In this series of articles, expert perspectives in clinical psychology and law are intertwined to help you on the tumultuous journey of processing your relationship story, with advice on the subsequent course of legal action.
Within this series, we will review information regarding infidelity, co-parenting, personality disorder traits in spouses, domestic abuse, expatriate divorces, child custody and various other reasons cited for divorce proceedings.
This article focuses on current statistics surrounding divorce rates in Singapore and the reasons for divorce.
The story above is just one of the thousands of individuals currently consulting with divorce lawyers, mediators, and counsellors in Singapore. According to the most recent survey released by the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS), a total of 7,623 marriages ended in divorce or annulment in 2019, indicating an increase of 3.8% from the previous year.
Furthermore, between 2015 and 2019, the annual average number of marriage dissolutions was considered higher than in previous years (DOS, 28th July 2020).
Why exactly, has there been an increase in divorcing couples?
According to DOS statistics, the period between 2004 and 2014 highlighted 1.3% to 2.1% of those who filed under the Women’s Charter citing adultery as the main reason. While infidelity will be covered in later articles, it is important to note that a myriad of factors come into play as the reason for divorce among Singaporean couples today.
In a study launched in 2002, an in-depth profile analysis was undertaken by the then Family & Juvenile Justice Centre (FJJC) of the Subordinate Courts highlighted age at marriage, increased socioeconomic status, children, age of the sample, and length of marriage (Subordinate Courts, Research Bulletin, Divorcing Couples: A Profile Analysis, September 2003, Issue No 31) as some of the profiles of divorcing couples.
The findings indicated that out of the 50 couples surveyed (100 individuals undergoing civil divorce proceedings in family court) they married younger than the average Singaporean couple (40% married by 25 years), were relatively well educated, had adequate combined household incomes with 88% working wives, were parents of very young children, couples in mid-adulthood and had been married for a decade or more.
When reasons for marital breakdown were considered, 19.1% of the sample interestingly cited communication breakdown as the top problem in their marriage rather than infidelity.
- constant quarrelling (10.1%)
- problems with in-laws or relatives (9.4%)
- infidelity/adultery (9%) and
- financial difficulties (8.6%)
The study goes on to analyse each of these factors in greater detail; however, the need for pre-marital counselling was at the forefront especially so that couples may set out expectations regarding marriage, values, family, and financial planning.
In this same vein, it is important to consult a matrimonial lawyer to determine if there is a need for a pre-nuptial agreement in order to protect financial assets acquired prior to and during the marriage.
In established long-term relationships where the couple was unhappy for a variety of reasons if one partner then cheated, it is unlikely that the couple will remain together for the long term; however, couples with more relationship satisfaction were capable of reconciling when the “hard work” of transparency, forgiveness and honesty are put in through couples’ therapy.
The extent of repair further depends on the “outside” relationship and how involved the unfaithful partner was with the other party. This is where the communication aspect of any interpersonal relationship should not be dismissed.
A solid base of any strong partnership is built on the foundation of deep and transparent discussion.
If individuals enter committed relationships with love, faith, hope, and some well thought out therapeutic and legal advice with the support of family, registered therapists, and collaborative law professionals, the result is a lasting, supportive and healthy relationship with an established support system for those days when life becomes a little more challenging.
About Author: Dr. Sharon Fernando, Managing Director at FERNA Healthcare is a registered clinical psychologist with the Singapore Psychological Society and Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society. FERNA Healthcare provides pre-marital counselling, cross-cultural pre-marital and marital counselling, couples & marital therapy, individual therapy, and legal mediation. Dr. Fernando has been living in Singapore for the past 12 years and provides forensic/legal consultations to collaborative law practices, families, and individuals throughout the island.