A research on the sociological analysis of divorce in Singapore written by Tai Ching Ling in the Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science shows that divorce in the country dates back to before 1960. The number of cases has risen rapidly with over 69.3% of applications granted between 1960 and 1971. There were around 2036 applications made to the supreme court for Muslims and 1411 for the non-Muslims. Of these, 55.5% was filed by wives. The remaining 44.5 % was filed by husbands.
The surprising turnout was that only 12% of the aggrieved parties contested the divorce case. The parties that did so were women who felt their husbands had no reason to seek a divorce. Men usually accept their fate when a woman seeks a divorce. Tai Ching Ling suggests that men did not file for divorce because they believed that most women will contest it. Therefore, they wait for the women to take the initiative and easily let them go.
In Singapore, divorce seekers have to give specific reasons, unlike in other countries. They are:
- Excessive drinking of alcohol
- Other addictions that are not bearable to the spouse
Tai Ching’s research shows that the number of couples who claim desertion as reason is 44.9%. Adultery is a major second with 26.4%. Desertion is simply when one spouse leaves the marriage or the house permanently or for some time without explicit information to the spouse, approval from the spouse, and to the detriment of the spouse.
Over the years, some Singaporean men have used desertion as a medium for starting a new life for themselves. The idea is that when they leave, the woman will have no option but find a way to continue with her life by filing for divorce. Desertion can be also termed abandonment. Some courts will have to make the person prove that the spouse has left home for more than 12 months. Also, the aggrieved person has to prove that the spouse departed without consent, or that the aggrieved and the spouse had earlier consented but, over time, the spouse changed the true reason for the departure, ceased to perform due responsibilities or failed to pay support. The aggrieved furthermore has to prove that he or she did not cause the departure.
On many occasions, spouses desert to give the other partner a reason to divorce especially when they don’t want to carry out the proceedings themselves or when they cannot get the annulment through normal means. The abandonment leaves a spouse and maybe the children in poverty and depression. The aggrieved party thus has a reason to go to court and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she is not the reason for the spouse’s new behavior. In other cases, when a woman runs away due to domestic violence, the court will not classify it as desertion. It will also not classify a man as having deserted if he had already made his divorce plans known to his wife prior to moving out of the home.
Most couples decide to stay apart for a while time to check if their spouse will need some space for the marriage to work. However, if after this there is still no room for reconciliation, the individuals may decide to file for divorce.
Adultery is another growing cause of divorce, especially in Asian countries. A problem starts mostly after the wife becomes pregnant or no longer looks attractive to the man. It can also be a result of promiscuity. In Singapore, adultery is the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not his or her spouse. Many aggrieved persons file for divorce on the grounds of adultery by terming it ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage.’
The courts will demand very clear proof that adultery had occurred before granting the divorce on that basis. This is because many people can make false claims just to obtain money from their spouses or for other purposes. The court might demand evidence that includes photographs, messages exchanged between the spouse and the third party or any other incriminating proof acceptable in court. The law in Singapore strictly allows application for divorce to be made within six months after awareness that a spouse is cheating.
Cruelty is another reason for divorce in any court of law. A lot of people are in abusive relationships. Cruelty applies when a partner physically molests a spouse by hitting him or her. It often comes as a shock for many because when they started the relationship, they had no premonition the partner would turn abusive and cause damage to their body and emotions. Cruelty is mostly associated with men. Some are psychologically or mentally unstable and feel they can only derive sexual and other satisfaction by hitting a woman. Others feel the woman will only show them respect if she is physically abused.
Typical fallouts are extremely low self-esteem in the woman, bruises all over her body, and in some cases, death. The strange discovery a few psychological researchers have made is that some women derive pleasure when their partner hits them during a sexual adventure. Some men said their action, besides the desire for sexual pleasure or dominance, was also influenced by alcohol. Out of love, some women will forgive their partners, hoping they would not repeat it. Other men claim they hit women only when they are stressed, and thereafter derive emotional release. Caring women normally fall prey by believing it is inconsequential as long as they love the man. But allowing him to hit you anytime is a reason to run and ask him to seek counseling.
Furthermore, some men outrageously say that their women deserved to be beaten because they committed an offense or bruised their ego. Men who have this notion are most likely authoritarian. They believe the woman is a lower being and deserves less care and sympathy. They also believe that women were designed to be treated any way they please. Another group of men hit women because they grew up believing it is the norm. This is often seen in men whose fathers constantly hit their mothers and siblings to make them do their biddings. Witnessing abuse as a child doesn’t give a man the right to molest a woman or his wife. The woman he claims to love should be a symbol of protection and strength for him, not an object of oppression and control.
