Adultery – FAQ`s by Gloria James-Civetta & Co
Adultery takes place when a married person has an extra-marital sexual relationship with another person with whom he/she is not married to whilst being married.
How is adultery defined under Singapore Law?
Under s95(3)(a) of the Women’s Charter, you have to 2 elements to prove: (a) that adultery has taken place; (b) that it is intolerable to live with the other party.
How is the fact of adultery proven? What evidence must I gather?
The standard of proof is usually high and can be proven by confession, by having direct evidence such as a Private Investigator’s report, indirect evidence or if there is a birth of a child that is not of spouse.
What happens if I do not have concrete evidence?
You may want to seek professional help from a Private Investigator (PI) or consider commencing divorce proceedings due to unreasonable behaviour / unreasonable behaviour with improper association instead of adultery. By engaging a PI, you have to be prepared for costs even higher than costs for divorce. Further there is no guarantee that the PI report will stand the test if strong evidence is not obtained. If you are not able to afford a PI, then best consider proceeding with your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour instead.
Who can commence an action for divorce based on adultery?
An adulterer cannot commence an action for divorce based on his/her own adultery. only the aggrieved spouse may commence action.
Is there a time limit on filing for divorce based on adultery?
If after finding out about the adultery, and the aggrieved party continues to live with his/her spouse for a period of 6 months, the plaintiff shall not be entitled to rely on that adultery for divorce.
What is the implication of a divorce based on adultery for a Defendant?
Firstly, the Defendant and/or the Co-Defendant shall be penalized with paying for the legal costs of the divorce proceedings and the Private Investigation costs (if any).
Secondly, children issues are decided with the welfare of the child as the main consideration. If the adultery is with multiple partners and the parent has a promiscuous lifestyle that could put the parent in a bad light and might prevent him/her from being a good parent, it may have a bearing on who gets care and control of the child.
Does the fact of adultery allow the aggrieved spouse to commence divorce immediately? Is divorce automatically granted?
You can commence divorce if you are a Singapore citizen or you have lived in Singapore for at least 3 years before commencing the divorce or are domiciled in Singapore. You have to have been married for at least 3 years. The fact of adultery has to be proven. Thus, divorce is not automatically granted, you still have to go through the divorce process.
What if I am only married for a few months or a couple of years and I find out that my spouse is cheating on me? Can I commence divorce immediately?
You cannot apply for a divorce if you have been married for less than three years unless you have the Court’s permission to do so. This means you need to take out a separate court application prior to commence divorce proceedings.
Does committing adultery compromise my position in the ancillary matters?
The courts will divide the assets under the principle of what is “just and equitable” and maintenance will decided on what the courts think is “reasonable”. The factors under the Women’s Charter have to be met by the court upon making any determination of division of assets and the award of maintenance.
Will committing adultery cause me to lose custody of my child, affect division of the matrimonial assets and the awarding of maintenance?
A parent does not lose the custodial rights over a child merely because of the adultery. In Singapore, the courts favour joint or shared custody so that both parents can partake in the major decisions of the child’s life.
What if my spouse and I have executed a Deed of Separation and I start seeing someone else? Can my spouse now allege that I have committed adultery?
If both parties agree, you can have a condition in the Deed of Separation indicating that both parties will live apart as if they were single and unmarried and that neither party can use adultery during this period of separation as grounds to commence Divorce proceedings against the other.