Applying for Nafkah Idaah and Mutaah in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore
Thinking about divorce is never easy. It is further complicated by the many legal questions that you may have, such as whether you, as a wife, can apply for a maintenance order to receive financial support after the divorce.
For Muslim divorces, the Syariah Court does not issue any maintenance orders to wives. Instead, it relies on financial provisions such as the nafkah iddah and mutaah.
What is Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah?
Nafkah iddah is the financial support that your husband is expected to provide you during the period of iddah. Nafkah is the financial obligation of a husband to his wife.
Iddah refers to the waiting period in which a Muslim woman cannot remarry after she has been divorced. This period ensures that no child has been conceived from the previous marriage. It also allows for the possibility of reconciliation as you can revoke your divorce during this period.
Typically, iddah lasts about 3 months, but may continue till childbirth if you are pregnant at the time of divorce. Therefore, you may expect to receive nafkah iddah for at least 3 months.
Mutaah is a sign of your ex-husband’s appreciation of your time, effort and sacrifice during the marriage. Its purpose is to lighten your financial burden after the divorce.
Men are not permitted to claim nafkah iddah or mutaah from their ex-wives.
What is the Amount of Nafkah Iddah or Mutaah I Can Obtain?
There is no fixed amount for the nafkah iddah or mutaah. Usually, the wife suggests an amount during the divorce proceedings. The court will then consider all relevant factors in determining the final amount.
For nafkah iddah, the court will try to strike a balance between your husband’s financial ability and your needs.
Mutaah is calculated based on a daily rate for the duration of the marriage. Generally, you can expect between S$3 and S$7 per day of marriage if your ex-husband earns between S$3,000 and S$5,000 monthly.
The court will also consider other factors in its decision. This includes:
- Any profit from the sale of the matrimonial home;
- The absence of a matrimonial home;
- Any non-monetary contribution to the marriage;
- The employment status of both parties; and
- The monies in the CPF accounts of both parties.
How to Apply For Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah in Singapore
As mentioned above, the Syariah Court determines the nafkah iddah and mutaah during the divorce proceedings. The Syariah Court website provides a more detailed look at this process. In summary, it involves the following steps:
- Registering for divorce at the Syariah Court: To register, you must complete a registration form and furnish your marriage certificate, NRIC, and birth certificates of your children (if any). The registration fee is S$100.
- Counselling: Next, both parties must attend a compulsory Marriage Counselling Programme before they can begin divorce proceedings. The counselling aims to save the marriage and is provided free-of-charge. If counselling fails, the Syariah Court will permit the party initiating the divorce (known as the plaintiff) to file the Originating Summons (see below).
- Parenting Programme: If you have children younger than 21, you are also required to attend a Parenting Programme. The Parenting Programme will help you prepare a parenting plan that may cover caring/living arrangements for your children after the divorce.
- Filing of the Originating Summons: The Originating Summons is the document that kicks off the divorce proceedings. It will cost the plaintiff about S$135. The Originating Summons must include the following documents:
- A completed Case Statement by the plaintiff (this document contains the amount of nafkah iddah and mutaah requested by the plaintiff);
- A blank Memorandum of Defence to be completed by the defendant;
- A parenting plan for any minor children;
- A matrimonial property plan and information on any housing arrangement; and
- Acknowledge of Service form to be completed by the defendant upon receipt of the Originating Summons.
- Mediation: The court will try to resolve any issues of child custody, division of matrimonial assets, and the nafkah iddah and mutaah at this stage. If an agreement can be reached, the court will grant a divorce according to the agreed terms. Otherwise, the court will schedule a Case Conference where both parties will receive further directions on the trial.
- Trial: The court will hear both parties and make its final decision on the divorce issues. At the end of the trial, the court will set a date for both parties to collect their Divorce Certificates and Decree.
What If My Ex-Husband Refuses to Pay Nafkah Iddah and Mutaah?
You will have to enforce the nafkah idaah and mutaah orders at the Family Justice Courts (FJC). This is because although they are Syariah Court Orders, they are treated as FJC Orders for enforcement purposes.
Before going down to the FJC, you are encouraged to submit your draft application and related documents through iFAMS. iFAMS is the FJC’s online application system. It allows you to make your draft application online and submit a copy of your supporting documents. Although not compulsory, doing so may speed up the application process. Alternatively, you can apply directly at the FJC to have your order enforced.
Regardless of whether you applied through iFAMS or directly at the FJC, you will need to verify your documents in person. Do take note of FJC’s opening hours before going down. You can set an appointment date through iFAMS if you submit your draft application online.
You will need to bring the following documents with you:
- Your NRIC;
- A photocopy of your marriage certificate;
- A photocopy of the birth certificate of your children (if any); and
- A photocopy of the nafkah idaah or mutaah order that you want enforced.
After the application has been processed, the court will issue a summons for your ex-husband to appear before it on the first mention date. The first mention is the first time your application will be heard in court. You can choose to engage a lawyer at this point.
If your ex-husband agrees to have the application enforced at the first mention, the court will issue a consent order. Otherwise, the court may appoint a mediator to resolve the matter. The court will fix a date for mediation at the Maintenance Mediation Chambers.
If even after mediation, your ex-husband disagrees on having the application enforced, the court will instruct both you and your ex-husband to prepare for a hearing. The court will direct you on the process and the documents that you will need to submit for the hearing.
After you have submitted the documents, a hearing date will be fixed. At the hearing, the court will hear both sides of the matter and make a decision on your enforcement application. There are several actions available to the court if it decides in your favour. It can:
- Fine or imprison your ex-husband for up to 1 month;
- Give an attachment of earnings order, which requires your ex-husband’s employers to deduct the maintenance amount directly from his salary and pay it to the court;
- Order financial counselling for your ex-husband if he is in financial difficulties; or
- Order your ex-husband to perform up to 40 hours of unpaid community service.
If you are not satisfied with the court’s decision, you can appeal to the General Division of the High Court. This must be done within 14 days of the decision. You will also be required to provide a security of up to $3,000 for your ex-husband’s costs of appeal.
Can I Still Claim Maintenance If I Divorced Outside of Singapore?
Yes, you can. The Court of Appeal has decided that Singapore courts can grant maintenance orders for Muslim divorces even if the divorce was obtained outside of Singapore.
A divorce can be difficult to get through. A good lawyer can help you navigate any legal challenges. Do consider allowing our Syariah divorce lawyers to help you through this difficult time.
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