I regularly have clients asked me this- what constitutes separation in Singapore?
Separation in Singapore is not only about being physically separated. It is also about being emotionally separated.
The couple who are forced to live separate lives
One good case that may illustrate this is that of Scott and Johanna Watkins. Johanna is allergic to her husband. She suffers from the Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, a rare disorder of the immune system. This means that she is allergic to almost everything, including the scent of her husband. She cannot be in the same room as her husband.
When they watch a movie, Johanna will watch it in her laptop in a separate room 3 floors above Scott. They will watch the move at the same time and text each other about it. Johanna lives in an attic room by herself. Her doors and windows are sealed, and she has air filters to purify the air.
Johanna used to be a teacher and the couple used to hike. The couple did not know that Johanna’s condition would become so serious even though she had unusual rashes and irritable bowel syndrome prior to getting married. After they got married, Johanna got worse and she would cough if Scott’s face got too close to hers.
In 2015, the couple realized that they are not able to physically live together. The treatment and medication does not work so the couple do not know if they will ever live together again.
Though physically apart, they try to share as much about their lives with each other by talking a lot to each other.
See: Lucy Wallis, “I’m allergic to my husband”, BBC World Service, 16 January 2017
The story of Scott and Johanna Watkins is heart-wrenching. I certainly hope they are able to resume living together again.
Though they are physically separated, theirs will not constitute a case of separation in Singapore if they were to be in Singapore. They care about each other and are emotionally attached to each other.
It is similar to a case of one spouse being posted overseas to work. The couple are forced to live apart due to work, but they are still emotionally connected to each other. In a case like this, there is no case of separation in Singapore.
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