The Singapore law on grounds for divorce
Under Singapore law, a divorce may only be granted when there is ‘irrevocable breakdown of marriage’. This is actually also the only ground for divorce in Singapore. Elements such as ‘unreasonable behavior’ and ‘adultery’, contrary to popular belief, are not grounds for divorce, but more accurately the conditions leading to ‘irrevocable breakdown of marriage’.
Proving that a marriage has irrevocably broken down – Grounds for divorce
To prove that a marriage has irrevocably broken down and for a divorce to get granted in Singapore, the plaintiff (the person applying for a divorce) has to prove one of the following.
Adultery has been committed
The plaintiff may apply for a divorce under adultery if he or she is able to prove that adultery has been committed, and that he or she finds it intolerable to stay with his or her spouse. Gathering concrete evidence to prove an adultery, though, may be difficult. One may consider engaging the services of a professional private investigator. That being said, concrete evidence may not be possible even with the help of private investigators. In such cases, one may consider applying for a divorce under unreasonable behavior (see next point).
There is unreasonable behavior of the other party
One may apply for a divorce if he or she is able to prove that his or her spouse has behaved in such a way that it is impossible to continue staying with him or her. What may be considered unreasonable behavior is often subjective, meaning a number of things may be deemed unreasonable behavior (see examples below). This is also why unreasonable behavior is often cited as the basis for divorce.
Examples of unreasonable may include:
- Frequently staying out late and away from home
- Physical abuse
- Unwillingness to interact
- Drug abuse
- Addiction to gambling
- Unwillingness to have sex
- Long working hours leading to detrimental relationships
Since many elements may be considered unreasonable behavior, many divorces where adultery has been committed but hard to prove may also use this as the basis for the divorce.
If the plaintiff is able to prove that he or she has been deserted for a period of 2 years or more, a divorce may be granted. There should be proof that the plaintiff has been living separately from his or her spouse, and that the spouse has the intention to desert. The latter may be proved by showing that the spouse has no intention of coming back.
Separation for a minimum of 3 years
Under the basis of separation, a divorce may be granted if the spouses have been living separately for a minimum of 3 years, and that both parties agree to the divorce. A deed of separation may be used to prove the case. The separation must also be due to a choice decision rather than necessity (the parties involved choose to stay apart rather than because of job requirements etc).
For separations for a minimum of 4 years, the plaintiff may go through with divorce without consent from the defendant.