Guide to Divorcing by Khuluk for Muslim Wives in Singapore
What is Khuluk?
Khuluk (or sometimes spelt as “khula“) in the Arabic language means redemption or tebus talak in the Malay language.
In Singapore, if you want to divorce your husband whom you married under Muslim law, you can do so through khuluk where you are required to compensate your husband.
This divorce is a bilateral act that is accomplished by means of appropriate words spoken or written by the divorcing couple or their respective agents. It involves you, the wife, making an offer of compensation and your husband accepting the compensation out of your property to release his marital rights.
The divorce is completed when your husband pronounces talak on you to release you and him from the marriage.
A divorce by khuluk is irrevocable, meaning that the divorced parties will not be able to remarry unless certain conditions have been met.
This article will cover:
- Who can initiate divorce by khuluk?
- How to initiate divorce by khuluk
- What happens after khuluk?
- Can couples remarry after divorcing by khuluk?
Generally, all women who can contract a valid Muslim marriage can initiate divorce proceedings by way of khuluk. This is subject to certain exceptions, depending on the School of Muslim law that you follow:
- According to the Maliki and the Shafii School of Muslim law, if a father sent his daughter into marriage while she is still a minor, her father has the power to consent to a divorce by way of khuluk on her behalf. He can then abandon a portion of her dowry, which is given by her husband, as compensation to obtain the divorce.
- According to the majority of opinions from the Maliki School of Muslim law, a woman who is devoid of intellect is not allowed to enter into a khuluk divorce. The Syariah Court can make a determination on whether someone is devoid of intellect as a finding of fact.
If you follow the Hanafi School of Muslim law, there are different opinions on divorce proceedings by way of khuluk:
- All adult females the exclusive right of entering into a khuluk divorce regardless of whether she has intellect.
- If the wife is a minor, she can authorise her father or her father’s agent to enter into a khuluk divorce on her behalf. If the father promises to pay the compensation for the divorce, then the divorce becomes valid. If the father stipulates that the minor is to pay the compensation, then she has to decide, upon reaching adulthood, whether to accept or reject the arrangement made by her father that she has to pay the compensation.
Other grounds of divorcing your husband are:
- Divorce by cerai taklik (divorce by breach of marriage condition)
- 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. In this case, there will be no requirement that you must provide him with compensation.
How to Initiate Divorce by Khuluk
You can initiate a divorce by khuluk by first making an application to the Syariah Court.
You and your husband must then attend a marriage counselling programme. If both of you have children under 21 years old, you must also attend a parenting programme.
If either or both of you fail to attend the programme, one of you can still proceed to apply for a divorce with the Syariah Court and the court has the discretion to grant the application.
The Syariah Court would require that a summons is served on your husband to enquire if he consents to the divorce.
If your husband agrees to a khuluk divorce
If your husband agrees to a divorce by khuluk, then the Syariah Court may assess the amount of payment you have to make according to the status and means of both you and your husband.
After this, the Syariah Court would have your husband pronounce a divorce by khuluk. You will then have to make payment of the sum to him.
If your husband disagrees to having a khuluk divorce
If your husband does not agree to a divorce by way of khuluk, the Syariah Court may appoint a hakam (arbitrator) for each party to the divorce.
The Syariah Court would refer the matter to the hakam especially where you do not want to return to your husband to continue with the marriage, but your husband does not wish to divorce you and wants you to return to him.
This conduct of the Syariah Court is consistent with Surah 4 (An Nisa), verse 35 of the Holy Quran that states to the effect:
“And if you fear a breach between the husband and wife appoint a hakam (arbitrator) from his family and a hakam from her family, if they desire a reconciliation God will cause them to agree.”
The Syariah Court could also refer your matter to the hakam as part of their determination process so that the hakam can:
- Advise you on withdrawing your application for a divorce.
- Advise you on what would be lost as a result of a divorce and the presenting problems in relation to the children thereafter.
- Advise you on the consequences and repercussions of divorce.
- Advise your husband to release you in an amicable manner as you do not want to preserve the marriage.
- Advise couples proceeding with a divorce that they should not proceed with an irrevocable divorce through khuluk so that the matter would become a revocable divorce. This way, the couple will still be able to get back together if they are able to rekindle their love for one another.
- Advise your husband that the hakam acting for him has a duty to pronounce an obligatory talak on you if there are grounds to do so.
What Happens After Khuluk?
Registering khuluk divorce if husband is agreeable
The Syariah Court will register your divorce after your husband has pronounced talak for divorce by way of khuluk, and you have made payment of khuluk to him.
Registering khuluk divorce if through hakam
During the determination process, the respective hakam will provide advice such as advising your husband to divorce you, as mentioned above.
If the hakam forms the view during the determination process that he is obliged to pronounce the obligatory talak on parties, the hakam has a choice between pronouncing the obligatory talak or the obligatory talak with khuluk.
The pronouncement of talak does not involve any payment of compensation to your husband unless it is through khuluk.
If the hakam proceeds with khuluk, then the Syariah Court will discuss with the hakam on the appropriate sum for redemption under khuluk.
The hakam acting for you will then obtain the money from you to be handed over to the hakam acting for your husband, which is followed by your husband pronouncing the talak on you. The Syariah Court will then register your divorce.
Upon the divorce by way of khuluk, 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
You can obtain nafkah iddah from your husband in a khuluk divorce unless you are found to have been nusyuz. “Nusyuz” means a wife who does not obey her husband.
Read our article on Muslim divorce in Singapore for more information on these ancillary matters.
Can Couples Remarry After Divorcing by Khuluk?
Khuluk is an irrevocable divorce.
An irrevocable divorce means that 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.
Divorce has major consequences and readers should think carefully about whether to go ahead with a divorce by way of khuluk.
We recommend that you consult a Muslim divorce lawyer if you are considering whether a divorce by way of khuluk is the best option in your circumstances.
The lawyer will be able to help you understand the process for a divorce by way of khuluk, if you are entitled to nafkah iddah (as well as its appropriate value) and mutaah, and the appropriate compensation sum to be paid under khuluk.
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