Divorce Procedure in Malaysia Law

A very common misconception about divorce is that a lot of couples think that they would have to be living separately for more than three years before they can file for divorce. The truth is if both parties agree to divorce, then you don’t need to be living separately.

Andy Low from Low & Partners talked about the money matters in divorce cases in Malaysia, during the webinar I hosted with Evanna Phoon. Here is what he said:

I have clients that stay together during the divorce proceedings and still stay together after divorce proceedings just for the sake of the kids. So, that is possible. Separation for two years is only one of the reasons to file for divorce. It doesn’t mean that you have to live separately in order to qualify yourself for a divorce proceeding. This is a very common misconception.

Second misconception is that they thought they will be automatically divorced if they have lived separately for more than 2 years. This is also incorrect because they would still need to file an application before they are divorced. There’s no such thing as “automatically divorced,” you have to apply for it.

Now, another misconception is that application for divorce cannot be made within 2 years of the marriage when, in fact, there are exceptions available. Sometimes parties can opt for annulment if they are qualified or eligible for annulment. There is no “not more than 2 years of marriage” limitation for annulment.

I want to touch a bit on: “The Brief and the General Procedure of the Joint Petition Divorce” before we talk about the monetary part because I want to establish that going for a joint petition divorce it is much easier. When you go for a unilateral divorce, which is a single petition, it will take more time.

Generally, if both parties agree, then you need to engage with a lawyer. We discuss the settlement with your spouse, and then you sign the divorce petition, and you wait for the hearing date, and you attend to the court, and get a certificate. While for unilateral divorce proceedings, you need to consult a lawyer also, and you may need to also apply to the JPN for a tribunal.

The objective of the tribunal is to actually provide a platform for the parties to reconcile. For example, if the husband would like to file for divorce, then the husband needs to actually submit an application to the JPN and attend the tribunal. It is actually the intention of the government to allow a chance to reconcile the parties before they have really decided to go ahead with the divorce proceeding.

In doing the so called tribunal sessions, the government officers, JPN officers will try to understand the reasons behind the break-up of the marriage or will try to ask you questions like why you want to live separately, and in all those things. The ultimate objective will be to reconcile the parties. However, if you insist on filing for a divorce after the JPN session, you can enclose the tribunal’s letter and file the application to the court, which is the third step.

Afterwards, the procedure will be very different depending on the spouse’s subsequent actions. So, we cannot determine the general time involved because we do not know whether or not your case will be contested by your spouse.

Now, what are the usual disputes that arise from a marriage?

For Premium Webinar Members, you can watch the full session here:

About The Author


personal finance author and trainer


  • Guna Mohan

    Reply Reply March 4, 2014

    Dear Sir,

    THe article was very informative and clear on Divorce matters.

    If I have further quarry how should I go about it



  • Sridharan Shanmugam

    Reply Reply March 10, 2014

    I had applied to JPN Tribunal for my divource, I know that i cannot stay to gether anymore since my wife had a affair and left home . My children’s are with me. In this case what will my result will be , for sure we cannot reconcile.Do the JPN will provide a good recommandation . i cannot affort to angaged a Lawyer .

  • Angel Chio

    Reply Reply March 9, 2015

    My husband already left home 2 years above. My child are with me. What should I do? I want divorce, but I cannot affort to angaged a Lawyer. I just a account clerk with RM3k monthly salary at selayang. He never pay us anything…

  • esther poon

    Reply Reply March 21, 2016

    hi i already attend to court divorce at 2006,b my lawyer didnt sent the document to jpn ,so at jpn i not yet divorce,then my lawyer is pass away,all legal document has past to another firm;b they said couldnt found my document,n is too long time n i already lost the copy,dont know case no,please help to get divorce cert

    • KCLau

      Reply Reply March 21, 2016

      Hi Esther, sorry to hear that. But I couldn’t help you here with any legal advice. You will need to engage an experienced divorce lawyer to expedite the matter.

  • Munik

    Reply Reply May 5, 2016

    Dear Sir,

    After 6 years of marriage, my husband has admitted that he is a gay and would not want to live a normal life with me but instead to chose his own partner.
    He has agreed to a joint petition divorce but would not want to take up any costs incurred to the process. I would like to know how much it would cost me as I would bear them on my own and how long will it take to get the calling date from the court.

    Please advise.

  • Mia

    Reply Reply June 19, 2016

    I’m a filipina and married to a Malaysian Muslim. My birth certificate has to be corrected in the Philippines so i went back and settle it. While I’m gone my husband remarried in Thailand to another girl. Can u pls help me what should i do and my rights as a first wife.

    • KCLau

      Reply Reply June 20, 2016

      Hi Mia, sorry that I have no legal background and can’t help you in this matter.

  • jin

    Reply Reply June 29, 2016

    What about a couple who lives in the same house but in separate rooms? Is this considered “live apart”? One of them refuses to sign a joint petition.

  • francis

    Reply Reply July 8, 2016

    What is meant by ‘primary caregiver’? I take care of my 7-year old son from 6.30am up bedtime. Am I am the primary caregiver?

  • Joan

    Reply Reply July 19, 2016

    I am married for one year and my husband keep hitting me . Can i file for divorce application since i only marry for one year.

  • Dira

    Reply Reply September 26, 2016

    Dear Sir,

    If i apply for divorce, the children will goes under who mother or father. the children is 2 year. Is the mother take the children under her custody?

    • Andrian

      Reply Reply November 30, 2016

      Hi Dira, in a joint petition, both parties can mutually agree to propose any arrangement to the children.
      In a single petition, either party can make application for the custodianship. The court will decide the custodianship after considering all factors including: 1) The welfare of the children 2) The wishes of the parents 3) The wishes of the child if the child is eligible to express an independent opinion.
      There is a rebuttable presumption that the custodianship of a child below 7 years belongs to the mother.

  • Amy

    Reply Reply January 26, 2017

    May I know if my husband and I would like to have a 2 years separation before divorce as we wanted to see within 2 years whether we can repair our relationship if not then we divorce after that 2 years.

  • Nathan

    Reply Reply February 10, 2017

    I’m malaysian married an indian girl now we both planned to get divorce..my concern is that I want my both sons with me as they born in malaysia..but my wife not agreed..what should I do to get custody of my children.my wife only on long term spouse sponser visa.

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