Should you file for divorce when your spouse commits adultery?

In times past, when women lacked the same opportunities as men in the work place and wives did not possess income earning capacity, wives often tolerated the fact of their husband’s adultery. In certain traditional Asian societies today where the husbands are the sole breadwinners in a marriage, wives are still sent the same message i.e. simply “grin and bear it” if you find out that your husband is committing adultery.

What this means for the wife is that she would have to suffer the pain of betrayal silently, without any legal recourse or help from family and friends. In fact, some family members would blame the wife for her husband’s adultery i.e. accusations that the wife is not meeting the husband’s needs. This would lead to feelings of inadequacy on the part of the wife. Coupled with the pain of betrayal, life would be a “living hell” for the wife.

In today’s Singaporean context, with the easy access to legal help, is tolerating your spouse’s adultery really necessary? The short answer is that living with a cheating spouse is simply “not worth it”.

If the fact of your spouse’s adultery is affecting your ability to lead a normal life i.e. causing you to suffer from feelings of worthlessness, depression and even have suicidal thoughts, you should choose instead to file for divorce. There is no point in tolerating your spouse’s adultery, particularly if he chooses to continue with his extra-marital relationship with a third party in the long run. You should choose instead to have a clean break from your spouse.

In Singapore, divorce is not fault based. The fact of your spouse’s adultery has little or no material impact on his or her ability to parent the children, nor does it mean that you are automatically compensated by being entitled to a huge monthly maintenance.

This may seem unfair to some, and some spouses do attempt to strike a huge financial blow by asking for exorbitant maintenance sums, or preventing the other parent from exercising access to the children. The courts do not view this favourably and it may be counter-productive in some cases i.e. affecting the outcome of the divorce.

Therefore, if your spouse commits adultery, you should choose not to retaliate. If your spouse refuses to end his extra-marital relationship with the third party, you should instead file for divorce and not as the colloquial term goes, be a “doormat”. After a clean break from your cheating spouse, you will then be able to rebuild your life and move on with a better man.

Written by Grace Tan, Senior Associate, Golden Law LLC