Husband divorces wife, wife sues for adultery, husband & mistress to pay S$16,000 PI & lawyer fees

Kerr Puay Hian | October 18, 2023, 10:56 AM



A Singapore district court ordered a man and his mistress to pay the fees of his ex-wife's lawyers and the private investigator, whom she hired for their divorce hearing. The fees totalled over S$16,000.

Sued each other for divorce

According to the judgment that was made publicly available on Oct. 14, 2023, the man and woman were married on Oct. 27, 2006, and have a child together.

The man filed for divorce on Aug. 26, 2023, for he could no longer "reasonably be expected" to live with the woman.

The woman filed a counterclaim less than a month later, citing the man's "unreasonable behaviour" and adultery with a mistress.

During a two-day trial, the man put forth multiple allegations regarding the woman's unreasonable behaviour in the marriage.

The district judge noted that many of these allegations were unsubstantiated, and pointed out that many examples of the woman's behaviour — having disputes with the man's family members, exhibiting violent behaviour, and making false accusations — were not unreasonable.

However, the judge did consider one incident, where the woman slapped the man unreasonably, to be sufficient cause for the man to be granted a divorce.

The rest of the judgment dealt with the adultery.

Woman hired a PI to collect evidence

The woman said she first learned about the adultery when M, a man who had cohabited with the mistress, contacted her on Jun. 28, 2021, with his suspicions.

M claimed that he saw the man pick up the mistress "many times", apparently to go swimming together at an industrial building in Tampines.

For the divorce proceedings, the woman hired a private investigator (PI) to collect evidence of the adultery.

The PI's report showed that on May 1, 2023, the man stayed at the mistress' house overnight and only left in the morning after 10am.

The PI also retrieved car park records, which showed the man visiting the car park near the mistress' house daily since Jun. 13, 2021, with frequent stays of 2 to 4 hours.

However, neither the woman, M, nor the PI saw the man and his mistress in physical contact.

The judge said he had to decide if the report and records were sufficient evidence to show that the man and the mistress had committed adultery.

Judge believed the man tried to "play down" things

When the PI conducted his surveillance on Apr. 30, 2022, the man and woman were already in the midst of divorce proceedings.

Hence, in his defence, the man claimed he spent time with the mistress to "prepare their defence to a claim of adultery".

He also claimed that he did not spend all the time at the mistress' house but instead spent six to seven hours a day, five to six times a week at his brother's house, which was nearby.

The man also claimed that he never stayed overnight at the mistress' home but stayed overnight at his brother's.

However, the judge did not believe the man's words.

The judge pointed out that what the man said contradicted facts from the PI report and car park records.

He said the lies of never staying over at the mistress home and the exaggerated claims of how much time he spent at his brother's home "suggest that there was something about their association which they were trying to play down".

The judge also pointed out that since the couple had already started divorce proceedings when the PI surveillance was conducted, it could explain why the man and the mistress were never caught having physical contact in the open,

The judge, hence, thought it was understandable that they would be careful to avoid physical contact in public.

Judge ordered man and mistress to pay for PI and legal fees

Besides adultery, the judge also found the man to have "unreasonable behaviour", such as one instance of violence, and neglect for the woman, as he had been spending much of his time with the mistress.

For divorces granted based on the unreasonable behaviour of both parties, the judge explained that both parties would typically bear their own costs.

However, the judge said that as there is the issue of adultery, the man and his mistress must bear the woman's costs.

He thus ordered the man and mistress to equally bear the S$6000 legal fees and S$9,823.25 PI fees.

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