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:


Personal finance author and trainer

    57 replies to "Divorce Procedure in Malaysia Law"

    • Mich


      I got married in malaysia way back 2009 I’m from Phil he is not malay either just working there before, it was a muslim wedding.. We both live abroad in diff country now but I want to file a divorce over there since we been living separately for quiet long now and I have to deal w my son a lot, how would I do it or will it cost so much?




      I married 6 yrs got 1 kid 6 yrs, i want file single petition, can i get my child full custody?

    • Ambigai Shanmugam

      I hv a question to ask . What if i hv done the marriage tribunal counselling in 2008 n i got the letter frm JPN.
      But i hv no any contact with my ex husband for pass 12 yrs alrdy..do i still need to apply for marriage tribunal before my divorce.

    • Karm

      hi if i get a joint petition divorce (both non-muslims) im a foreigner under spouse visa married to malaysian for five years and 1 child together. how long can i wait to get remarried and must i leave the country right away or can i stay until the visa ends

    • Mei Ong

      during 2006, my husband filed a divorce and it was not a mutual agreement . He has an affair and decided to divorce. We both hired our lawyers and we went for court. I requested to have half of the matrimonial house and my ex disagree.d. We went to court a few times and finally judge made a decision which was i deserved to have half of the matrimonial house. but my ex appealed to pay this money for 12 months installment. We both signed a letter drafted by the Ex lawyer stated upon finish paying these 12 months installment, then only i agreed to divorce. Obviously 12 months passed and now is 2020, nobody raised up anything about signing the divorce letter. My lawyer also retired and my ex also disappeared and cant be connected. In this case, can u advised me what to do? Thanks

      • K.Sathiya Devi

        what happen to the petition that has been filed by both of you? Has your husband finished paying the 1/2 share of the pty? Check in Court on the status of your previous petition filed. The Judge might have given you divorce but the decree nisi to be absolute after 12 months. Chck with court where you filed the petition on the outcome of the hearing of the divorce petition.

    • Jason Lim

      Rom last month. Now that she wanna focus on her career more and I feel neglect. We talk things out and things doesn’t end well. The love is no longer there. So, can we file divorce or anyway to officially end our relationship?

    • Catherine cy

      Hi, I had married 5 years with a new born baby. In this 1 year, I caught my husband betrayal me and in-honesty and open in our relationship. I had gave him a chance and try to build back our relationship but it failed and happens again recently. I am feeling hopeless and would like to proceed for divorce.
      Normally how many of alimony that we would like to looking for children?

    • Eunice

      Can i know is there any limitation for the period to claim back the maintenance for my children and the money he owed my family that had stated in the court order?


      • Aidie

        None. Consult free legal advice from Legal Aid Bureau.

    • Punitha

      Hi, I am married for 8 years. I have 2 daughter’s aged 7 n 5. I m not in good terms with my husband. We always fight as I don’t get along with him. Ours was an arranged marriage. I struggled to make my marriage work but to no avail. I’m not happy with him. We don’t talk to each other. I worry this will effect the children as we r talking via the children. He doesn’t earn good. I bought a house under his name n mine. A car under his name. I don’t know if I divorce him he will return my money or pay for my kids expenses. I feel so restless. Please advice.

    • Guest

      Hi i would like to ask information about
      i married 2013 dec and apply divorced on 2018 – may join partitioon both of us was agrred to divorce and i wish to remarry again on oct -2018 , after hearing court on aug mid 2018 is it possible i can remarry again ?

      • Aidie

        Can. Irretrievably breakdown. But more important question is why type of divorce proceeding suits your situation. If you can get your wife to agree with the divorce, fine. Discuss about the terms of divorce like maintenance, children custody etc. Process is cheaper and faster. But if she disagrees, then you can still file single petition. Expect a “fight in court” with her. This proceeding is tedious, slower and more expensive.

      • Aidie

        You may hv remarried now. Nevertheless i would still give you my reply for the benefit of future readers. Once decree is given by court, you need to wait for another 3 months for the decree to be absolute, giving a last chance to the spouses to reconcile. After 3 months lapse, you are single and ready to mingle.

