Kendari Religious Court Decision No. 344 of 2010: Irrevocable Divorce Granted

The parties were married on 2 December 1971 and had three children. The plaintiff submitted that the parties had remained happily married for 29 years until 1998, when it became apparent that the defendant had married three other women, unbeknownst to the plaintiff. In 2000, when the defendant returned home to the plaintiff, the plaintiff provided the defendant with an ultimatum: remain with his new wife or return to the plaintiff. The defendant informed the plaintiff that he had no intention of divorcing his other wife, and that if the plaintiff wished to divorce the defendant, he would not object. For the next 10 years, the defendant had failed to provide the plaintiff or their children with any financial support, which, the plaintiff submitted, contravened art 34(1) of Law No. 1 of 1974 on Marriage, as well as art 80(2) of the Compilation of Islamic Laws. Accordingly, the plaintiff sought from the defendant financial maintenance back payments for the past 10 years totalling IDR 180 million.

The plaintiff submitted that, on 18 October 2010, three persons attended the plaintiff's home to inform the plaintiff that the defendant intended to return to the home to renovate and reside on the second storey. Despite the parties' eldest child objecting to the defendant's return, the defendant insisted he was entitled to return to the home as he had built it himself, and that, furthermore, he was entitled to evict everyone living in it if he so chose. As the parties' marriage was no longer 'joyful and enduring', as envisaged by art 1 of Law No. 1 of 1974 on Marriage, the plaintiff sought a judicial divorce. She also sought to obtain her share of the parties' joint assets, namely the property in question.

The defendant disputed several of the plaintiff's submissions, namely that the defendant had married three other women, unbeknownst to the plaintiff. Rather, the defendant asserted that the plaintiff had provided him with money to annul his marriage to his second wife, that she had frequently invited the defendant to Gorontalo, that the parties had jointly applied for bank credit to increase the capital of their kiosk business, that the plaintiff and other persons had sought the defendant's permission to construct a mosque in front of the home, and that the parties' eldest child and her husband had visited the defendant and his second wife. The defendant conceded he had married for a third time, but only after he divorced his second wife, and that the third marriage only lasted a little under a year. The defendant also maintained that the plaintiff had never made any requests to him for money. Moreover, in 2000, his pension was a mere IDR 664,000 per month, while the plaintiff had ample funds from the parties' kiosk business, as well as from renting out several rooms in the parties' home to other persons.

With regard to the plaintiff being visited by three persons, the defendant maintained they had only done so to inform the plaintiff that the defendant wished to repair the parties' marriage. The defendant also argued that the plaintiff's assertion regarding art 1 of Law No. 1 of 1974 on Marriage and the state of the parties' marriage was unfortunate given it did not consider the parties' ages, nor the consequences of divorce. Finally, the defendant requested that the court disregard the plaintiff's claims to the parties' property.

The court acknowledged witness evidence, provided pursuant to art 22(2) of Government Regulation No. 9 of 1975, that the parties had been separated since 2000, and that the defendant had only visited the parties' property in 2005 and 2009 when two of the parties' children married. Therefore, pursuant to art 39(2) of Law No. 1 of 1974 on Marriage, as well as art 19(f) of Government Regulation No. 9 of 1975, and art 116(f) of the Compilation of Islamic Laws, the court granted the plaintiff an irrevocable divorce (talak satu ba'in sughra) on the grounds of ongoing conflict. The court, however, dismissed the plaintiff's claim for financial maintenance back payments, acknowledging the defendant's appeal to the small amount his pension afforded him on a monthly basis. Pursuant to art 35(1) of Law No. 1 of 1974 on Marriage, it declared the property a joint asset of the parties and ordered a 50/50 split. The court also ordered the plaintiff to pay costs (IDR 1,701,000).

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