Unreasonable Behaviour Divorce
Written by Mr Salem Ibrahim, Salem Ibrahim LLC
Divorce based on Unreasonable Behaviour
In Singapore, there is only one ground for a divorce. The ground is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. It is not enough to simply seek a divorce citing this sole ground.
There are 5 factual of situations for which this sole ground for divorce is deemed to be satisfied. The factual situations are adultery, separation for 3 years with consent, separation for 4 years without consent, desertion, and unreasonable behaviour such that one spouse cannot be expected to continue to live with the other. Let us focus on a divorce based on unreasonable behaviour.
It is important to understand what constitutes “unreasonable behaviour” in the eyes of the court. The following behaviour may be considered unreasonable:
- drug addiction
- compulsive gambling habits
- deprivation of sex
- physical, mental or verbal abuse,
- intimate associations with other party/ies outside of the marriage
- refusing to assist with expenses
- refusing to take part in the care of the children
- neglecting the other spouse (e.g. by failing to show care and affection, by refusing to socialise together, by ignoring the other in favour of spending all free time on social media, gaming etc)The key to this approach to divorce is that the behaviour must be regarded as something that is subjectively unreasonable for the petitioner to live with.
This list is not exhaustive and a good divorce lawyer will be able to advise you if your situation is one of unreasonable behaviour.
The key to this approach to divorce is that a spouse’s behaviour must be regarded as something that is subjectively unreasonable for the other spouse to live with.
It must be noted that if you continue to live with your spouse for more than 6 months since the last incident of behaviour which you say is unreasonable, it is likely that the court will not consider this behaviour to be sufficiently “unreasonable”.
Advantages of divorce based on unreasonable behaviour
As mentioned above, “unreasonable behaviour” is highly subjective since what is tolerable for one person may be completely intolerable for another. Hence there is a wide variety of behaviour that would satisfy the court that the marriage has broken irretrievably.
In a situation where there has been an extra-marital affair, the spouse who is alleging unreasonable behaviour is not required to prove the extra-marital affair took place nor name (assuming the name is known) the third party with whom the other spouse is having an affair nor join the said third party as a co-defendant to the divorce proceedings.
By contrast, in a divorce based on adultery, not only must the adultery be conclusively proven, the name of the third party (if known) must be stated in the divorce papers and the third party must be joined as a co-defendant to the proceedings. Proving adultery could eventually turn out to be expensive and a more complicated divorce procedure.
Disadvantages of Divorce based on Unreasonable Behaviour
But there are some disadvantages to citing unreasonable behaviour as the basis for filing for divorce.
For example, the Court must be convinced that the allegations of “unreasonable behaviour” provided for the divorce are sufficient to indicate that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Further, seeing the allegations of unreasonable behaviour made by a party written out in black and white can inflame or unnecessarily upset the other party. This increased level of tension can result in problems with other aspects of the divorce procedure, such as child custody and visitation rights. Indeed, even potentially amicable divorce proceedings have been derailed due to upset caused by “unreasonable behaviour” allegations.