What Are the Legal Grounds for Getting a Muslim Divorce in Singapore?

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muslim divorce in singapore

The procedure followed in a Muslim divorce in Singapore is quite different from the dissolution of a civil marriage. There are certain legal grounds that need to be considered when applying for an Islamic divorce. In Singapore, the Syariah Court has the jurisdiction to handle Islamic marriages and divorces, and they are governed under section 35 of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA). Therefore, if all the involved parties are Muslims or the marriage has taken place under Islamic law, the divorce application will be heard by the Syariah Court. In addition, there are different standards for men and women, and the procedure followed will most likely depend on which party applied for the divorce. Let’s walk through the legal grounds required to obtain a Muslim divorce in Singapore.

Talak: A Dissolution of Marriage Sought by the Husband

If a husband wishes to file for a divorce, he has the right to do so without the need to prove anything. This pronouncement of divorce referred to as “talak”, is an Arabic term that means ‘to release’ or ‘to divorce’. However, this pronouncement is not free from repercussions as he would legally be required to provide financial provisions such as the mutaah and nafkah iddah.

Due to an amendment that took place in October 2018, husbands are permitted to file for a Muslim divorce in Syariah Court without pronouncing talak. However, if the divorce is taking place by mutual consent, the husband can pronounce talak, making way for legal proceedings to be initiated. Furthermore, at the time of a talak pronouncement, the husband must be of sound mind and should also have attained puberty.

Fasakh: An Annulment of a Marriage Initiated by the Wife

If a wife is seeking a divorce, she cannot pronounce the divorce without a cause. This is where fasakh comes into the picture. Under section 49(1) of the AMLA, there are certain legal grounds that may warrant a fasakh, including the following:

  • Failure to provide for the wife’s maintenance for 3 months 
  • Negligence or failure to perform marital obligations for over a year (without a cause)
  • Unreasonable behaviour towards the wife (violence or adultery)
  • Serving a prison sentence that is over three years (without appeal)
  • Impotency at the time of marriage and continues to be so
  • Insane or suffering from a chronic condition (with no cure or a lengthy treatment process) such as to make the continuance of the marriage relationship injurious to her

Cerai Taklik: An Islamic Divorce by Breach of Marriage Conditions

This divorce is provided for under section 48 of the AMLA and can be applied by the wife in the event the husband has breached the conditions stated in their marriage certificate. For instance, if the husband abandons the wife or does not provide any maintenance for over four months, the Syariah Court may decree a divorce. However, this will be carried out after the court has assessed their marriage certificate, which contains the terms of the marriage and conditions.

Khuluk: A Muslim Divorce in Singapore That Occurs by Compensation or Redemption

In this divorce process, the wife can initiate the divorce by paying a sum of money as compensation to the husband. The amount will be determined by the court after assessing the means and status of both parties. A khuluk is usually sought if the wife finds it difficult to live with her husband, and both parties should agree to the divorce. Khuluk is provided for under section 47(4) of AMLA, and following the evaluation of the conditions of both parties, a judgment will be made by the Syariah Court.

Divorces under the Muslim Law in Singapore: Pre-Divorce and Divorce Proceedings

Pre-divorce Proceedings

When applying for an Islamic divorce at the Syariah Court, either party to the marriage  must either be a citizen of Singapore or domiciled in the country. If they are not citizens of Singapore, they must show proof of being habitually resident in Singapore for at least three years immediately before that action or proceeding is commenced.

Divorce Process

In order to initiate a Muslim divorce in Singapore, a divorce application must be filed with the Syariah Court. This is essential to register the divorce, and certain documents (copies), including the marriage certificate, and identification documents (passport or identification card), must be submitted at the time of registration. If the couple has children, they will also be required to hand over a copy of their children’s birth certificate.

Once the registration procedure is in process, both parties will need to attend a Marriage Counselling Program. This counselling program is provided to give them a chance to reconcile. Therefore, both parties must attend the program before the divorce proceedings can be initiated (within six months before filing for the divorce). However, if both parties are not able to reconcile and wish to proceed with the divorce, a date will be given to the filing party so that the Originating Summons and Case Statement can be filed.

If the couple has at least one child who is under 21, they must attend a Parenting Program where a parenting plan will be provided to them. This plan comprises guidelines on how to care for their children and other important matters, such as their living arrangements. Once these procedures are completed, they will then be required to attend mediation at the Syariah Court so that they can discuss a number of issues, such as the division of matrimonial property, child custody, nafkah iddah and mutaah payments and other divorce and ancillary matters.

If the mediation is successful and they are able to come to an agreement, the court will grant the divorce based on the agreed terms. In the event of a disagreement, a date for the pre-trial conference will be given so that they can be advised on what to expect at the trial. The trial must be attended by both parties, and if they have a lawyer representing them, they must attend it as well. During the trial, the judge will hear from both parties about their divorce and ancillary issues before giving his judgment. After the judge has given his decision, a date will be issued so that their divorce certificate and decree can be collected. However, if either party wishes to appeal this decision, they may do so within 30 days from the date of the decision, and it must be filed with the Appeal Board.

Consult a Leading Muslim Divorce Lawyer in Singapore

If you are going through an Islamic divorce or considering an annulment, it is important to have an experienced Muslim divorce lawyer in SG to be by your side. Who better to turn to other than the experts? At A. Rohim Noor Lila LLP, we have a team of Muslim lawyers in Singapore who are well-versed in all aspects of the Syariah law, including divorces, child custody issues and other Syariah-related matters.

We also believe in open communication and encourage a transparent and direct approach so that we can better understand your concerns and expectations. Therefore, if you need a reliable Muslim divorce lawyer in Singapore who will help you achieve a successful resolution while being considerate of you and your family’s emotional requirements, look no further than A. Rohim Noor Lila LLP. Schedule a consultation to meet our lawyers and discuss all your legal concerns today!

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