Adultery or infidelity in Singapore is one of the leading causes of divorce. It’s difficult for spouses to regain each other’s trust, especially if one has cheated. Adding insult to injury, adultery often occurs over extended periods without the other party knowing.
This begs the question: “Is adultery a crime in Singapore?” If your spouse has sexual relations with a third party, can it be grounds for a criminal offence? Is there a punishment for adultery in Singapore law?
Right now, many questions and emotions are probably running through your mind. Accepting the fact that your spouse has cheated on you can be difficult to swallow. Not knowing what action to take can make the situation even more convoluted.
But before doing anything, try to understand all your options. Immediately moving out of your flat or residence may be too impulsive. Instead, look into legal remedies, especially when reconciliation is out of the question.
This guide discusses adultery, its definition, possible grounds for divorce, and many more.
1. What Is Adultery?
Singapore law defines adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another individual who isn’t their spouse. Adultery alone cannot be the sole reason to divorce your spouse. However, it can serve as a legitimate reason to file a divorce based on the grounds of an irretrievable breakdown of marriage.
According to section 95(1) of the Women’s Charter, the plaintiff must prove that there is an irretrievable breakdown of marriage by providing sufficient evidence to support adultery claims. They must prove the following:
- The spouse has committed adultery
- The plaintiff can no longer live with the spouse due to unreasonable behaviour, or intolerability
- The spouse has deserted the plaintiff for two years without their knowledge.
- The spouses have been separated for three or four years with their consent.
2. Evidence To Prove Adultery
Traditionally, any sexual relationship with the opposite sex outside of the marriage is considered adultery. This is regardless of whether the third party is also married at the time of the act. However, entering into an extramarital affair with the same sex can also constitute adultery.
The plaintiff should have sufficient evidence to prove adultery. This is because Singapore Courts need definitive proof that the spouse did have consensual sexual intercourse with another person.
For instance, if you suspect your wife or husband is cheating, you may need to gather video evidence of the adultery in action. Evidence can also be in the form of incriminating text messages, recorded audio calls, video calls, etc.
In many adultery cases, however, getting enough evidence can be challenging unless the cheating spouse has explicitly admitted to the affair. Additionally, extramarital affairs are often done in secret. It is not until only after a few months whereby the plaintiff is made aware of the adultery.
If you can’t provide visual evidence of your partner engaging in sexual intercourse with another person, you may have to rely on other sources of evidence.
In such cases, you may need to hire a private investigator who can discreetly gather direct evidence of the adultery. A private investigator can collect evidence for various purposes, with one of them being spousal infidelity.
Private investigators may operate in different ways. But essentially, they will track down the suspected cheating spouse’s social media activity, phone records, credit card billings, people they interact with, etc.
With the help of an investigator, you may be able to gather the following pieces of evidence to aid in your claim:
- Pictures of the cheating spouse in intimate positions or meeting another person at a hotel
- Salacious SMS or email exchanges with another person
- Recorded phone conversations
The list is exhaustive when it comes to proving adultery. So it’s best to set expectations with your private investigator.
Since the Court’s decision will be based on your case’s specifics, you need solid proof of your cheating spouse. The existence of a lovechild, for example, is one of the most definitive proofs you can acquire. You can also consider your spouse’s confession, if any, as admissible evidence in Court.
3. Proving Adultery Without Sufficient Evidence
Suppose you’re unable to collect sufficient evidence to prove adultery. In that case, you may still file for divorce on the grounds that your husband or wife has exhibited unreasonable behaviour in the marriage. It simply means that the aggrieved spouse finds it unbearable to live in the same residence as the cheating spouse.
Generally, proving unreasonable behaviour is far easier than proving adultery. This is because the Court does not require concrete evidence of the affair. Also, many acts may fall under unreasonable behaviour:
- The defendant is physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive to the plaintiff.
- The defendant is an alcoholic and exhibits aggressive behaviour when under the influence.
- The defendant is disrespectful towards the plaintiff.
- The defendant is avoidant when confronted by the plaintiff about an affair.
- The defendant has squandered their family’s life savings on gambling and other vices.
- The defendant is fiscally irresponsible.
4. When To File For Divorce After Adultery
Ideally, you’ll want to file for divorce within six months of discovering the adulterous act. If you wait for more than this time frame before starting divorce proceedings, it can be difficult to use divorce as a basis for separation.
It’s advisable that as soon as you start suspecting adultery and considering a divorce, seek the help of a professional private investigator. You’ll need assistance to support your claim and avoid minor legal issues in the long run.
5. Punishment For Adultery In Singapore
Unfortunately, Singapore law does not criminalise adultery. This means that the police can’t charge the cheating spouse, or they are unlikely to intervene in the situation.
But, the police may intervene under different circumstances. For example, a wife suspects her husband of cheating, so he confronts her on the matter. The confrontation escalates into violence, with the wife being bruised or hurt due to her spouse’s actions.
In the situation above, the wife can contact the police to report an assault or domestic violence. After the police conduct an investigation, they may charge the abuser and take them to Court. The degree of punishment will vary depending on the nature of the offence. But, the charge will most likely fall under section 323 of the Penal Code, or “voluntarily causing hurt”.
6. Child Custody After A Spouse Has Committed Adultery
Adultery is already a complicated situation. Things can get even more nuanced if there are children in the picture.
Contrary to popular belief, the Court does not immediately grant the plaintiff custody of the children when the spouse has cheated. Instead, the Court will decide based on the children’s interests.
The situation may be different for a serial adulterer. If their acts negatively impact the welfare and well-being of the child, the Court may consider granting child custody to the more capable parent.
It’s best to remember that the Court does not consider adultery or spousal wrongdoing when deciding custody of the children. The same principle also applies to other ancillary matters, such as:
A revelation of adultery can be painful for a couple. The aggrieved partner may be blindsided by the revelation, while the cheating spouse may continually deny accusations levelled against them.
Whatever the facts of the case, victims of adultery will need ample support. If you suspect your partner has committed adultery and want to understand your legal options, call any of our divorce lawyers in Singapore.
We offer a free 30-minute consultation for first-time clients to discuss the case, legal representation, and other relevant subjects.
Frequently Asked Questions About Punishment For Adultery In Singapore
Will The Cheating Spouse Pay The Legal Fees?
Yes. If the adulterer loses the case, the Court will usually order them to shoulder the plaintiff’s legal costs. They may also need to pay for the private investigator’s fees.
Is Adultery Common In Singapore?
Yes. According to the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS), more than 2% of those who filed for a divorce between 2000 and 2014 had cited adultery as the top reason.
Is It Considered Adultery When Dating Someone Else During A Separation?
No. Separation lawyers in Singapore often state that the separated couple is considered unmarried in deeds of separation. Therefore, they’re free to see other people without being branded as adulterers.
Can You Sue For Adultery In Singapore?
Yes. If you successfully prove and sue for adultery, you may get a divorce.