Talak in a Muslim Divorce in Singapore (and Its Effects)
What is Talak?
Under Muslim law, the pronouncement of the word “talak“, which means “to release” or “to divorce”, is done when a husband wants to divorce his wife in a Muslim marriage. This is just one of several grounds to obtain a divorce from a Muslim marriage in Singapore.
Pronouncements by a Muslim husband in matters of marriage, divorce, and revocation of a divorce has serious consequences even if they are done jokingly. This is because once such pronouncement is made, it is deemed valid and results in a divorce.
As a result, you are cautioned not to pronounce talak or the different forms of the word talak to your wife even if it was done jokingly or unintentionally. You should do so only if you intend to divorce her.
Examples of pronouncing talak are:
- “I (pronounce) talak on you”
- “I divorce you by one or two or three talak“
- “I release you by giving you three talaks according to the Muhammadan scriptures”
This article will cover:
- Who can initiate a Muslim divorce in Singapore by pronouncing talak?
- Types of talak
- Whether after talak is pronounced, the couple is immediately considered as divorced?
- Whether the same couple or the ex-wife can remarry after divorcing by talak?
If you are the husband and want to initiate the divorce, you need only pronounce talak and you can then apply to the Syariah Court for a divorce as of right. You do not have to prove anything to obtain the divorce.
However, you must be of sound mind and have attained puberty at the time of pronouncing talak.
If you are the wife and want a divorce, you are unable to pronounce talak against your husband.
However, you can pronounce talak on yourself according to “talak tafwidh” when your husband has delegated his authority to pronounce talak to you and you accept his delegation. This is done by saying:
“I accept the authorisation given by my husband to divorce myself. I hereby divorce myself from my husband with one talak.”
Otherwise, a woman wanting a divorce must prove at least one of the other grounds:
- Khuluk (divorce by redemption or compensation)
- Divorce by cerai taklik (divorce by breach of marriage condition)
- Fasakh (dissolution of the marriage by judicial decree)
The difference between a khuluk and a talak tafwidh is that as a rule under khuluk, you must compensate your husband in order to terminate the marriage. This payment is a redemption and an essential ingredient because it is valid only if compensation is paid by the wife to the husband.
Types of Talak
There are a few different types of talak:
- Talak Kinayah
- Talak Sarih
- Talak Bain or Talak Bid’a
- Talak Tafwidh
- Talak Wajib by the hakam (arbitrator)
A talak kinayah is defined as a pronouncement that is ambiguous regarding its purpose to indicate a divorce. Examples of talak kinayah are:
- “You go back to your parents”
- “You may marry someone else”
- “I have no wish for you anymore”
These types of pronouncements can be interpreted to mean something else besides a divorce and their meaning depends on the husband’s intention when making the pronouncement.
A talak sarih is defined as a clear pronouncement of talak as to its purpose to obtain a divorce. There is no need to examine the husband’s intention when making the pronouncement.
Examples of talak sarih are as mentioned above (such as “I (pronounce) talak on you”), and will be the focus of this article.
Talak Bain or Talak Bid’a
A talak bain or talak bid’a is an irrevocable divorce by pronouncing three talaks at short intervals, or in close succession, or together.
An irrevocable divorce means that the marriage is ended without the possibility of the same couple remarrying, except after the ex-wife has been lawfully remarried to another person and then divorced after consummation of that marriage to that third-party.
As mentioned earlier, a talak tafwidh is a pronouncement of talak by the wife on herself once her husband has delegated his authority to pronounce talak on her and she accepts his delegation.
Prior to the Syariah Court making an order or decree of talak, the court may appoint an arbitrator (i.e. hakam) to act for the husband and wife respectively according to Muslim law. The hakam‘s role is to try getting parties to reconcile and to report the result of their arbitration to the Syariah Court.
The hakam will also try to get the full authority from the spouse they represent, which includes making a decree of divorce, and reporting the decree to the Syariah Court to register the divorce. This type of divorce is called talak wajib.
The Syariah Court will examine the hakam’s report and if the court accepts the report’s recommendation for divorce, then the couple is divorced by pronouncement of talak wajib by the hakam on the couple.
