How do you prove unreasonable behaviour in divorce?

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How do you prove unreasonable behaviour in divorce?

In order to obtain a divorce in Singapore, the spouse who files for divorce must prove that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

One way of proving the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is to show that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her, i.e. unreasonable behaviour. This is the second limbunder Section 95(3) of the Women’s Charter.


What is considered “unreasonable behavior”?

Unreasonable behaviour has a very broad scope, which is why it is the most common fact relied upon to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The behaviour can refer to any conduct, both active or passive, and even an omission to do something. It can also include conduct towards other family members and outsiders, as long as the behaviour relates to the marriage. This could be, for instance, your spouse’s refusal to get along with your parents and intentionally causing trouble for them.

Examples of behaviour that may be considered unreasonable in the circumstances include the following:

· Your spouse’s short temper and inclination to get easily agitated and upset;

· Your spouse’s aggressive or violent reaction to events;

· Any improper association that your spouse has with a third party;

· The continuous accusations that your spouse makes against you; or

· Your spouse’s neglect of you and your family.

However, your spouse’s conduct must amount to more than the grievance that the parties are incompatible, that they no longer have anything in common or that one of them is bored with the marriage.


The test for unreasonable behaviour

The test for unreasonable behaviour was set out in the case of Castello Anna Paula Costa Fusillier v Lobo Carlos Manuel Rosado [2003]which referred to the High Court case of Wong Siew Boey v Lee Boon Fatt [1994]. The main question is whether your spouse has behaved in such a way that the you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. In determining this question, the Court will take into account your subjective qualities such as your character, personality and various attributes in deciding if your spouse’s behaviour would be considered unreasonable to you.

As such, even if your spouse’s behaviour does not affect his or her own family members, the Court will be persuaded that there is unreasonable behaviour if it affects you to the extent that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with your spouse.

In addition, the Court will not look at each act or incident individually. Instead, the Court will take into account the cumulative effect of your spouse’s behaviour over a period of time in determining whether you could practically be expected to live with him or her. However, do note that the last act, incident or omission must not have occurred more than 6 months before the filing of the divorce papers.



Whether or not there was “unreasonable behaviour” is a very fact-specific inquiry. In this regard, we would recommend that you speak to an experienced family lawyer who can provide you with legal advice on your matter. At PKWA Family Law, we provide a free first consultation to help you to better understand your situation and what can be done. Contact us at tel 6854-5336 to find out more.





At PKWA Law, our team of Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore family lawyers by respected independent legal publications such as Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review, Global Law Experts and Doyle’s Guide to Singapore Family Lawyers.

Contact us at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation.


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