Although the Women’s Charter governs marriage and its validity, The Penal Act also makes provisions for marriage-related crimes.
Deception about marriage status:
A man who tricks a woman into cohabiting with him, or having sexual intercourse with him, in the belief that they are lawfully married (when they in actual fact are not), is guilty of “Cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage”.
Interestingly, it should be noted that this is a gender-specific crime, and can only be committed by men unto women. Whereas both genders can be charged for “going through a marriage ceremony with fraudulent intent without lawful marriage”: in which a party goes through a marriage ceremony knowing that they are not going to be lawfully married.
If charged with the first deception (under s.493 of the penal code), a man can face imprisonment for up to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine. The second deception is liable to (under s.496 of the penal code)imprisonment for a term up to 7 years, and may also be liable to fine.
Marriage when already lawfully married:
If you are married to someone whilst you have already been married to a husband or wife (and your marriage is still not void/you are not yet divorced), the latest marriage is declared void, and you may be found guilty of “marrying again during the lifetime of husband or wife” under s.494 of the Penal Code, which is punishablewith imprisonment for up to 7 years.
It is important to note that the penalties are increased if you willingly concealed the fact that you were already married to the latest party you are marrying. This is an offence under s.495, which is punishable with imprisonment up to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Due to the nature of these offences, it is important to seek legal advice from a lawyer in Singapore trained in both family law and divorce proceedings in Singapore. Civil litigation lawyers can help you through a difficult criminal process, whilst a divorce lawyer will guarantee you are properly unwed at the time of remarriage.