The Essential ABCs Of Muslim Divorce Procedures In Singapore
A lot of Singaporeans are actually clueless when it comes to the matter of divorce. Don’t get us wrong. There may have one or two relatives or close friends that may have gotten divorced before.
But knowing what one needs to go through and actually going through the divorce process are not the same thing.
Unless you’ve been through it before, you probably have no idea what to do. We receive a lot of questions regularly for even basic topics like Talak.
Can A Man Apply For Divorce Without Any Grounds?
Technically speaking, a man does not necessarily need to have any grounds of divorce, due to his ability to pronounce Talak. However, if a man does not produce any grounds of divorce – his case may be greatly affected. The lack of grounds may adversely affect his position in relation to how much his wife can claim from him.
There is also the issue of his child/children’s access. Hence, these issues are intertwined (connected) and need to be considered.
If a man does not provide any reasons but simply states ‘infidelity’, for example, as a cause for applying for divorce, that may assist the wife in proving her case – for example, that the husband is wayward and an irresponsible man, and in turn increases her indirect contributions.
Can A Wife Apply For A Divorce?
Yes. The wife may apply for divorce. The wife, on the other hand, has to technically show certain grounds such as failure to pay maintenance or physical abuse. (See Section 48 and 49 of AMLA, Admin Of Muslim Law Act).
The wife will also be required to bring 2 witnesses to support her case and cross examine her husband. Only then will she be able to ask for the Court to pronounce the Talak.
This only happens in situations where the husband is absent, refuses to pronounce, or when they both refused Hakam. If both parties do take up the services of Hakam, then there may be three possible scenarios that result:
- Husband agrees to pronounce Talak after the Hakam session.
- Husband agrees to allow wife to pronounce Talak on herself. (Yes, this exists in Islam)
- Hakam pronounces Talak on behalf of the husband. (with or without husband’s consent)
Is There A Waiting Period?
There is no waiting period.
What Should I be Aware Of?
There are several NEW changes in the Admin Of Muslim Law Act. These changes have been brought in under the new rules – where now, you not only need to have been married under a Muslim marriage overseas but both parties must be domiciled in Singapore (stayed for more than 3 years).
The forms in the Syariah courts have also changed and parties must now also fill up a proposed matrimonial plan and other related forms in a divorce.
You may apply for divorce in Syariah Court if you are unhappy in your marriage. This is the only way for Muslims. However, there are various reasons for doing so and you must state your grounds clearly. Lack of information may not be beneficial for your case.
Is There A Compulsory Counselling Session Before My Divorce Takes Place?
There is a compulsory divorce counselling after you register for divorce. However, you may go for as many counselling sessions as you like to save your marriage.
You may approach any family service centres or Muslim counselling agencies.
What Should I Do If I Want To Divorce?
The first step is to fill up the divorce application form to register the divorce.
It is beneficial for you to engage a lawyer if you are not familiar with the divorce procedures. This will also enable you to focus on your family, your physical and mental well-being, while the lawyer representing you will focus solely on the mandatory paperwork and court hearings.
What Documents Do I Need For A Divorce Application?
You will need the following documents:
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificates of your children (if applicable)
- CPF documents – you can get this online
- Housing documents – you can get this online.
- Standard Query and Housing Guidance from HDB (if you have minor kids)
What If I Have Misplaced My Marriage Certificate?
You may apply at ROMM (Registry Of Muslim Marriages) for an extract but there will be charges.
For various forms for a divorce application, they can be downloaded online. A lawyer will be able to guide you through the forms. It is important to note that the Syariah Court will not advise all parties.
How Long Will A Divorce Process Take?
Divorce processes are getting streamlined and the Courts do want to shorten the processes. However, on average, divorce proceedings may take up to a year.
Will There Be Any Mediation?
There will be a compulsory mediation. This is to see if both parties are able to reconcile or, at least, be able to agree on the terms of the divorce. Some parties are less acrimonious (resentful) and are able to agree on almost all terms.
These terms include who the children stays with, the amount for Nafkah, and the division of the matrimonial flat. So if you and your spouse can agree to all these terms, then a successful mediation can end your divorce quickly and you need not wait for a year.
What If My Spouse Never Turns Up?
If your spouse did not turn up for mediation or hearing sessions, this may delay your proceedings initially. Ultimately, it will make it much easier for you if your spouse doesn’t turn up, as nobody will be contesting against your case.
IMPORTANT: However, you must obtain an order for substituted service. This means that in the case where you are unable to find your husband and physically give him the papers, you must seek the approval of the court to serve the papers on him using methods such as Whatsapp, email or newspaper advertisement.
A lawyer will be able to advise you on this.
Ready To Discuss Your Divorce Case?
What Is A Parenting Plan?
This is a form to inform the Court where your children are staying and who is looking after them, among others.
How Many Trial Or Court Mentions Do I Need To Go Through?
There are about 3 Pre-Trial Conference and 1 Mediation session before the Divorce Trial. However, you need not attend all the Pre-Trial conference IF you are represented by a lawyer.
Talk to us so that we can explain to you in detail.
How To Deal With Child Custody Issues?
Child custody issues are handled at the hearing. Sometimes, parties do take out an interim custody application when they want an urgent order on who has the right to take care of the child/children before the Trial date arrives and the Final Order is made.
What About Our Matrimonial House? What Will Happen To It?
Dealing with matrimonial house – it is about the numbers. You must take note of the remaining unpaid mortgage. You also need to know whether the house is to be sold or transferred to the other party. By doing so, you can proceed onto the correct process.
If it is to be transferred, will the other party (spouse) taking over be able to give your share and refinance? Every cent that both parties have put into the payment of the house is called the ‘direct contributions’. Whereas, sacrifices and other intangibles is called the ‘indirect contributions’.
As such while both parties may have contributed 50:50, it is possible for the Court to give 20% MORE to one party (for indirect contributions) and order it to be 70:30 instead.
Who Gets The House And Why?
This is also one of the burning questions that all divorcing parties have. There is no formula on this. Each and every case is unique.
Can My Spouse Bring His Girlfriend To Our House While Our Divorce Is Not Finalised?
This is a civil issue but you may raise it in the Court to deny him or her.
How Do I Apply For Maintenance Order?
The wife’s maintenance comes under ‘mutaah’ and ‘iddah’ which is ordered at the Syariah Court. But for child maintenance, you must proceed to Family Court.
Get in touch with us. We will advise you further.
What If I Change My Mind After My Divorce Application?
Revocation of Divorce – This simply means that you are withdrawing your divorce application, and yes, you may do so before the Final Order is given by Syariah Court.
NOTE: Engaging a lawyer is not compulsory but it is definitely helpful especially when there is a lot at stake.
As lawyers, our professional duty is to represent our clients through their divorce proceedings. We will not advise you on whether or not is it better for you to divorce. That is a decision that you will have to make on your own accord.
If you have not made up your mind or wish to save your marriage, please proceed to a counsellor or Ustaz who will be able to advise you better.
We are here to assist those whom wish to divorce or are in the midst of divorce or PPO proceedings.
Let Us Guide You Through The Complex Legal Requirements For Your Case
We do hope that this in-depth article is of value to you. Do comment below if you need more questions to be answered. This way, we will be able to add more of your burning questions to our list above.
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