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What Is Considered Adultery In Divorce? 7 Key Facts [2023]

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In Singapore, adultery can be used as a reason for divorce if one can prove that their spouse has been unfaithful during the marriage. Adultery can affect matters such as dividing assets, spousal maintenance, and custody of any children.

If you are considering divorcing a cheating spouse, you must first need to understand what is considered adultery in Singaporean law. 

This article explores seven facts about divorce based on adultery in Singapore, from legal definition and burden of proof to the time limit for divorce filing. 

1. Sexual Intercourse Outside Of Marriage

Adultery, based on the Women’s Charter in Singapore, refers to a specific ground for divorce in the context of family law. It is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not their spouse while the marriage is still subsisting. 

In simpler terms, adultery occurs when a married individual engages in sexual relations with another person who is not their legal spouse during the course of the marriage. Under Singaporean law, adultery is one of the five facts that can be used as grounds for divorce. 

If you cannot prove adultery, the alternative grounds can be unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation with consent, and separation without consent.

2. Strict Burden Of Proof

To establish adultery in Court, the burden of proof lies with the party alleging the affair. This means that the individual making the adultery claim must provide credible and compelling evidence to demonstrate that the sexual intercourse occurred. 

Proving infidelity can be challenging, as it typically requires concrete evidence to substantiate the claim. It’s essential to ensure that any evidence collected is admissible in Court. This includes eyewitness testimony, text messages, and reports from private detectives. The Court does not accept hearsay statements and illegally obtained evidence.

Here are four common ways to gather evidence to prove adultery in Singapore:

A Private Investigator

Hiring a licensed private investigator is a standard method used to gather evidence of adultery. Private investigators can conduct surveillance and gather photographs, videos, and witness statements to document the adulterous behaviour. They ensure that evidence is admissible and is collected legally.

Text Messages And Emails

Adulterous behaviour can sometimes be documented through text messages, emails, or other electronic communications. Electronic correspondence may reveal incriminating evidence, such as messages between the unfaithful spouse and their lover.

Witness Testimonies

Witnesses who have firsthand knowledge of adulterous behaviour can provide testimonies in Court. These witnesses could be individuals who have seen the spouses together in compromising situations or who can confirm the extramarital relationship.

Admissions Or Confessions

It is rare for an unfaithful spouse to admit to an affair. However, the Court accepts confessions either privately or in writing. Such admissions or confessions can help with establishing the case. This can result in a more amicable and swifter resolution.

3. Filing A Writ Of Divorce

The Writ of Divorce is a formal and comprehensive legal document that serves as the initial pleading in the case. Filing a Writ of Divorce in Singapore is a pivotal step in initiating divorce proceedings. The process begins with the petitioner, who can be either the husband or the wife, engaging the services of a qualified family lawyer

This legal professional plays a crucial role in guiding the petitioner through the process, ensuring that all necessary documents are prepared accurately, and representing the petitioner’s interests throughout the divorce proceedings.

When adultery is alleged, the plaintiff must provide specific details about the alleged misconduct. This includes specifying the time frame during which the adultery is believed to have occurred, identifying the locations or places where the adulterous acts allegedly took place, and, if known, naming the person involved in the affair. 

These details are essential for establishing the grounds for divorce, meeting legal requirements, and potentially serving as a basis for collecting and presenting evidence during the proceedings.

4. Adultery Is Not A Crime In Singapore 

Adultery itself is not a criminal offence in Singapore. The penalty for committing adultery in Singapore is not a criminal one. Still, it falls under the purview of family law and can have an impact on divorce proceedings.

For example, suppose a parent’s extramarital affair negatively affects their ability to provide a stable and supportive environment for the child. In that case, the Court may grant custody to the other parent or impose restrictions on visitation.

The Court may also consider ordering the cheating spouse to contribute to the legal fees of the innocent spouse in certain circumstances, but it is not a guarantee and such orders are made at the Court’s discretion. The Court’s decision will be based on the specific circumstances of the case and the financial positions of the parties involved.

