Divorce by Cerai Taklik: Guide for Muslim Wives in Singapore
What is Cerai Taklik?
The word “cerai” means “divorce” in the Malay language while “taklik” means “special condition” in the Arabic language.
This article will explain:
- Who will pronounce the taklik?
- When can a taklik be made?
- Examples of taklik
- Who can initiate a Muslim divorce by cerai taklik in Singapore?
- How to initiate a Muslim divorce by cerai taklik in Singapore
- What happens after cerai taklik?
- Can couples remarry after divorcing by cerai taklik?
Who Will Pronounce the Taklik?
Under Muslim law, a marriage is a civil contract where its validity depends on one side making a proposal while the other side expresses acceptance. This contract is complete if the parties to the contract understand its nature and mutually consent to it.
Singapore’s custom for a Muslim marriage ceremony involves the taklik being pronounced by your husband during the marriage ceremony to formulate a condition to protect you, the woman.
If your husband breaches a taklik (and therefore the marriage contract), then you can be freed from the marriage through a divorce by way of cerai taklik. To find a breach of taklik, you must prove that your husband had breached the taklik.
When Can a Taklik be Made?
The Administration of Muslim Law Act states that a written taklik can be made at the time of or after your marriage to your husband.
This means that even after the marriage ceremony with your husband, you and your husband can still make amendments to your taklik.
Examples of Taklik
In a Muslim marriage contract issued in Singapore, there is a set of standard taklik that is found at the reverse side of the marriage contract.
The set of standard taklik covers three distinct situations where you may be divorced by one talak if your husband breaches any one of them:
- If your husband leaves you for 4 months or more (whether intentionally or unintentionally);
- If your husband failed to maintain you for 4 months or more, whereas you were obedient to him; or
- On every occasion that your husband caused any injury to your body or damage to your property, or caused you to lose your self-respect.
Who Can Initiate a Muslim Divorce by Cerai Taklik in Singapore?
The Administration of Muslim Law Act provides that the wife can initiate a divorce by cerai taklik. You will rely on the written taklik in your marriage contract that was breached by your husband when making your application for divorce against him.
Other methods for a Muslim wife to divorce her husband are:
- Khuluk (divorce by paying compensation/redemption to your husband)
- Fasakh (dissolution of the marriage by judicial decree)
If it is your husband who wants to divorce you, he can initiate the divorce by simply pronouncing talak on you.
How to Initiate a Muslim Divorce by Cerai Taklik in Singapore
Applying to the Syariah Court
To initiate a divorce by cerai taklik, there must be a breach of taklik by your husband. You may then begin the divorce process by making an application to the Syariah Court to declare that a divorce has taken place.
The Syariah Court then has to examine the written taklik and make enquiries into the validity of the divorce, to be satisfied that it is valid according to the Muslim law, before confirming the divorce.
Syariah Court examination of the taklik
Conditions in a Muslim marriage that are opposed to public morality are illegal and void without touching the validity of the marriage. This means that the condition is not enforceable, but the marriage remains intact.
An example of a taklik that is void is one made to the effect that your husband shall have no right to prevent you from frequenting immoral places.
Hence, when the Syariah Court examines a taklik and finds that it is opposed to public morality, the court may not rule your divorce as valid despite your claim that your husband has breached that taklik. Your marriage will remain intact as a result.
However, your adherence to a particular school of Muslim law (such as Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, or Hanbali) will affect the legal powers you can exercise under Muslim law (see below).
Effect of your school of Muslim law in examining a taklik
If you follow the Hanafi school of Muslim law and Hanbali school of Muslim law, a taklik can stipulate that your husband is prohibited from engaging in a polygamous marriage without your consent while you are still alive, and that his breach of the taklik entitles you to divorce him with one talak.
However, if you follow the Shafi’i school of Muslim law, a taklik prohibiting your husband from taking another wife while he is still married to you is considered illegal.
This means that even though you are able to prove that your husband had taken on another wife in breach of the taklik that prohibits him from doing so, the Syariah Court would find that that taklik is illegal under the Shafi’i school of Muslim law, and that the resulting divorce due to the breach of the taklik is hence invalid.
Proving a breach of taklik
Some examples of proving a breach of taklik are:
- Obtaining an admission by your husband that he has breached the taklik;
- The Syariah Court recording the sworn testimonies of your witnesses and yourself, where these testimonies go towards proving that there was a breach of taklik; and/or
- By way of a trial if you and your husband have conflicting and opposing statements on what had actually transpired. The Syariah Court would have to hear the evidence of the witnesses, and see the demeanour and conduct of those witnesses, when deciding whether there was a breach of taklik.
What Happens After Cerai Taklik?
Upon registering the divorce by way of cerai taklik, the Syariah Court will also deal with the following where applicable:
- Custody of children
- Division of matrimonial property
- Payment of nafkah iddah and mutaah from the husband to the wife
Read our article on Muslim divorce in Singapore for more information on these ancillary matters.
Can Couples Remarry After Divorcing by Cerai Taklik?
If you were divorced by one talak due to your husband’s breach of the set of standard taklik mentioned above, then it is a revocable divorce where the both of you may be remarried to one another after the divorce. This is because the Syariah Court views a divorce by one talak to be a revocable divorce.
This is unlike an irrevocable divorce, where the marriage is ended without the possibility of the same couple remarrying. This is unless the ex-wife has been lawfully remarried to another person and then divorced after consummation of that marriage to that third-party.
Divorcing has major consequences and readers should think carefully about whether to go ahead.
We recommend that you consult a Muslim divorce lawyer if you are considering a Muslim divorce by cerai taklik in Singapore. The lawyer will be able to help you understand if your taklik is either illegal or void and whether your evidence supports an application for divorce by cerai taklik.
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