How to Prove Adultery for Divorce Purposes in Singapore

Last updated on March 11, 2022

Lingerie hanging off the edge of a bed, and a pair of sandals and an empty condom packet strewn across the floor.

What Must You Prove to Get a Divorce Based on the Fact of Adultery?

According to section 95(3)(a) of the Women’s Charter, a divorce can be granted, based on fact of adultery, for a marriage that is at least 3 years old. The plaintiff (i.e. the spouse filing for divorce) must prove:

  • Their spouse has committed adultery; and
  • The plaintiff finds it intolerable for him or her to live with their spouse

An adulterer cannot use evidence of his or her own adultery to file for divorce.

What Constitutes Adultery?

Conventionally, voluntary extramarital sex constitutes adultery. It is immaterial whether the third-party is married as well.

It is also possible for extramarital homosexual affairs to constitute adultery.

What Evidence Will You Need in Order to Prove Adultery?

A plaintiff who files for divorce must adduce evidence proving that adultery has taken place. To do this, he or she may secure irrefutable proof, such as video evidence of the act.

Alternatively, proving that their spouse had the inclination and opportunity to commit adultery may also be adduced as evidence. For instance, this could include photographs of the adulterers in intimate poses, or the spending of time together in a hotel. To secure such photographic/video evidence and catch a cheating spouse in the act, it may be essential for the plaintiff to engage the services of a private investigator.

Alternatively, SMSes, email exchanges or phone conversations may also be used as evidence to prove the case. Additionally, the existence of a lovechild is a pivotal piece of indirect evidence of adultery. Ultimately, the best possible proof is a confession by the defendant confessing to his or her adultery, which amounts to direct evidence of adultery.

What if you’re unable to get sufficient evidence of adultery?

If the plaintiff is unable to obtain sufficient evidence to prove that their spouse has committed adultery, the plaintiff may still file for divorce on the basis of their spouse’s “unreasonable behaviour“, i.e. that their spouse has behaved in such a way that the plaintiff cannot be reasonably expected to live with them.

The fact of unreasonable behaviour is easier to prove than adultery for the purposes of getting a divorce. This is because it is broader in scope and does not require the plaintiff to produce concrete evidence that their spouse has engaged in sexual relations with another party.

Instead, the plaintiff may be able to base their spouse’s unreasonable behaviour on the spouse’s “improper associations” with another party.

By When Must You File for Divorce on the Fact of Adultery? 

If the innocent party continues to live together with the adulterer for more than 6 months without commencing divorce proceedings, then the adultery can no longer be used as the basis for divorce. This means that you have up to 6 months from the discovery of adultery to file for divorce in Singapore on the fact of adultery.

Will You be Guaranteed Custody of Your Children If Your Spouse has Committed Adultery?

No. When deciding which spouse to award custody of the children to, the court will base its decision on the sole consideration of what will be in the children’s best interests. The court generally does not look at any wrongdoing that either spouse may be guilty of – including whether one spouse had committed adultery.

A spouse’s commission of adultery may be a relevant factor in child custody matters only if that spouse leads a life that may pose a negative influence on the children (such as because the spouse is promiscuous or a serial adulterer).

This principle that the court generally does not look at spousal wrongdoing also applies to the other ancillary matters in a divorce. In other words, the plaintiff is not guaranteed more maintenance or a higher proportion of the matrimonial assets just because their spouse has committed adultery.

Will Your Spouse be Made to Pay My Legal Fees If They Committed Adultery?

Generally, the adulterer is usually ordered to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees if they lose in the proceedings. They may also be ordered to pay the plaintiff’s costs of hiring the private investigator.

Is Adultery a Crime in Singapore? What is the Penalty for Adultery in Singapore?

No, adultery is not a criminal offence in Singapore. This means that the spouse who has committed adultery cannot be charged with an offence, jailed or fined for their acts of cheating. If you call the police on your cheating spouse, the police is unlikely to intervene.

Need to collect evidence of adultery? Use our Find a Private Investigator service to get in touch with our partnering private investigating firm. Alternatively, if you are looking for a divorce lawyer, our Find a Lawyer service will help you connect with trusted divorce lawyers in Singapore.

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  2. Getting a Divorce: How to Prove Desertion
  3. Getting a Divorce by Mutual Agreement in Singapore
  4. How to Prove Unreasonable Behaviour in a Singapore Divorce
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