Malang Religious Court Decision No. 915 of 2015: Inheritance Application Made By Adopted Child

A plot of land (a rice field) had been bequeathed to two brothers, Abdul Halim and Fatchul Isya'i. When the two brothers passed away, the land became the property of Abdul Halim's children (the first and second defendants), who gave Fatchul Isya'i's adopted son (the plaintiff) a portion of the land. The plaintiff submitted that, as he was also a Muslim, he was therefore entitled to half the plot of land, in accordance with provisions of Islamic law. The plaintiff also submitted that, assuming the court acceded to his request, he was entitled to IDR 10 million per day for every day the defendants failed to transfer to him control of half the plot of land.

The majority of the court referred to the definition of an adopted child (anak angkat) in art 171(h) of the Compilation of Islamic Laws, which requires parenting responsibilities to be transferred from the child's biological parents to its adoptive parents, pursuant to a court decision. As the plaintiff had only been adopted by his adoptive parents pursuant to local custom (adat), however, the majority found that he did not have the required legal standing. Second, the plaintiff had failed to state clearly on what grounds he was suing the defendants. Third, if the plaintiff sought to establish that he was an adopted child, and that he was entitled to certain inheritance, these two applications would need to be made separately.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Ahmad Zaenal Fanani found the defendants' acknowledgment that the plaintiff was the adoptive child of Fatchul Isya'i to be a relevant consideration. Moreover, that according to Islamic inheritance law and the concept of wasiat wajibah, adopted children, pursuant to art 209(2) of the Compilation of Islamic Laws, and Indonesian Supreme Court Jurisprudence 312K/AG/2008, were entitled to a maximum of one-third of the estate of a deceased adoptive parent.

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