Banda Aceh Shari'a Court Decision No. 132 of 2014: Irrevocable Divorce Granted

The parties were married on 18 September 2005. The plaintiff submitted, however, that only a few months after she and the defendant had married, she received a telephone call from a woman calling herself Ciah, claiming to have secretly married (nikah siri) the defendant and being five-months pregnant with the defendant's child. From thereon, this became a point of contention between the parties, despite the defendant never validating the claims made by this other woman.

The plaintiff alleged that other causes of tension between the parties included:

  1. the defendant often being angry with the plaintiff for no apparent reason;
  2. the defendant never contributing financially to the parties' domestic needs, thereby making the plaintiff assume he was spending his salary on his other wife;
  3. the plaintiff and defendant having been separated since the end of 2013;
  4. since the beginning of 2011, the defendant having not executed his spousal responsibilities vis-a-vis the plaintiff; and
  5. notably, frequent quarrelling between the parties causing the plaintiff to want to move to Bireuen for work, but not being granted permission to do so by the defendant, the dispute escalating to the point that the defendant hit the plaintiff, causing her to seek medical treatment for facial bruising.

The plaintiff also claimed that, from January 2011-present, the defendant had failed to provide her with financial and emotional support. The plaintiff quantified the financial support she believed the defendant owed her at IDR 2 million per month for 41 months (IDR 82 million). The plaintiff also submitted that the defendant had failed to provide her with a true dowry (mahar) at the time of their marriage. Rather, the defendant had borrowed five grams of pure gold from the plaintiff's parents, which he had returned after they were married, vowing to the plaintiff that he would one day give to her five grams of pure gold, or the cash equivalent thereof. The defendant, the plaintiff submitted, never upheld that promise.

The court acknowledged that the plaintiff had appropriately sought and obtained a letter of permission from her superior officer to divorce the defendant, and that the defendant's objection to that letter was irrelevant insofar as the court was unauthorised to intervene in the affairs of a government agency. The court also noted that the parties had sought to reconcile their differences via mediation, but to no avail.

The court acceded to the plaintiff's application for an irrevocable divorce (talak ba'in shughra), acknowledging that the purpose of marriage, as envisaged in art 1 of Law No. 1 of 1974 on Marriage, and surat Al-rum verse 21, being a peaceful, hopeful and loving (sakinah, mawaddah dan rahmah) homelife was no longer feasible. Moreover, that ongoing conflict between the parties was sufficient reason to grant a divorce, pursuant to art 39(2) of Law No. 1 of 1974 on Marriage, art 19(f) of Government Regulation No. 9 of 1975, and art 116(f) of the Compilation of Islamic Laws. The court, however, dismissed the plaintiff's claim for back-payment maintenance costs (IDR 82 million), noting that the plaintiff, like the defendant, worked as a civil servant, who would had to have first obtained the defendant's permission to work. The court noted that if one of the plaintiff's reasons for wanting to divorce the defendant was due to a lack of financial support, to then demand money from the defendant would contradict her claim.

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