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Unreasonable behaviour reason for divorce

Under Singapore law, to get a divorce, one of the spouses should prove that there is a breakdown in the marriage, which cannot be corrected. The relations are so hostile that the couple are unable to live together. According to a litigation law firm in Singapore that was close to the matter, one way of proving this is using the Women’s Charter, with section 95(3) (b). This section allows one spouse to show that the other behaved in a manner, that it is not possible for the married couple to live in the same house.

Defining “Unreasonable behaviour”

Unreasonable behavior can cover a wide range of actions. It may include any passive or active act, or also the failure to take action of the spouse. In addition to serious problems like domestic violence, there may be a series of complaints which are together considered to be unreasonable behavior.

In some cases, one of the spouses refused to have any kind of conjugal relations with the complainant, while in another case, one spouse was humiliating and belittling the other. The court should decide whether it is reasonable to expect the complainant to live with a spouse behaving in this manner. The court also has to consider the attitude, character and other quality of each of spouses and how they behaved during the period when they were married.

Insufficient proof of unreasonable behavior

Incompatibility is often not adequate as proof of unreasonable behavior. In the case betwen Tan Siew Ling and David Lim Tock Siang, even if the spouses do not have anything in common, do not communicate and either spouse is bored, they cannot file for divorce. It is not related to mental compatibility, happiness, or feeling that the love is not reciprocated.

Determining what is Unreasonable Behaviour

The divorce case between Anna Angelina Castello and Carlos Many Lobo was used to decide the criteria for unreasonable behavior. The court will first try to find out if the spouse who has applied for the divorce cannot tolerate living with the other spouse. It does not matter if the spouse has a reason for behaving in this way, since a subjective approach is taken.

The court will look at how the other spouse is behaving, after considering the passive and other actions, to determine whether it unfair for the spouse who has filed for divorce to live with the other spouse. These actions should be related to their marriage in some way, yet may include the behaviour with outsiders and relatives.

Though malicious behavior can be considered unreasonable behavior, even if there is no malice, the behavior may be unreasonable. The court will also evaluate the cumulative effect of behaving in this manner, for how long this behavior has continued. While each action separately may not appear unreasonable, if these actions take place frequently, the behavior is unreasonable.

For example in the Tan vs Boon case, the aggrieved spouse had filed twenty three paragraphs of complaints. Each complaint when evaluated separately appeared to be a common complaint for married couples. Yet when considered together they were considered to be unreasonable behavior. It should be noted that a decision favoring the divorce or opposing it does not mean that the spouse is involved in misconduct. The divorce ruling is only related to the marriage and whether the couple should remain married. The court will focus on the behavior of the spouse and whether it is fair to force them legally to live together.


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