Kendari Religious Court Decision No. 154 of 2014: Irrevocable Divorce Application Dismissed Due to Witness Information

The parties were married on 13 May 2006 and had one child. After marrying, the parties lived with the plaintiff's parents for several weeks, before returning to Bali, where the defendant was stationed for work, and where the plaintiff was completing her medical degree at Universitas Mahassaraswati in Denpasar. While in Bali, however, the parties did not live together: the defendant lived in a rental property in Jembrana, while the plaintiff lived in a boarding house (rumah kost) in Denpasar. On one occasion, when the plaintiff was late to collect the defendant from a bus terminal, the defendant struck her in the head. While she was wearing a helmet at the time, the plaintiff still decided not to reprimand the defendant. The parties maintained these living arrangements until the plaintiff completed her studies in 2007, when the plaintiff then moved into the defendant's rental property in Jembrana.

While living together, the defendant's fondness for cockfighting became a source of tension between the parties. When angry, the defendant would often throw whatever objects happened to be in front of him, and, on one occasion, threw an empty gallon container at the plaintiff while she was pregnant. The plaintiff claimed she then cried and went to her room, while the defendant allegedly shouted 'go home to your parents' ('pulang saja ke orang tuamu'). The plaintiff later moved to the defendant's parents' home in Jember, East Java, while the defendant remained in Jembrana. The parties occasionally argued on the telephone, as a result of the plaintiff frequently hearing that the defendant was fraternising with another woman.

Around the fasting period in 2008, when the plaintiff was seven-eight months pregnant, the plaintiff heard from the neighbour and landlord of the defendant's rental property that a woman had visited the defendant from 8pm-3am. Upon receiving this information, the plaintiff became convinced that the defendant was having an extra-marital affair. When the parties spoke again on the telephone, the defendant occasionally uttered profanities that left the plaintiff feeling upset and in tears.

As the plaintiff was entering her ninth month of the pregnancy, the defendant visited her at his parents' home. One evening the plaintiff inquired with the defendant as to whether or not he had had an extra-marital affair. In response, the defendant threw an ashtray, causing the plaintiff to run into her room and lock the door out of fear. The defendant chased her, and, attempting to enter the room, proceeded to cause damage to the door handle. Concerned that the neighbours might overhear the commotion, the plainitff opened the door to her room, only for the defendant to start causing damage to a cupboard door with his fists. When the plaintiff retired to bed, the defendant then jumped up on the plaintiff's bed, almost landing on the plaintiff's pregnant stomach. After the defendant's mother intervened, the defendant sat down calmly and confessed to having had an extra-marital affair. The defendant acknowledged he was prepared for the plaintiff to divorce him, but maintained that the child was his and would go with him.

The next day the defendant apologised to the plaintiff for his wrongdoing, and the plaintiff spoke with the woman with whom the defendant had had the extra-marital affair. The woman confirmed the information provided to the plaintiff by the landlord. The next day the plaintiff experienced some pregnancy-related bleeding and was brought to Bina Sehat Hospital. The hospital noted that, as the plaintiff had experienced some psychological stress, the pregnancy would be expedited.

In 2009, after the child was born, it lived in Jember with the defendant, per the defendant's wishes. While the plaintiff was working in Kendari for two years as a civil servant, the defendant equivocated as to when he would bring the child to visit the plaintiff in Kendari. As a result, the plaintiff often visited her child in Jember. During her visits to Jember, the plaintiff became aware from things the child would say that the defendant was not showing the child any affection, and that the child was being deprived of its mother's love, something, the plaintiff told the court, pivotal to any child's development. When the plaintiff was about to return to Kendari, the child would cry while hugging the plaintiff and calling 'Mama... Mama... Mama...'.

The plaintiff had also provided the defendant with significant financial support to assist him in establishing a catfish business. During one of her visits to Jember, several months after a catfish harvest, the defendant's mother informed the plaintiff that the defendant had visited a shaman (dukun) to ensure that the plaintiff was not happy in Kendari. When the plaintiff inquired with the defendant about this, in front of the defendant's mother, the defendant punched the plaintiff in the face several times, felling the plaintiff in the corner of her room.

After deliberately limiting her communication with the defendant, the plaintiff re-established contact in November 2012.The defendant, however, only used the opportunity to order the plaintiff to arrange the parties' divorce. The parties did not communicate at all in 2013, after the defendant requested that the plaintiff not disturb him. From the beginning of 2010, the defendant had not provided the plaintiff with any financial support, and the parties had not been physically intimate since August 2012. Pursuant to arts 39, 42 and 44 of Law No. 1 of 1974 on Marriage, as well as art 19 of Government Regulation No. 9 of 1975, and art 56 of the Compilation of Islamic Laws, the plaintiff sought a judicial divorce and custody of the parties' child.

Despite acknowledging that court-sanctioned mediation had been unsuccessful in reconciling the parties' differences, the court dismissed the plaintiff's application. The court acknowledged that the defendant had disputed and repudiated the plaintiff's submissions, but more significantly, it stressed that it was dismissing the application on the grounds that the two witnesses produced by the plaintiff had never seen the parties quarrel, did not know the nature of the parties' domestic situation, and the information they had provided to the court was, therefore, immaterial. On the same grounds, it dismissed the plaintiff's application for custody of the parties' child.

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