Atambua Religious Court Decision No. 1 of 2011

The parties were married on 5 May 1997 in Dili, East Timor, and had two children. They lived in Dili for two years and two months before moving to Ujung Pandang, South Sulawesi, for one year and five months, before the applicant moved to Atambua in search of employment in 2001, with the respondent and their first child joining him in 2002.

The applicant submitted that the marriage had been harmonious initially, but from January 2010, it had become quarrelsome. In February 2010, the applicant saw the respondent getting a lift on the back of another man's motorcycle. Around March 2010, the applicant saw the respondent with that other man at the parties' kiosk. Problems escalated on 12 November 2010, when the respondent left the parties' home with that other man and the parties' children, without the applicant's permission or blessing, the respondent having confessed to having been physically intimate with the man.

The applicant requested that the Court grant him permission to divorce the respondent, as well as custody of the parties' two children. The Court acceded to the applicant's request for divorce on the grounds of ongoing conflict, pursuant to art 19(f) of Government Regulation No. 9 of 1975, and art 116(f) of the Compilation of Islamic Laws. As the children were both below the age of 12 years (belum mumayyiz), pursuant to art 105 of the Compilation of Islamic Laws, the Court would usually be required to grant the respondent custody of the children, at least until they had reached the age of 12 years, after which they could decide with which parent they wanted to live. That said, the Court noted that the parties' daughter was already in the custody of the respondent and should remain there. With regards to the parties' son, who had been in the care of the applicant, while he was not year 12 years of age, as the respondent did not object to his remaining in the care of the applicant, the Court found it preferable for him to remain in the applicant's care.

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