It’s important to note that the specific outcomes and penalties related to adultery in divorce cases can vary depending on the circumstances of each case and the decisions made by the Court.

5. When To File Divorce Based On Adultery In Singapore?

According to Women’s Charter 95(5)(b), a divorce on the grounds of adultery must be filed within six months after catching a cheating spouse. It is crucial to adhere to this legal requirement to ensure the validity of your divorce claim.

This legal requirement emphasises the importance of timely action to ensure the validity of your divorce claim. If you continue to live with your unfaithful spouse for more than six months without filing for divorce, you may lose the option to use adultery as a basis for divorce. 

This time limit is in place to prevent spouses from using old incidents of adultery as a basis for divorce, encouraging prompt resolution of such cases.

6. Counselling And Mediation

Singapore’s divorce process places a strong emphasis on reconciliation and conflict resolution. Before the Court proceeds with a divorce case, both spouses, including the one alleging adultery, may be required to attend counselling or mediation sessions. 

This mandatory step is aimed at exploring the possibility of reconciliation and resolving issues amicably. Even if adultery is the grounds for divorce, the Court encourages spouses to consider alternative solutions and aims to minimise acrimony. 

The counselling and mediation process allows couples to discuss their differences and explore whether the marriage can be saved, which aligns with Singapore’s commitment to preserving marriages when possible.

7. Contested Vs. Uncontested Divorce

The outcome of a divorce case in Singapore can vary depending on your spouse’s response to the divorce petition. If your spouse admits to the adultery and agrees to the divorce, it can proceed as an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are usually faster and less costly because both parties have reached an agreement. 

However, if your spouse contests the divorce or denies the adultery allegation, it can become a contested divorce. Contested divorces are usually more complex and time-consuming, as they involve legal proceedings to resolve disputes, such as marital property division, child custody, and spouse maintenance.

The willingness of your spouse to cooperate or contest the divorce can significantly impact the divorce process and its duration.

Conclusion About Divorce Based On Adultery

Divorce based on adultery is a complex and emotionally charged process. In Singapore, as in many jurisdictions, it is one of the recognised grounds for ending a marriage. While infidelity itself is not a criminal offence, it holds significant implications in the context of divorce proceedings.

Proving adultery can be challenging, and it often requires concrete evidence to substantiate the claim. It’s important to note that gathering evidence must be done carefully and within the boundaries of the law. 

If you are considering engaging a qualified private detective in Singapore, don’t hesitate to reach out to CatchCheating. Our licensed private investigators are experienced in matrimonial cases and surveillance. We ensure that the evidence collected is admissible in Court and that the legal process is followed correctly when proving adultery as a ground for divorce.

Frequently Asked About Divorce Based On Adultery

Can I File For Divorce Based On Adultery If My Spouse Had A One-Time Affair, Or Does It Need To Be A Repeated Pattern Of Behaviour?

The Women’s Charter does not specify a particular number of instances of adultery. As long as you can provide evidence of voluntary sexual intercourse outside of marriage, a single occurrence may be sufficient grounds for divorce.

Are There Alternatives To Divorce For Couples Facing Adultery-Related Issues In Their Marriage?

Yes, couples may explore alternatives such as separation, counselling, or legal separation agreements. These options can provide space for reflection and potential reconciliation efforts.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Spouse Of Adultery?

If you suspect adultery, it’s advisable to consult with a lawyer or a private investigator who can provide guidance on gathering evidence and navigating the legal process if you decide to pursue a divorce based on adultery.

How To Choose A Private Investigator In Singapore?

Start by verifying their licensing and credentials. Ensure they are registered and licensed with the appropriate authorities in Singapore. Additionally, consider their experience, specialisation, and track record by requesting references and reading reviews from previous clients. 

A thorough discussion about your case, including their approach and expected outcomes, can also help you assess their suitability for your specific needs. Finally, inquire about their fee structure and any associated costs to make an informed decision.

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