Research by the American Psychology Institute shows that when a man hits a woman once, the chances that he will hit her again are very high. Singaporean domestic violence survivor, Pushpa Chandra, said that after her husband beat her, she didn’t want her family to look down on him so she kept it to herself, not realizing that after a first abuse, a second is never far away. Every law court takes physical abuse very seriously because many women have lost their lives as a result.
Separation is another reason for divorce. Separation is not the same as desertion. Desertion usually happens when a spouse leaves without returning, and in most cases does not give reasons for doing so. Separation, according to the court, is a written agreement that a married couple does not wish to live together. One of the requirements for this to come into effect is that one spouse must sleep and live in another residence.
Legal separation doesn’t mean divorce but can lead to divorce. It also means that married couples are still legally married. There may be a division of assets, child custody arrangements, spousal support, and division of debts if any. When the parties decide to go for a divorce, the court needs to be aware of their final decision. In most cases, a legal separation requires that reasons for separation be made known to the court and the child.
Financial and other arrangements are clearly stated in the legal separation agreement. This is because the court will like to take all measures to ensure that unnecessary strife and envy doesn’t start after the legal separation is in place. Some couples may start to incur debt or sell the property they own. This will cause extreme financial strife that could be detrimental to their children or dependents.
Legal separation can last for a period of six months to one year before divorce proceedings can be initiated or granted. Some couples are also free to go to court individually and request for a legal separation when they believe that their partner will not grant them a separation. Most couples use the trial and legal separation method before going for a divorce. This is done by living separately for a while or in separate bedrooms to understand if they can find other means of renewing their relationship.
Excessive drinking of alcohol has become one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States and Asia. An alcoholic can make his partner’s life miserable, hopeless, alone, and even depressed. Drunkenness can also lead to abuse especially when the spouse who is responsible becomes violent. Too much alcohol intake by one partner can make a relationship traumatic and push it to the brink of irreconcilability. It is widely known that people who drink alcohol tend to have blackouts and may not comprehend past or current actions.
Alcoholics barely say the truth or admit that they are addicted to the substance. They are also known to spill secrets when they are under the influence. Many of these hardly get custody of their children, because it is difficult to prove they can train a child in the right way or give it needed love and care. Psychologists have also argued that alcoholics have a higher chance of abusing their children physically, emotionally, physiologically and sociologically. Divorcing someone who is a moderate drinker is different from divorcing someone who abuses alcohol. Chances that the court will insist you show proof that the spouse is constantly under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicant are very high.
In some countries, the proof will be a video recording on several occasions showing the date and time and the actions of the person while under the influence. Some courts in the United States and Ireland will dismiss cases of divorce based on excessive alcohol drinking if the person was aware that their spouse was a heavy drinker and addicted to alcohol before marriage. Also, in the sharing of assets, alcohol or any other substance abuse might not be used as a case for divorce. Assets sharing is normally considered when both parties have equally worked hard intentionally and practically to grow the asset.
Apart from alcohol, crime or getting convicted of a crime is a reason for divorce. Usually, this depends on the court and the nature of the crime. Some countries will grant an immediate divorce to an aggrieved partner when a spouse is convicted of crimes such as murder or serious financial fraud. Courts may also declare the spouse unfit for cohabitation or dangerous to a person and society.
Chances that a partner will not want to be in a marriage after the spouse is jailed are very high. Some countries have listed their fault divorce rules while others have listed a no-fault divorce rule. The countries that listed a no-fault divorce rule might not accept conviction of a crime as a reason for divorce. Others will give a time limit of 3-5 years before the aggrieved partner can file for divorce. Normally, only a few marriages gain back their taste and essence after a spouse spends some time in prison. This is because the other partner might feel lonely and decide to be adventurous with his or her life. He or she might also suffer the sociological and psychological trauma of being termed the partner to a convict.
Besides addiction to drugs, spending money in a way that jeopardizes the couple’s livelihood on bets, game playing, visits to places are reasons why disagreements finally degenerate to divorce. Many other couples reach a divorce for special reasons known to them. Some might have just found love with another person and feel staying with their current partner a bore.
After we have fully understood that the causes of the divorce depend on the parties involved, we will proceed to understand the mental and physical impact divorce can have on people.
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