Talak! Talak! Talak, Syariah Divorce in Singapore.

Talak! Talak! Talak, Syariah Divorce in Singapore.

Divorce. It’s one of those topics that people simply don’t like to discuss. Especially if you’re a Muslim having trouble with your marriage. But just like other taboo issues, simply not talking about it does not mean that it will go away. If you are thinking of filing for a divorce but are unclear on what grounds to divorce on, worry not. This article will shed some light on the things you will need to know if you are thinking about how to get a Muslim divorce.

Application of Muslim Law

A Muslim divorce in Singapore has different considerations and procedures as opposed to a divorce from a Civil Marriage. Under Section 35 of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA), the Syariah Court “shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine all actions and proceedings which involve marriage and divorce where “all the parties are Muslims or where the parties married under the provisions of Muslim law.”

 

This means that the Syariah Court of Singapore will hear any divorce application of a Muslim marriage and Syariah Law will apply.

 

A divorce application for a civil marriage, on the other hand, will be heard in the Family Court, which is part of the State Courts. The Women’s Charter governs the law on divorce for civil marriages in Singapore. The State Courts won’t have any jurisdiction over matters related to marriage and divorce over the Syariah Court.

Requirements for a Muslim Divorce

If you intend to get a divorce under the Syariah Court, there are some requirements that you must first fulfill.

 

Firstly, your marriage must be a Muslim marriage, meaning both you and your spouse must have professed to the Muslim religion and were solemnized under Muslim law. It is important to note that both parties must be Muslim in the marriage to be able to apply for a divorce under the Syariah Court as AMLA will apply to the marriage. Whereas if either of you in the marriage is a non-Muslim, then the Women’s Charter will apply.

 

Secondly, you must have also attended the counseling sessions under the Marriage Counselling Programme (MCP). Counselling has been part of the Syariah Court’s divorce procedure since 1955.

 

Couples who are referred for counseling under MCP are not required to pay any fee but will be required to attend the session based on the scheduled date. Once the MCP has concluded, you will be required to inform your counselor of your decision to continue with the divorce or reconcile with your spouse. The Syariah Court will follow up accordingly with you should you and your spouse choose to divorce.

Ways to Divorce under AMLA

There are four types of divorce under AMLA that you could utilize as grounds for divorce:

 

Pronouncing Talak by Husband

 

Talak comes from the Arabic word which means “to release” or in this case, “to divorce.” Practically, it allows the husband to apply for a divorce and he will not have to prove that his wife has done any wrong to obtain one.

 

Your husband can pronounce talak either in private or in front of the Judge. If the talak was pronounced in a private setting, you would need to submit an application for divorce to the Syariah Court.

 

Talak can be pronounced up to three times to your wife. If he pronounces one or two talak only, his wife is considered divorced but may not remarry another person for another one hundred days. During this period known as iddah, the husband is allowed to change his mind and reconcile his wife. If there is no reconciliation, the divorce becomes final on the expiry of the hundredth day. When a man has pronounced three talaks, on three different occasions, he can neither take back his former wife nor remarry her.

 

Due to the financial responsibilities which the husband has to bear, the right to divorce in Islam is primarily given to the husband. If the wife is the one seeking a divorce, she will be required to prove at least one of the following: khuluk, breach of taklik or fasakh. The exception is if she obtains the consent of her husband, upon which the Court shall cause the husband to pronounce the talak.

 

Khuluk by the Wife

 

Khuluk translates directly into the right of a woman to seek a divorce from her husband. Also known as a divorce by redemption, the wife will be the one seeking a divorce and will be granted by the husband some form of compensation. Usually, this compensation is a sum of money or an amount in kind, based on the Court’s assessment of the status and wealth of the parties.

 

A wife that seeks for a khuluk would usually do due to incompatibilities that may have arisen between her and her spouse. An example of this would be when there is a concern on the part of both parties on their inability to abide by the laws of Islam.
If the husband does not agree to a divorce by khuluk, the Court or the Registrar of the Court may appoint a hakam, or more commonly known as arbitrators under Section 50 of AMLA to assist the situation.

 

Breach of Taklik Conditions

 

Taklik is essentially a stipulation of the rights and responsibilities between the bride and groom which is undertaken by both parties during the marriage. Akin to a vow, it is included in the akta nikah (document of marriage). What a taklik contains are promises of a divorce based on certain or specific conditions that may happen between the two. An example of a Taklik spoken during the akad nikah (solemnization) will be “leaving my wife (her name) for a continuous period of 4 months or more, intentionally or unintentionally.” A breach of these conditions can be used by the wife as grounds for divorce.

 

The wife will have the burden to show to the Syariah Court that her husband has breached their taklik. The Syariah Court will then examine the written taklik and in turn, confirm the divorce if it decides that the divorce is valid and in accordance with Muslim law.

 

Fasakh

 

Lastly, fasakh is the final mode of divorce in a Muslim marriage. Fasakh is an annulment of the marriage which can occur under any valid reason under the Hukum Syara. Section 49(1) of AMLA provides a non-exhaustive list on the grounds that the wife may be annulled. For example, a husband that has been sentenced to imprisonment for 3 years or upwards and such sentence has become final, or a husband who treats their wife with cruelty by forcing her to lead an immoral life are some instances where the Syariah Court will allow for a fasakh under Muslim law. The husband’s failure to perform marital duties for one year will also constitute as a breach. Besides summoning the husband, the Court is also required to record the sworn statement of the woman and at least two witnesses.

What if I don’t Meet Any of These Criteria?

In the event the Muslim wife is unable to invoke taklik, fasakh or khuluk but still wish to file for divorce, both parties will have to go for arbitration based on the principles of the Quran.

 

The Syariah Court may also appoint a hakam (arbitrators) for each party to act on behalf of the husband and wife respective on the divorce. Often the case, close relatives of the parties will act as the hakam due to their knowledge of the circumstances between the two spouses.

 

The appointed hakam will conduct the arbitration with instruction from the Syariah Court as well as per Muslim Law. The purpose of the hakam is to assist in reconciling the two parties, but if reconciliation is not possible, the hakam may obtain authority from their principals (the husband and wife) to decree for a divorce and report it back to the Court.

How Can We Help You

Understanding the rules and conditions behind a talak, khuluk, taklik, and fasikh will go a long way in identifying your options when considering a divorce.

 

That being said, filing for a Muslim divorce and the divorce procedures in Singapore are delicate issues and may be too technical for you to fully understand alone. We understand that going through such an event in your life is difficult and emotional. At I.R.B Law we have experienced lawyers who are well versed in Civil and Syariah divorce proceedings who will be able to guide you through and explain to you throughout each stage of your divorce. So contact us so that we can advise you on your matter and help you focus on getting back up on your feet. Our first consultation is usually free as we wish to focus on you and not your wallet. Don’t hesitate and reach us at Hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at 6298 2537.

 

The information contained in this article is provided for general information only and may not reflect current status in relation to applicable law, cases, settlements or judgments. Nothing contained on this website or article is intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be construed as I.R.B Law LLP agreeing to provide legal services to you. You acknowledge and agree that your use of this website shall not create a lawyer-client relationship with I.R.B Law LLP.