In divorce proceedings in the Syariah Court, two recurring issues which the Court must determine are:
- the wife’s entitlement to (or the husband’s obligation to pay) Nafkah Iddah and
- the wife’s entitlement to (or the husband’s obligation to pay) Mutaah.
The Syariah Court is empowered to order the payments of Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah in divorce proceedings pursuant to Sections 35(2) and 52(3) of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap. 3).
So, what are Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah?
Nafkah Iddah is maintenance which a husband must provide for his wife over a period of three consecutive months after divorcing her. This period of three months is called the iddah or “waiting period”. During these three months, the wife is obliged under Muslim law to observe certain restrictions, one of which is that she is not permitted to remarry. Also, during this period, the husband and the wife are permitted to reconcile without the need to undergo a marriage solemnization (nikah).
Nafkah Iddah is payable in all cases of divorce, except in cases where the Court is satisfied that the wife has been disobedient to the husband (nuysuz) or when the husband has pronounced an irrevocable divorce (talak tiga or talak ba’in kubra). Also, divorces effected by the pronouncement of talak by the hakam (talak wajib), or by talak tafweed or by way of khuluk do not give rise to the wife’s entitlement to or the husband obligation to pay Nafkah Iddah. In other words, Nafkah Iddah is not payable in these instances of divorce.
Nafkah Iddah is not to be confused with a wife’s entitlement to maintenance or Nafkah during the subsistence of her marriage, i.e. prior to divorce. A wife is entitled to receive maintenance from her husband, and this represents one of the fundamental obligations of a Muslim man towards his wife under Muslim law. A wife who is not paid any maintenance by her husband or who does not receive enough maintenance from her husband may apply to the Family Court for a maintenance order. The Syariah Court does not make such orders.
Likewise, a husband’s obligation to provide regular and sufficient maintenance for his children is a distinct obligation which comes under the purview of the Family Court and not the Syariah Court.
Mutaah, on the other hand, is a consolatory gift from a husband to his divorced wife and is primarily intended to mitigate the sense of shame or loss that is suffered or experienced by the wife as a result of the divorce. Mutaah also serves to compensate or reward the wife for her efforts and services towards the husband and the family generally throughout the course of the marriage. The total amount of Mutaah to be paid to the wife is computed based on the number of days the marriage had lasted. Therefore, the longer the marriage, the higher is the amount of Mutaah that is payable.
Mutaah is payable in all instances of divorce. However, the Syariah Court and the Appeal Board have suggested that Mutaah may not be payable in cases of fasakh under Section 49 of AMLA. However, we are of the view that in certain cases fasakh, Mutaah may still be ordered to be paid on compassionate grounds or on the basis of ihsan.
As with Nafkah Iddah, Mutaah is not to be confused with maintenance which a husband has to provide for his wife during the course of the marriage or to his children.
How Are The Amounts Of Nafkah Iddah And Mutaah Determined?
The law is very clear. The amounts of Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah due from a husband to his divorced wife are to be determined primarily upon the Court’s assessment of the husband’s means.
The term “means” does not equate to only “income” or “salary”. It is broader in meaning in that it includes the husband’s assets of any kind (e.g. CPF monies, car, stocks, bonds, investments, savings, property, and the like) as well as the husband’s financial obligations, liabilities and limitations (e.g. debts, any illness which adversely affects the husband’s earning capacity, any illness which attracts expenses for medication or treatment on a long term basis, the age, qualifications and general employability of the husband, and the like).
Other factors determining the amounts of Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah include the standard of living enjoyed by the husband and the wife prior to the divorce, the needs of the wife, the contributions of the wife during the marriage, etc. The list goes on.
How Are Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah To Be Paid?
Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah may be paid in cash in one lump sum or in cash in monthly installments or from the husband’s share of the proceeds of the sale of the matrimonial home.
What Are The Usual Amounts Of Nafkah Iddah And Mutaah?
As stated above, the amounts of Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah in any given case are determined upon the Court’s assessment of the husband’s means and upon the Court’s consideration of a whole host of factors. Therefore, no two cases, no matter how ‘similar’ they are can result in the same amounts of Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah being ordered.
Having said that, currently, the lowest rate of Nafkah Iddah is between $200.00 and $300.00 per month of iddah, or between $600.00 and $900.00 in total. An income of between $3,000.00 and $5,000.00 per month may attract Nafkah Iddah at the rate of between $300.00 and $500.00 per month of iddah, or between $900.00 and $1,500.00 in total.
As regards Mutaah, currently, the lowest rate is between $2.50 and $3.50 per day of marriage. An income of between $3,000.00 and $5,000.00 per month may attract Mutaah at the rate of between $4.00 and $6.00 per day of marriage.
It must be stressed that the exact amounts of Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah depend very much on the facts of each case. Therefore, it is important that all relevant evidence is presented to the Court for its consideration. The determination of these amounts is therefore an exercise of Court’s discretion which may not be very easily challenged or overturned in an appeal.
How To Enforce Orders For Nafkah Iddah And Mutaah?
If a husband fails or refuses or neglects to pay the Nafkah Iddah and/or Mutaah in the amounts or in the manner ordered by the Court, the wife may seek enforcement of the relevant orders in the Family Court.
We Can Help
If you require help on any matter relating to Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah or require further information or clarification on your entitlement to or your obligation to pay Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah, do not hesitate to contact us via the form below or at telephone number +65 6298 6537. Ask for a free, no-obligation consultation session with our team of experienced and seasoned Syariah lawyers today.