    • Manoj

      Hi, would like to get your kind assistance, im registered to a divorcee on 15 march 2018,but have not tied the knot as per our custom.We were not eve n staying together until now which is 1 year 4 months.Not even a single day.I ‘m facing mental tortured as i want to move on my life.What is the procedure likely n would it be status of divorce or cancelation of marriage registration.
      Thank you

    • Aagii

      Hi I am foreigner.I registered with my husband in my country.After that I registered in Malaysia.Now I want to cancel this marriage in Malaysia because I am in the kl now.Can I cancel my marriege in Malaysia without go back my country first. if possible what procedure shall I do first? Actually we doesn’t have any money problem and children problem.So Is there any fast process without any court and lawyer

    • Unknown

      I married since 2008. We dont have any child, both working, problem is on sat n sun
      When visit my parent 100% sure she will story become big fight. Alway very2 bad about my parent to me but 180degree if visit her home i must alway give n take. My passion almost 10year going explode soon. At home sweep, mop and cooking for 2 of us will become big fight. I keep quite only she will created more story related my fly in , mentaly i not free alway she is right. Can i get divorce from her.

    • Yen Ling

      ROM less than 3 months can break up, consider invalid or divorce

    • Timothy Daniel Kiew

      Hello sir, I’m Timothy(malaysian) I married to a Filipino women since 2012 and I have a daughter. She went back to Manila with my daughter since 2015 and she don’t want to come back Malaysia. I work as Air Asia ground handling staff at klia2. My working period is 12 hours and I have been accuse for cheating by my wife. I found out my wife have an affair with a Filipino men in Manila for 2 years. I decide to devorce. Of course she agree but where can I devorce her? Philippines or Malaysia? We registered the marriage in Sarawak Malaysia. She took away all of my certificate to prevent me from searching for jobs. I have been kicked out from air asia now without my certificate, is hard for me to find job.

    • Sofiah

      Hello sir, I’m Sofiah (Malaysian) and married with stupid Filipino ever I met. I been in marriage for 3 years, marry in phillipines and registered our marriage in malaysian embassy of philipine. He emotionally and physical abuse me. And i want to be divorce. But he refuse. Is it I still has possibility to be divorce

      • Aidie

        Yes. Your lawyer will file a single or unilateral petition. Simply means, the action is brought by a party that is you. You may seek legal advice from the legal aid bureau which is free of charge.

    • Joshua

      Sir..i wld like to knw wht chances do i have if my wife is filing fr a divrce ..i hv 2kids 12 n 13yr…im jobless but me my wife agreed tht u dont hv to work n i will takecare of the kids..i tkcre tkecre the kids since year 2006 till now..it 11yr…my wife is workig in saudi as a nurse…n now she will file a divorce n full cstody of my children..is tht possible?since i the one who wre stressfully taking care of my children since they wre a todler…it is not fair for me..l hv lost all the jobs i have before since 2006 till now…my wife is the person who provide all the financial…..seems like she is insisting to divrce so that she could marry other….my children told me that they wont stay with the mother if she remarried others…all i want to know how malaysia legal system works in the cases of mine?please help n advice…tq

      • KCLau

        I can’t provide you any legal advice since I am not qualified to do so. It is best you consult a divorce lawyer for more info. Look for Low Partners.

    • Stay Calm

      If a legally bankcrupt husband divorcing, would the wife still be receiving alimony etc?
      Can the husband just ignore to provide any monthly payment for the wife and kids by using the reason that he is a bankcrupt?
      Advise appreciated.

    • jasvinder sahni

      I am an Indian man and wish to marry a Malaysian lady who is separated from her husband four years ago. . How much the expenses will be for annulment case or lawyer charges to get her annulment . How much time it can take maximum

    • Sun sun

      I have been divorced and the agreement was to share maintenance and custody of my son.
      For past months I received RM500 monthly as half of the child’s monthly expenses (assuming total expenses is RM1,000), but recent two months my ex husband asked to view the expenses receipts. I provided receipts of child care, school fee and meals of which are tagged to my son’s name amounted to Rm750-800 (I am sure a child’s monthly expenses are more than that, but he does not accept any receipt that doesn’t not state with my son’s name). Based the recent two months receipts, he calculated the average exp of all months before and the amount that he paid and made a deduction of rebate that he thinks he is entitled to (as he claimed he has paid extra for earlier months). Therefore he stopped paying me since last month until he thinks the extra he paid earlier is fully deducted. He has never asked for receipt in earlier months and paid the RM500 so I did not keep receipts of such too. Can you advise if this is right in the procedure and whether I can file a case for not receiving child’s payment? My concern is that if he suka suka calculate the average value and self rebate without my consent, then he can pay at his own will in the future, while I am still bearing my child’s expenses on my end (all fixed day care, school fee and school meals expenses are paid by myself since the beginning)

