DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE – WHAT IS “UNREASONABLE BEHAVIOUR”

To show “unreasonable behaviour’, it is not sufficient to say that parties no longer get along or are not compatible.  

divorce singapore - unreasonable behaviour

UNREASONABLE BEHAVIOUR DIVORCE – Examples and Types of Unreasonable Behaviour in Singapore Divorce Law  .

Unreasonable behaviour” is the most common ground for divorce in Singapore divorce law, according to the latest Statistics on Marriages and Divorces 2016.  Divorce based on “unreasonable behaviour” made up 53.5 per cent of cases.

The party filing the divorce must show that the other spouse to the marriage has behaved in such an unreasonable manner that the other finds it intolerable to live with him or her, and as a result the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

It is therefore instructive that we discuss exactly what is meant by “unreasonable behaviour.”

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Test for “unreasonable behaviour”

The test for determining whether a spouse has behaved in such way that the other spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her was laid down in the case of Wong Siew Boey v Lee Boon Fatt[1994] 2 SLR 115.

This test requires the court to ask if the plaintiff, with his or her characteristics and personality, with his or her faults and other attributes, can reasonably be expected to live with the defendant.

The test as stated is an objective one that requires the court to take into account the subjective qualities of the plaintiff.

Simply put – the question is whether the defendant’s behaviour was so unreasonable that the union has become impossible, rather than on any consideration of blameworthiness.

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What are some examples and types of unreasonable behaviour?

Examples  and types of unreasonable behaviour can include:

  • The Defendant has been violent towards the Plaintiff.
  • The Defendant has threatened the Plaintiff with physical violence or has been physically abusive.
  • The Defendant has been verbally abusive towards the Plaintiff.
  • The Defendant is an alcoholic, drinks to excess, and when he/she is under the influence of alcohol he/she behaves in an unreasonable and aggressive manner.
  • The Defendant shows little or no respect towards the Plaintiff.
  • The Defendant is always criticising the Plaintiff without any proper reason.
  • The Defendant repeatedly insults the Plaintiff by calling him/her “useless”, “good for nothing.”
  • The Defendant is financially irresponsible, and has failed to maintain the Plaintiff and/or the children properly during the marriage.
  • The Defendant frequently comes home in the early hours of morning, reeking of alcohol and perfume.  When questioned, he/she refuses to tell the Plaintiff where he/she has been.
  • During the marriage the Defendant is a compulsive gambler, or has gambled to excess and has, on numerous occasions, caused considerable distress to the Plaintiff by getting into large gambling debts and dissipating the family’s savings.
  • The Defendant has borrowed money from the Plaintiff to feed his/her gambling habit.
  • The Defendant has no interest in the Plaintiff’s life.
  • The Defendant has formed an improper relationship with a woman/man whose identity is unknown.
  • The Defendant refuses to discuss the issues within the marriage with the Petitioner.
  • The Defendant shows no interest in talking with the Plaintiff and prefers to socialise alone with friends.
  • The Defendant is a spendthrift and has repeatedly spent money beyond the couple’s means.
  • The Defendant refuses to try and resolve the issues and continues to behave in an unreasonable manner. .

The court will also look at whether there has been unreasonable behaviour for a long period of time.   Some behaviour – while taken individually –  may not seem serious or unreasonable.  The court will however look at all the series of unreasonable behaviour collectively to determine if the behaviour is unreasonable.

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