Is Adultery A Crime In Singapore? 7 Key Facts

by | Oct 15, 2023 | Blog

is adultery a crime in singapore

Finding out a spouse has cheated can be emotionally and mentally taxing. For couples who have been married for several years, infidelity comes as a slap in the face. The husband or wife has worked so hard to make the marriage work, only for it to come crumbling down in seconds.

Many betrayed spouses may even wonder if adultery is a crime in Singapore. Can they take their case to Court? Can they even get a divorce by proving adultery? How?

Many of these questions are probably burning in their minds. And if you’re reading this, you’re likely one of the many men and women who have been hurt by your spouse’s actions.

You want answers. You want to find out if there is anything that the law can do about adultery.

Let us tell you that we’re here to clear things up. We’ll be discussing below what Singapore Law says about adultery, how you can prove it, and what you can do.

Legal Definition Of Adultery

The legal definition of adultery in Singapore is “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who isn’t their spouse”.

Adulterous acts, when caught, can serve as a legitimate reason to divorce a spouse under the grounds of an “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”.

The aggrieved spouse or victim must first prove adultery before the Court accepts this reasoning. According to Section 95 of the Women’s Charter, the spouse or plaintiff must be able to prove the marriage has broken down through the following:

  • The plaintiff finds it intolerable to live with the defendant (cheating spouse) due to adultery.
  • The plaintiff cannot live together with the defendant due to unreasonable behaviour.
  • The defendant has left the plaintiff without warning for two consecutive years
  • The parties to the marriage have been separated for at least three (or four) years

Is Adultery A Crime In Singapore?

No. While there is legal language regarding adultery, Singapore criminal law does not recognise this act as a criminal offence.

The police cannot charge the spouse with adultery if caught in the act. They may only charge the adulterer if there is proof of domestic abuse or harassment against the wife or husband.

In this case, the victim may also consider applying for  a Personal Protection Order (PPO) against the defendant to prevent further harassment.

What Is Considered Adultery?

Claims of adultery may be difficult to prove, which is why the Court heavily emphasises the importance of solid proof and evidence of an adulterous relationship.

An act can only be determined adulterous if it involves voluntary extramarital sexual intercourse. It doesn’t matter if the third party is married. So long as the defendant has engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with someone else, it is still adultery.

How Can You Prove Adultery?

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We’ve already established that the Court places the burden on the victim to prove adultery. This process could go either one of two ways:

  • The cheating spouse has admitted to the claim of adultery and has willingly shown solid proof of the act
  • The aggrieved spouse has irrefutable evidence of adultery

Adulterers rarely admit to the act. And when they do, they might not necessarily reveal the whole truth.

Meanwhile, collecting evidence may be emotionally laborious for the aggrieved party. If they cannot collect evidence on their own, they may seek the services of a private investigator to do so.

Types Of Evidence Of Adultery

Evidence can come in the form of many mediums. One source of irrefutable proof is video evidence of the adulterous relationship.;

The Court may also accept as evidence if the spouse can prove their partner was inclined to commit adultery.

For example, they could provide photographic evidence of the adulterers in sexual positions. Again, you may need a private investigator to take photographs of the adulterous act.

Other forms of communication can also serve as evidence of adultery. The spouse can show intimate exchanges of the adulterers through SMS or email.

However, the most definitive proof of indirect adultery is the existence of a lovechild. If the extramarital affair has borne a child and DNA evidence strongly shows they are the son or daughter of the cheating spouse, it makes a strong case against adultery before the Courts.

What Happens If You Can’t Get Sufficient Evidence Of Adultery?

If you’re having difficulty proving adultery or don’t have the means to hire a private investigator, don’t despair. You can still file for divorce based on your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour.

Proving unreasonable behaviour is easier because it does not require the plaintiff to show solid evidence. The plaintiff can instead use “improper associations” with a third party as the basis of unreasonable behaviour.

The Right Time To File For Divorce Due To Adultery

Coming to terms with your wife or husband’s cheating can take a while. You may be grieving the betrayal and loss of trust and emotional attachment.

As overwhelming as everything seems, keep a steady head. Avoid impulsive decisions like physically hurting your spouse. Doing this may get you into further legal trouble.

Assess your legal options instead. If you’re filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery, remember you have only six months to do so. The Court cannot accept adultery as the reason to file for divorce more than six months after your discovery.

What Happens To The Children After A Divorce?

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Just because your spouse has committed adultery does not automatically grant you custody of your children. It’s ultimately up to the Court’s discretion to decide on child custody matters. They will assess the children’s best interests and not only regard your cheating spouse’s wrongdoing in the matter.

One possible way adultery can be relevant in child custody matters is if it has a direct negative impact on the children.

For instance, committing adultery has caused the spouse to neglect his or her responsibilities as a parent. Or, they may act out on their child through emotional or physical pain.

Spousal maintenance, custody, division of matrimonial assets and other issues will have a separate ancillary matters hearing.

Who Pays For The Legal Fees If The Spouse Has Committed Adultery?

The Courts will usually order the defendant to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees if they lose the case. If the plaintiff has hired a private investigator, the defendant will also be ordered to shoulder the costs.

Conclusion About Adultery In Singapore

Adulterous relations may not be punishable or fineable in Singapore, but victims have other legal resources.

If you’re a victim of adultery, we understand the emotional and mental pain you’re going through. But if you’ve exhausted all means to mend the relationship to no avail, filing for a divorce may be your best legal option.

Book a free 30-minute consultation now from a divorce lawyer in Singapore. Get professional legal advice and have some clarity over the next steps to take in your case.

Frequently Asked Questions About Adultery In Singapore

Who Can File For Divorce Based On Adultery?

The adulterer cannot file for divorce. Only the aggrieved spouse can do so.

Can I Immediately Divorce My Spouse After Committing Adultery If We’ve Been Married Only For A Few Months?

No, you can’t file for divorce if the marriage lasted for less than three years unless you are granted by the Courts to do so.

Will I Lose Custody Of My Child If I Commit Adultery?

No, you won’t immediately lose child custody if you committed adultery. Singapore Courts will decide based on what’s best for the children.

What Is The Penalty For Committing Adultery In Singapore?

No. Since adultery isn’t a criminal offence, the spouse cannot be fined for adultery.

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.