      • KCLau

        I don’t have the qualification and expertise to advise you on this matter. Please consult your lawyer for legal advice.

    • CHO MEE


      • Aidie

        You need to refer your case to Syariah Court which have absolute jurisdiction over muslim marriage.

    • ray goh

      Hi, just need to know whether is there an auto divorce after living apart for 7 yrs. I’ve won sole custody on 2012 of all my 3 children and at that time i did not apply for divorce as it was done in an emergency state . Thank you

      • E H Ting

        No, there is no “auto” divorce in Malaysia. All non-Muslim divorces in Malaysia must be decreed by the High Court which means you must file a divorce petition with the High Court nearest to where you are or where the marriage took place in Malaysia. If you download a copy of the “Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 and the related rules, it will not be too difficult to file a joint petition yourself if both parties agree. Only area you need some guidance (from a practising lawyer or even their staff) is the heading of the document. The rest you can just copy from the Rules. Unilateral petition is more complicated.

        • KCLau

          Hi E H, thanks for answering this since I really don’t know about these legal issues.

    • Thiaga

      Dear KCLau,

      I divorced twice and married for the 3rd time lately.
      I was paying alimony for the 1st Ex(Have 1 kid – 11 yrs old) and to 2nd Ex(no kids) as well.
      Almost 8 months ago, my income went down. Due to lack of income, i had to cut some of my expenses. One of them is alimony to my 2nd Ex as she has no Kid and she is a professional worker.
      I still pay for 1st Ex as i need to support my son no matter what especially for his education. Now after 7 months which is a months ago, i received Garneeshee order from lawyer appointed by 2nd Ex Lawyer, All my bank accounts has been frozen since then, i mean until now. I’m not able to withdaraw my income and i could not able to pay my 1st Ex for son’s education, even i cant any of my Car/House loan and other stuff due to this. The court hearing is on 7th Sep 2017 and the account will be block till then, not sure how long more. Her(2nd Ex wife) action actually causes more damages including payment for my son education and to my parents. Is it possible for me to appeal at court on 7th not to pay her any as she is working, i prefer pay to my 1st Ex as she is raising my son. Paying 2nd Ex monthly will burden further and im married now and need to look after my family. Kindly advise

      • Aravin

        Mr thiaga < may i ask ou this …were you considered single after the divorce when you apply for anoher marriage

    • christine

      Hello! This question is for my dad, who is a Malaysian. He is married to my mom (a Malaysian as well) in 1972 but they separated more than 20 years ago. ie. living in separate households. They never underwent any LEGAL divorce or separation proceedings. Is there a statute about the number of years of being separated? Are they still ‘legally’ married? I’m asking because he has another women and they adopted a child together in 1999.


      • Aidie

        No limitation period. Get your dad to agree with your mum for divorce by mutual consent. Cheaper and faster.

    • YYDL

      I’m married a Nigerian on 2006 and I’ve lost contact with him since 2009. I was told that I must engage a lawyer for my divorce but the fee is very high. Please advise how do I go about this?

    • Lee Kim Ying

      Hi I would like to engage a lawyer that I can file for divorce. Because of Third Party interferance I would like closure to end my marriage. May I know who can I contact further about this. Thank you

    • Nathan

      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.

    • Amy

      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.

    • Dira

      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

        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.

    • Joan

      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.

    • francis

      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?

    • jin

      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.

    • Mia

      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

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

    • Munik

      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.

    • esther poon

      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

        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.

    • Angel Chio

      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…

    • Sridharan Shanmugam

      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 .

    • Guna Mohan

      Dear Sir,

      THe article was very informative and clear on Divorce matters.

      If I have further quarry how should I go about it



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