Introduction to Syariah Divorce Procedures
Annulment? Separation? Divorce? Heavy terms with even heavier repercussions.Nobody would want to or even have thoughts of going through this dreadful process during happier times, especially during the day that you are getting hitched. But who can predict the future and what beholds for each of us?
At this juncture, you are feeling that you have done the best you can and are now faced with the inevitable and controversial but yet necessary decision to proceed to the higher authority or an expert divorce lawyer in helping you to move forward to be a happier person, for you and your children. So how do you even begin? Who do you talk to regarding issues in your marriage?
In the Singapore context, under the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Chapter 3 of the Statutes of Singapore), the Syariah Court has the jurisdiction to regulate muslim marriages.
In order to get a divorce, firstly the marriage must be a Muslim marriage and the couple (you and your partner) must have attended the counselling sessions under the Marriage Counselling Program.
The couple does not need to be a Singaporean and foreign muslim marriages are recognized as well subject to further verification by way of affidavits. So you might ask why is counselling necessary at the stage when you are already finalised to proceed with a divorce?
Well, counselling has various approaches and aims. When you go for counselling, an appointed counsellor will try to work with you to explore strategies to help overcome concerns or difficulties.
Depending on your needs, the counsellor will provide practical, psychological and emotional support. You are highly encouraged to share your issues openly with the counsellor so as to enable them to work through your issues and come up with workable solutions and alternatives to cope with your current situation.
Counselling is compulsory as without the form given to you after counselling, you will be unable to file your divorce. You will be required to attend counselling at an appointed agency under the Marriage Counselling Programme (MCP). MCP provides a safe and neutral platform for you and your spouse to discuss your marital concerns.
It is the counsellors’ objectives to ensure that both you and your spouse are fully aware of the impact of the decision to divorce. Where necessary, access to other forms of support from other agencies will be provided to minimise the impact of marital crisis on yourself and/or your children.
Reconciliation After Counselling
After you have completed counselling, you are required to inform the counsellor of your decision, whether or not you intend to proceed with the divorce proceedings. Syariah Court will follow up with you accordingly if your decision is to pursue divorce. No further action will be taken if both parties have decided to settle for reconciliation instead.
Proceeding With Your Divorce
If your decision is to proceed with divorce, the next step would be to submit your divorce registration form for divorce proceedings to move forward. The following documents are to be submitted together with the registration form:
- Marriage Certificate
- Children’s Birth Certificate (if any)
- Your Identity Card / Passport
You will receive an acknowledgement from Syariah Court within 4 to 6 weeks after submission of form and all supporting documents.
A couple more of documents that you will need to submit are; Originating Summons, which is a legal document that you serve to your spouse personally or through your engaged lawyer and the other is Case Statement (Form 7 for male plaintiff or Form 8 for female plaintiff). Case Statement is a document where the grounds of divorce is specified.
With the above set of forms, there are other supporting documentations that will need to be submitted such as:
- Identity Card / Valid Passport
- Original Marriage Certificate issued by Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM)
- Children’s Birth Certificates
- Latest CPF statement showing Public Housing Withdrawal details
- Latest CPF statement showing the balance in your Ordinary, Special, Medisave, Retirement and Investment Accounts
- Latest HDB standard query reply (applicable to HDB flat owners / permitted occupiers only)
- Latest HDB / Bank statement on outstanding housing mortgage loan
- Property Statement (applicable to private property owners only)
- Filing Fee (Nets or CashCard)
After all the required documents have been submitted by both parties, a mediation date will be given.
Mediation will be your first court session if your marriage was registered and solemnised in Singapore. Both plaintiff and defendant must attend the mediation session in person even though either party has engaged a lawyer.
However, before attending the mediation session, you may wish to consider some pointers;
- Plans to settle the dispute
- Your claim against the defendant and how the defendant is likely to react.
- The strength of your case and the probability of getting what you want at the hearing.
You and your spouse are encouraged to exchange the following documents prior to seeing the mediator;
- Estimated value of your property based on recent transactions reflected in the HDB or URA websites.
- Latest CPF statement showing the Public Housing Withdrawal details.
- Latest CPF statement showing the balance in your Ordinary, Special, Medisave, Retirement and Investment accounts.
- Latest HDB/Bank statement on the outstanding loan on the property.
- Housing Loan Eligibility if you are proposing for the property to be transferred to you.
- The defendant is required to file his/her memorandum of defence within 21 days from the date he/she receives the originating summons i.e. before the mediation session.
If a compromise can be reached after the mediation session, a settlement agreement will be drafted and a pronouncement / confirmation of Talak & Consent Court Order will pursue and the divorce will be finalised.
However, should it be otherwise, then a pre-trial conference where further directions will entail.
The more difficult the divorce is, the longer it will take to finalise it with some cases can take up to a year or more before the final judgement of divorce can be granted
Getting Your Divorce Certificate
So you see, it is quite a tedious process to undergo and it can be mentally and psychologically testing for parties involved and in particular, for children, should there be any to be in the middle of all these processes.
Do consider your options carefully before embarking on your mission to dissolve your marriage.
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.
Do contact us if you have any questions.