional and modern beliefs. While strong societal disapproval of infidelity is rooted in traditional values, some modern influences suggest a slight relaxation in attitudes, especially among younger generations. The influence of Western media, the increasing individualism, and the shift in gender roles may contribute to these changing attitudes.
Conclusion On Infidelity In Singapore
In Singapore, infidelity is not a criminal offence, but it carries considerable weight in divorce proceedings. It can serve as a ground for divorce and possibly indirectly influence the division of assets and child custody. Therefore, while the law doesn’t penalise extramarital affairs, the repercussions can be significant in family law.
If you are starting to develop doubts with your partner, try to have open communication lines between you two. Try to express your concerns and listen. However, if you see signs of infidelity, you may also try to speak with a private investigator to seek answers and find information.
In the end, while laws and societal norms provide a framework, the health and longevity of a relationship often depend on the actions and choices of the individuals involved. It’s a gentle reminder to us all to cherish and take care of our relationships, recognising their value not just legally or socially but, more importantly, emotionally and personally.
Frequently Asked Questions About Infidelity In Singapore
Is A Confession From The Unfaithful Spouse Sufficient Proof Of Adultery In Court?
A confession can be part of the evidence, but it’s usually not sufficient. It’s generally recommended to have additional corroborating evidence to substantiate the claim of adultery.
What Is Considered Proof Of Adultery In A Court Of Law In Singapore?
The petitioner must provide direct or circumstantial evidence to prove adultery. This could include photographs, texts, emails, or eyewitness accounts of the spouse’s infidelity.
Does The “Guilty” Party Receive Less In Asset Division Due To Infidelity?
The division of assets in Singapore is primarily based on the contribution of each party to the marriage, including financial contribution, homemaking, and child-rearing efforts. While adultery can influence the court’s decision, it is not a decisive factor.
Does Infidelity Affect Child Custody Decisions In Singapore?
The court’s primary concern in child custody cases is the child’s welfare. If adultery impacts the child’s interest, it could influence the custody decision. However, infidelity is not a direct factor in determining custody rights.