You may be curious about how to prove unreasonable behaviour in divorce in Singapore. Under Section 95 of the Women’s Charter, the sole ground of divorce in Singapore is the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. This has to be supported by one of the following facts:
1. Unreasonable behaviour of your spouse and your inability to tolerate such behaviour.
2. Commission of adultery by your spouse and your inability to tolerate such behaviour.
3. Parties’ separation for a minimum period of 3 years (if both parties consent to the divorce).
4. Parties’ separation for a minimum period of 4 years (no consent of your spouse is needed).
5. Desertion by your spouse.
Examples of Unreasonable Behaviour in Singapore
Unreasonable behaviour in Singapore has a wide definition and can include passive or active actions. It can even include failure to act.
Examples of unreasonable behaviour in Singapore include:
2. Refusal to have sexual intimacy.
3. Constant belittling by one’s spouse.
It is not enough to simply show that parties are not compatible or cannot communicate.
Other than providing the Court with details and examples of your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour, you will also need to show the Court that you cannot be reasonably expected to continue living with your spouse.
How to Prove Unreasonable Behaviour in Divorce
The test of unreasonable behaviour is laid out in the case of Castello Anna Paula Cost Fusillier v Lobo Carlos Manuel Rosado. The test is whether the spouse A finds it intolerable to live with spouse B. It is a subjective test. This means that it is irrelevant whether spouse B had reasonable reasons for his/ her attitude and behaviour.
The Court will study the behaviour of spouse B (both passive and active acts) and make a decision on whether it is unreasonable to expect spouse A to continue living with spouse B. Such actions must have affected the marriage in some ways. It can however include actions towards spouse A’s family members and friends.
The Court will not focus and zoom in on individual behaviours. Rather, the focus will be on the cumulative effect of spouse B’s behaviour (for instance, if such behaviour has been for a persistently long period of time). This is important, as one-off actions may not appear serious or unreasonable but if such actions happen over a persistently long period, the cumulative effect may be intolerable.
In the case of Wong Siew Boey v Lee Boon Fatt, there were 23 paragraphs of complaints which appeared to be normal wear and tear of family if viewed individually. However, when pieced together, the Court found that there was unreasonable behaviour on the part of the spouse.
When you prove unreasonable behaviour in divorce, it is not akin to proving misconduct of your spouse. It is simply a valid reason used for supporting the sole ground of divorce in Singapore, i.e. irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The focus is on whether the unreasonable behaviour by spouse B makes it intolerable for the particular spouse in question (i.e. spouse A) to continue living with spouse B.
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