Lie Chin Chin

Proving Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage – Adultery

SUMMARY:

In order to get a divorce, you will need to prove that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. Proving that your spouse has committed adultery is one way to prove this. This article seeks to inform you about what adultery is and how you can use the fact that your spouse has committed adultery to get a divorce.
 
After establishing that you can get a divorce in Singapore, you have to prove that your marriage has broken down irretrievably in order to get a divorce. There are various ways you can prove irretrievable breakdown of marriage, and proving adultery is one such way of doing so. Do note that the spouse who commits adultery (“the Defendant”) cannot use evidence of his or her own adultery to file for divorce
 
You will have to show that the Defendant has committed adultery and that you find it intolerable to live with the Defendant. It is important to know that if you have continued staying with the Defendant for more than 6 months upon finding out that he/she has committed adultery during the course of your marriage, this may cause the Court to doubt your claim that you cannot tolerate living with your spouse due to the adultery. In such a scenario, the Court may refuse your application for divorce.
 
The Courts have a high standard of proof when it comes to proving adultery. 
 “Even in cases where there is adultery involved, it may be wiser or a better strategy to proceed under the separate fact of “unreasonable behaviour” as this is easier to prove and may save you time and costs in the long run.” 
– Lie Chin Chin “Instant Legal Protection for Your Family”, page 102 
How can I prove adultery?

The Court requires you to show evidence of the Defendant’s adultery. There are many ways to prove adultery depending on the situation, and here are a few ways to do so.

 

Direct evidence of adultery, where the Defendant confesses to committing adultery, may not be easy to obtain, but would be the best possible proof of adultery.

 

If you are able to hire a private investigator, or obtain these by yourself, you could show the Court photographic or video evidence of the Defendant in intimate positions with another person, or in compromising situations e.g. the Defendant and another person holding hands and walking into a hotel lobby, them walking out from a hotel room, or them walking in a hotel corridor towards a room, etc.

 

You could also obtain your spouse’s text messages, email exchanges or telephone conversations that indicate or point towards your spouse’s adulterous behavior, e.g. details of arranging meet ups, or the use of overly familiar or inappropriate language including terms of endearment.
Documentary evidence such as records/receipts for hotel rooms or flight tickets, or credit card bills, could also be used as evidence.

 

If you suspect that your spouse’s adultery has resulted in the birth of an illegitimate child, the DNA of that child (should you be able to obtain it) could also be used as indirect evidence of adultery.

 

Previously, a client was successful in proving adultery with the help of written testimonies. The client had managed to obtain sworn written testimonies from hotel staff who had witnessed his spouse acting intimately with another man.

It is possible that none of the aforementioned examples of evidence is individually able to form conclusive evidence of adultery. Thus, if you are seeking to prove that adultery has taken place, you should try to obtain as much evidence as possible to produce in Court.

Case Study 1 on proving adultery: 

A private investigator’s evidence will be extremely useful if you are able to obtain such services. In a past case, a husband hired two private investigators to follow his wife and monitor her actions as he was suspicious of her relationship with another man, “M”, with whom she spent much time with.

 

The private investigators followed the wife and M to the carpark at Jurong Bird Park and witnessed them in very intimate positions in various states of undress. These private investigators were called as witnesses in court and were subject to very close cross-examination. Although there were a few discrepancies between them, the core of their evidence, namely that they had witnessed the wife and M getting into a car together, parking in a carpark, being in intimate positions, and the fact that the wife and M did not have any explanation for being in the same vehicle at the carpark of Jurong Bird Park, were enough to convince the Court beyond any reasonable doubt that the wife and M had committed an act of sexual intercourse, and the wife had committed adultery.

Case Study 2 on proving adultery:

The Court can also draw an inference of adultery if the Defendant is shown to be inclined to commit adultery and that there was opportunity for the Defendant to do so. The Court stated that this method of proving adultery was allowed because direct evidence of adultery was hard to come by. However, the opportunity to commit adultery must be paired with some conduct of the Defendant and the third party which would show that they would commit adultery if given the opportunity.


This is a high threshold to cross. The Court would look very carefully for any conduct that may show an inclination to commit adultery. In one case, a Mr A filed for divorce, stating that his wife committed adultery with her colleague, “D”. Mr A argued that D and Mr A’s wife were found locked in D’s classroom on one occasion and that his wife had begun taking contraceptive pills without his knowledge.


The Court found that the contraceptive pills were indeed taken by the wife because she was not ready to have another child. However, her gynecologist was the one who started her on the pills and she started taking those pills even before she met D. Further, the wife and D gave full, comprehensive and corroborative accounts of why the classroom door was locked – they were discussing professional issues, and D always had a habit of locking his doors. An independent witness further confirmed these matters. The wife and D had also never exhibited any acts of familiarity and intimacy. The Court thus did not find the commission of any act of adultery and dismissed the application for divorce.


If you find yourself in a situation where you wish to get a divorce as you cannot stand your spouse’s adulterous behavior, you should not continue to live with your spouse as husband and wife after you discover his/her infidelity. It is advisable for you to seek the advice of an experienced and trustworthy divorce lawyer to help you through this difficult time. Your lawyer will be able to guide you on what steps you should take in order to successfully get a divorce or effect some alternative action in order for you to move on with your life.


To learn more about other grounds for divorce in Singapore, you may read about it here.

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