Women’s Charter: Grounds for Divorce in Singapore

by | Aug 13, 2020

Generally, under Singapore’s divorce law, the only possible ground for divorce is the ‘irretrievable breakdown of your marriage’. This is spelled out in the form of 5 facts set out within section 95 of the Women’s Charter. Therefore, if you can prove any one of these 5 facts, the Court will accept that there is indeed ‘irretrievable breakdown’ in your marriage.

The 5 facts within the Women’s Charter are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion of 2 years
  • Separation for 3 years with a spouse’s consent
  • Separation for 4 years

1. Adultery

Basically, the Defendant has committed adultery and the Plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the Defendant.

There must have also been a case of sexual intercourse with a third party on the part of the defendant. Otherwise, it would not be considered as adultery even in cases where there were lesser degrees of physical intimacy.

Adultery can be proven via a private investigator’s report or where there is a confession/written evidence. The divorce must then be filed within six months of discovering the act of adultery.

2. Unreasonable behaviour

In the case of unreasonable behaviour, the Defendant has behaved in such a way that the Plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Defendant.

Behaviours that have been documented in past divorce cases include violence, alcoholism, drug addiction and verbal abuse. Other examples also include:

  • Lack of interest in plaintiff’s life
  • The defendant is a spendthrift and repeatedly spent money beyond the couple’s means
  • Defendant refuses to resolve issues and continues to behave in an unreasonable manner.

3. Desertion of 2 years

The Defendant has deserted the Plaintiff for at least 2 years.

Desertion can be proven by showing that your spouse left the home and does not show any intention of carrying on with the marriage.

4. Separation for 3 years with a spouse’s consent

This is usually used by couples who want an amicable split, whereby they have lived separately continuously for a period of 3 years.

However, upon the separation of 3 years, divorce is still not automatic and papers still need to be filed in order to get a divorce with consent from both spouses.

5. Separation for 4 years

If the couple has been separated for 4 years, spouse consent to the divorce is then not required.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.