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What is unreasonable behaviour as a ground for divorce?

What is unreasonable behaviour as a ground for divorce?

What is unreasonable behaviour as a ground for divorce?

Unreasonable behaviour as a ground for divorce falls under s95(3)(b) of the Women’s Charter. To prove unreasonable behaviour, you must show that:

  1. your spouse has behaved in a certain manner; and
  2. it is not reasonable to expect you to continue living with your spouse due to that behaviour.
How does the Court determine unreasonable behaviour?

Determining unreasonable behaviour is a fact-finding process. According to the case of Wong Siew Boey v Lee Boon Fatt, the Court will consider the following:

  1. Whether you, as a plaintiff, find it intolerable to continue to live with your defendant spouse. As this is a subjective test and the Court will not consider whether your spouse’s behaviour is reasonable or not. At this juncture, it is relevant that in your own perspective, you find it intolerable to continue living with your spouse.
  • In relation to the defendant’s behaviour, the Court will consider if it is reasonable to expect you to continue to live with your spouse. This is an objective test in which Court will consider the personalities of you and your spouse before and after the unreasonable conduct.
  • Your spouse’s behaviour may be cumulative and may extend to other parties as well. In determining the cumulative effect, the Court will consider any conduct whether it is active or passive, as long as it affects you and your marriage.
  • What are some examples unreasonable behaviour?

    Given the factors above, the types of unreasonable behaviour is non-exhaustive. Examples of unreasonable behaviour may include:

    • Domestic violence.
    • Verbal abuse and constant criticism.
    • Compulsive gambling.
    • Alcoholism.
    • Lack of respect.
    • Lack of affection, care and concern.
    • Obsessive behaviour.
    • Improper association with another party.
      Will the Court always make a finding for unreasonable behaviour?


    It is also important to note that the Court may disregard the unreasonable behaviour if you continue to live with your spouse for 6 months or more since the conduct. However, living under the same roof but in different rooms will likely be sufficient to dissuade the Court from disregarding the conduct. The determining factor here is that you have shown that there is no possibility of reconciliation with your spouse.


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