Syariah Divorce In Singapore (Male Grounds Of Divorce)
“Talak,”, “Khuluk”, “Taklik” and “Fasakh” are one of the many terms one may be familiar with in Syariah Law – but what do they exactly mean, and how can these methods be applied to a Muslim divorce in Singapore? Explore the different components of Syariah divorce in Singapore with Syariah Divorce In Singapore (Male Grounds Of Divorce), Syariah Divorce In Singapore (Female Grounds Of Divorce), Schools Of Thought In Syariah Divorce and FAQs on Syariah Divorce.
Overview Of The Syariah Court In Singapore
Singapore’s Syariah Court derives jurisdiction from the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA). AMLA provides for various aspects of Muslim law in Singapore. For example, AMLA provides for the establishment of key Muslim institutions such as the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore (MUIS) to administer the religious life of Muslims, the Registry of Muslim Marriages and the Syariah Court to deal with Muslim family law.
According to Section 35(2) of AMLA, the Syariah Court deals with “actions and proceedings in which all the parties are Muslims or where the parties were married under the provisions of Muslim law”. Thus, this includes Muslim marriages and divorces. The Syariah Court also has jurisdiction over Muslim marriages where one party has renounced Islam during the course of marriage, and marriages that were first registered under the Women’s Charter and subsequently registered under Muslim law at the Registry of Muslim Marriages after one party converted to Islam. Before acquiring jurisdiction, the Syariah Court must first determine that the parties involved are in fact Muslim. When the Syariah Court assumes jurisdiction over divorce proceedings, it would also have jurisdiction to make orders relating to matrimonial properties situated both within and outside Singapore. This is regardless of whether a court in another country also has jurisdiction over the case and the matrimonial properties. However, the Syariah Court has no power to grant personal protection orders (PPOs) or to hear applications for children’s maintenance. These matters are dealt with by the Family Justice Courts.
A Husband’s Grounds of Divorce
As of August 2017, Parliament amended the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA) to include a clause saying men can apply for divorce without having to first say the Arabic word “Talak”. The reason as accounted by a Syariah Court spokesman is to prevent inconsequential pronouncements of “Talak” by husbands for a fast and convenient solution to marital problems. “Talak” is customarily uttered to initiate a Muslim divorce. Upon pronouncing three divorces, on three different occasions, the man can neither take back his former wife, nor remarry her. However, the recent amendment in Parliament does not penalise the pronouncement of talak outside of the Syariah Court. A Muslim man may continue with the existing practice of uttering talak if he chooses to do so. On the other hand, The Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP), which the Syariah Court refers to for its marriage counselling programme, said more than half of its clients retract the utterance of talak. In such cases, seeking a divorce first may meet the Parliament’s amendment aim of reducing divorce rates.
How Can Talak Be Applied?
Due to the financial responsibilities which a Muslim husband has to bear in Islam, the immediate right to divorce in Islam is primarily given to the husband, whereas a woman can seek a divorce through three other means (read Syariah Divorce in Singapore – A Woman’s Grounds Of Divorce)
– It is recommended for there to be two witnesses present on the occasion of the pronouncement of such a divorce. – A man should divorce only once – A man should divorce only during the time when his wife is not on her menstruation – A man should not divorce his wife while she is pregnant with his child – A man should divorce only when there has been no sexual contact with her since the time of her last menstruation. – Such a form of marital dissolution initiated by the Muslim husband does not require him to prove the grounds of divorce; the divorce is effected solely because he does not wish to remain married to her.
Upon the husband’s pronounciation of “Talak”, the parties can legally file for divorce at the Syariah Court. “Talak” is commonly pronounced outside court, so both parties would have to appear before the Syariah Court within seven days of the pronouncement to provide details and particulars to the court. Thereafter, they would have to register for the Marriage Counselling Programme before initiating divorce proceedings. In Singapore, the husband’s intention in pronouncing “Talak” is taken into consideration by the Syariah Court. The statement must have been clear and unequivocal, with a real intention of divorce. The husband may divorce his wife three times, and is allowed to take his wife back after the first two pronouncements of talak. If the husband pronounces talak three times, then according to Islamic law he would no longer be allowed to revoke the divorce or to remarry his wife again The only exception to this would be if his wife marries another man in good faith. The husband would be allowed to remarry the wife again after the breakdown of this supervening marriage, even if he had previously pronounced “Talak” on the wife thrice.
Once parties have filled in and submitted a registration form, the process will take about 4 to 6 weeks. Thereafter, both parties would be required to attend mandatory counselling for a period of 2 to 4 months to ensure their certainty in going forward with divorce procedures. Should counselling fail, the Syariah Court will arrange for the initiating party to file a case statement that sets out the grounds for divorce. The Syariah Court would then prepare an Originating Summons (OS) and proceed to serve it on the other party as defendant. Note that the OS can be filed by either party in person without the help of lawyers, and that the court would assist in serving the papers on the defendant.
After the OS is filed and served, mediation is the first court session for Muslim parties applying for divorce at the Syariah Court. This means that parties must undergo mediation before the case proceeds to a hearing. At the mediation, parties would discuss the divorce and ancillary matters. Where parties agree, the mediation agreement would be recorded by the mediator and can later be converted into a consent order for divorce.
After a waiting period of 2 weeks, the Decree of Divorce will be issued. 3 months thereafter (iddah period), a divorce certificate would be issued and parties would be legally divorced.
Where mediation fails and parties cannot reach an agreement, the case would proceed to pre-trial conference(s) where the Syariah Court would order for documents to be produced and for each party’s pleadings to be filed. During the pre-trial conferences, a hearing date would also be set. At the hearing, the Syariah Court would hear both the issues of the divorce and the ancillary matters simultaneously.
After the hearings have been completed, the Syariah Court would issue a court order stating its decision on the divorce and ancillary matters. Note that at any point during Syariah Court divorce proceedings, parties may agree to have questions of custody, access to children or division of matrimonial assets to be moved from the Syariah Court to the Family Justice Courts. Even in the absence of agreement by both parties, the Syariah Court may also grant permission in appropriate cases for one party to raise these matters at the Family Courts. However, the parties must first undergo counselling at the Syariah Court before the matters can be transferred to the Family Court.
In the event that you do not agree with the decision of the Court, you may file an appeal to the Appeal Board within 30 days from the date of the decision. Do seek legal advice from your lawyers to ensure that your appeal is validated and substantiated before filing for one. The Appeal Board is located at Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), Singapore Islamic Hub, 273 Braddell Road, Singapore 579702.
How we can help
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 and every 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 [email protected] or call us at 6589 8913.
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