After Talak Is Pronounced, Is the Couple Immediately Considered as Divorced?
The pronouncement of talak results in a divorce. However, there are a few procedures you must comply with to formalise the divorce. This includes attending the relevant programmes (below) before applying to the Syariah Court.
Attend marriage counselling and (if applicable) parenting programme
Generally, no application for a divorce can be made to the Syariah Court, until you and your wife have attended:
- A marriage counselling programme.
- (If both of you have children under 21 years old) A parenting programme.
If either one of you fail to attend the programme(s), the court may order a stay (i.e. suspension) of divorce proceedings until you do so, or order you to pay costs.
Nevertheless, the court has the discretion to grant a divorce application, made by either party, without the programme(s) having been attended, if it deems fit.
Application to Syariah Court
After you have pronounced talak to divorce your wife and attended the relevant programmes, you should apply to the Syariah Court to register the divorce. For example, you can pronounce talak to your wife over the telephone and have it recorded by the Syariah Court.
If the divorce is carried out in Singapore, you and your wife must go to the Syariah Court within 7 days, or such time extended by the Syariah Court, from the pronouncement of talak, to give details and apply for a decree or order for divorce.
Examination of talak
Once the matter proceeds to the Syariah Court, the court will carry out an inquiry to be satisfied that your divorce is valid according to Muslim law. This means examining the pronouncement of talak and whether it amounts to a valid divorce.
The court considers the following when examining the pronouncement of talak:
- Whether the pronouncement of talak is clear as to its purpose to indicate a divorce.
- If the purpose is not clear, whether the husband had the intention to divorce his wife when pronouncing talak.
- Whether the person pronouncing talak is of sound mind.
- Whether the person pronouncing talak has attained puberty.
With regard to pronouncing three talaks, experts state that the Syariah Court adopts a very cautious stand when it examines the pronouncement of talak, and decides whether the pronouncement is valid, before registering the divorce.
Once satisfied that your divorce is valid, the court will register your divorce.
Upon the divorce, 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 the Same Couple or the Ex-Wife Remarry After Divorcing by Talak?
Conditions for remarriage after divorcing by either one or two talak
If you pronounce a talak sarih either once or twice to get a divorce, you still have the opportunity of remarriage to your ex-wife. These types of talak are called revocable divorce (raji’i) in contrast to talak bain or talak bid’a.
You must take note of two main conditions for remarriage if you divorce your wife with either one or two talak.
First, a wife that is newly-divorced is prohibited from remarrying for a period of 3 months, which represents 3 periods of purity or of an interval in the course of a lady’s 3 menstrual flows. This period is known as “iddah“.
Second, if you pronounced either one or two talak, you can engage in reconciliation (rujuk) with your ex-wife. This is a revocation of divorce and an application to register a rujuk must be made during the iddah period. An example of pronouncing rujuk could be:
“Although I have pronounced divorce, I still returned as usual.”
A revocation of divorce done in Singapore requires that you and your wife to personally appear before a Kadi (a religious official) within 7 days from the date of the revocation to provide details to the Kadi to register and apply for the revocation.
For this registration, the Kadi must be satisfied that you and your wife consent to the registration but if the Kadi is not satisfied, then the Kadi will refer the matter to the Syariah Court for it to make an appropriate decree or order.
If you fail to register the revocation within 7 days, the Kadi may still register it within 3 months from the date of the revocation (i.e. within the iddah period) but with the consent of the Syariah Court Registrar.
If there is no reconciliation between you and your ex-wife during the iddah period, then the divorce will be registered and finalised.
Conditions for remarriage after divorcing by three talaks
As mentioned above, if you had divorced your wife by pronouncing three talaks, the marriage is ended without the possibility of the same couple remarrying, except after the ex-wife had been lawfully remarried to another person and then divorced after consummation of that marriage to that third-party.
If you are considering a Muslim divorce, we recommend that you consult a Muslim divorce lawyer who can explain the concept of talak as well as the different types of talak and the consequences of pronouncing that talak, specific to your situation.
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