Divorce

 
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Divorce

In Malaysia, there are two types of divorce of marriage for non-Muslims:
1) Divorce by mutual consent, i.e. both parties agree to the divorce
2) Divorce without mutual consent

DIVORCE BY MUTUAL CONSENT (JOINT PETITION)

Both parties to the marriage can jointly file a divorce where they can mutually agree to divorce. By a joint petition, both parties can freely decide on the maintenance for wife and children, custody and care of the children, division of matrimonial assets.

DIVORCE WITHOUT MUTUAL CONSENT (UNILATERAL/ SINGLE PETITION)

Either party to a marriage may file a petition to divorce without consent of the other party, on the ground that the marriage has broken down. The break down of the marriage can be grounded one of the reasons as follows:

1) that the other party has committed adultery;
2) that the other party has behaved in such a way that it cannot reasonably be expected to live together;
3) that the other party has deserted for a continuous period of at least 2 years; OR
4) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 2 years.

Common misconception: The parties to the marriage must be living apart for more than 2 years before a divorce can be filed.
Answer: No, not necessary. Living apart for more than 2 years is merely a reason to file for single petition divorce. There are other reasons to file for divorce as mentioned above.

WHO HAS THE RIGHT OVER THE CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN?

In a joint petition, both parties can mutually agree to propose any arrangement for the children, including joint custody after divorce.

In a single petition, either party can make application for the custodianship. The court will decide the custodianship after considering all factors including: 1) The welfare of the children 2) The wishes of the parents 3) The wishes of the child if the child is eligible to express an independent opinion.
There is a rebuttable presumption that the custodianship of a child below 7 years belongs to the mother. Kindly take note that this is a presumption which is rebuttable by the father.

WHO HAS THE RIGHT & INTEREST OVER MATRIMONIAL PROPERTY?

In a joint petition, both parties can mutually agree to propose any arrangement in relation to the property.

In a single petition, either party can make application for the division of matrimonial property. If the property is acquired by the sole effort of the party, the court may divide the property as the court thinks reasonable. The party upon whose effort the assets were acquired will receive a greater proportion. If the property is acquired by joint effort, the court may divide the property as the court thinks reasonable after considering factors like the extent of the contributions made by each party. The definition of contribution is inclusive of both financial contribution, and non-financial contribution.

WIFE & CHILDREN'S MAINTENANCE

Wife's maintenance and children's maintenance has to be identified separately in a divorce petition.
In a joint petition, both parties can mutually agree to propose any arrangement for the maintenance.

In a single petition, either party can make application for the maintenance and ancillary relief. The court will decide after considering all factors including 1) the needs of the wife / children 2) the living standard of the parties during marriage 3) the income of the parties.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR A DIVORCE MATTER TO BE COMPLETED?

The actual time needed for may vary in each and every single case depending on the following factors: 1. The date of hearing granted by the court (whether it is early or late) 2. The complexity of the case 3. The time needed for both parties to reach a settlement (for joint petition's case) 4. The efficiency of the lawyer appointed.

Generally, a joint petition divorce matter takes 5 to 6 months to be completed while a unilateral petition divorce (without mutual consent) matter takes more time to be completed. The divorce matter could take more time if it is contested.

WHAT IS THE BRIEF & GENERAL PROCEDURE FOR JOINT PETITION TO DIVORCE?

1) Consult a lawyer.
2) With lawyer's advice, discuss and make settlement with your spouse for the arrangement of children, property & maintenance (if any).
3) Sign the divorce petition and related documents prepared by your lawyer.
4) Wait for the hearing date after the filing of your application in the High Court.
5) Attend the hearing with your lawyer (if you or your spouse cannot attend the hearing, kindly refer to your lawyer for solutions)
6) Obtain divorce certificate three months after a divorce order is granted by the judge.

Note:
1) Parties do not need to attend any JPN tribunal for joint petition to divorce.
2) Parties do not need to be separated for 2 years before a joint petition to divorce can be filed.
3) Parties do not need to specify the reason for divorce in joint petition.

WHO SHOULD BEAR THE LEGAL FEE? HUSBAND/ WIFE?

For joint petition matter, there are two choices: 1) Either party pay for the whole legal fee 2) Both parties share the legal fee in a proportion that is mutually agreed
For single petition matter, each party has to bear their own legal fee generally.

 

HOW MUCH IS THE LEGAL FEES?

Generally, a joint petition's legal fee is cheaper than a single petition's (without mutual consent). The legal fee chargeable varies from one case to another depending on the following factors:

1) The complexity of the case as it affects the amount of time and skill a lawyer requires;
2) The complexity of the Petition's Content (i.e. The complexity of the Divorce Arrangement & Settlement)
3) Whether or not the divorce petition is contested. Legal fee for contested matter is generally higher than uncontested matter.

FURTHER INQUIRIES

Contact Our Panel Lawyers / The Author of this Article.

Other FAQs:

Foreign Marriage/ Divorce
Q: I am a foreigner in Malaysia who has registered my marriage overseas. Can I file for a divorce here?
A: Yes, if you are residing in Malaysia even if your marriage is not registered in Malaysia.

Q: I am a Malaysian who is residing overseas now. Can I file for a divorce in Malaysia?
A: Yes, you can sign the divorce documents overseas, and engage a lawyer to file your divorce in Malaysia.

Q: I am a Malaysian who had registered my marriage in Malaysia/ Embassy of Malaysia. I have obtained a divorce certificate from overseas, but is my divorce certificate recognized in Malaysia?
A: No. Your overseas divorce certificate is not recognized in Malaysia. You need to engage a lawyer to apply for local court's declaration to give legal effect to your overseas divorce certificate, and update your marital status in JPN ("Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara"/ National Registration Department)

Two Years Separation Requirement

Q: Can I file for divorce within 2 years of my marriage?
A: Yes. It's possible.

Q: Do I need to separate with my spouse for 2 years before a divorce can be filed?
A: No, not necessary.

Q: Do I get 'automatic' divorce when I have separated with my spouse for more than 2 years?
A: No. You will still need to apply for the divorce in court.

JPN
Q: Can I get a divorce by applying from JPN ("Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara" / National Registration Department) without engaging a lawyer?
A: No.

Q: I have attended JPN's tribunal for 3 times, am I considered divorced?
A: No. You need to engage a lawyer to proceed for divorce.

Q: My divorce certificate is granted overseas. Can I submit the divorce certificate to JPN for them to update my marital status?
A: No. Your overseas divorce certificate is not recognized in Malaysia. You need to engage a lawyer to apply for local court's declaration to give legal effect to your overseas divorce certificate, and update your marital status in JPN ("Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara"/ National Registration Department)

Spouse's Issues
Q: My spouse refuses to divorce. Can I still file for a divorce?
A: Yes.

Q: My spouse refuses to sign any divorce document. Can I still file for a divorce?
A: Yes.

Q: I have lost the contact of my spouse/ my spouse has gone missing. Can I still file for a divorce?
A: Yes.

Q: My spouse is residing in overseas now. Can I still file for a divorce?
A: Yes.

Annulment
Q: What is annulment of marriage? Can I file for annulment?
Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Please refer to a lawyer for more information.



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