matrimonial law

Matrimonial law of Singapore

The Matrimonial Law in Singapore is governed by two acts, the Muslim Marriages act (1966) which falls under the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA) whereas the other is under the Women Charter.

Muslim marriages are solemnised and administered by the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) whereas the Civil Registry (ROM) governs the Women's Charter

Muslim marriages

Under the law, a Muslim can marry at the age of puberty and whereupon the bride is a single unmarried woman (commonly known as a Virgin Bride or 'Anak Dara') the Wali must grant consent to the marriage.

The Wali in this case will be the natural Father, Natural Blood Brother (legitimate), Paternal Grandfather, Uncle (Brother of the Father) and whereupon a woman is a child out of wedlock, the solemn declaration of the natural Mother must be made in the Name of Allah, and the like if the father is no longer known to exist, or have gone away and the next of kin is not known.

In this case, a Wali Hakim or Wali Raja is called upon and the 'Wali' or next of kin will be the Administrator of the Region, State or the like, thus the naming of Hakim (judge) or Raja (King/Sultan in the ancient days). The Kadi (Khadhi) can also cite for which where upon the parties concerned are away by 2 marhalah (approximately 2 days by walking distance ,about 90 km), the terms are been met by using Allah as the Wali Mukminin. This strict conditions must be met for the solemnisation of the Marriage called the Nikah.

No Wali is needed if the Bride is a Muslim Convert and is the only convert in the family.

If the father is still alive but unknown whereabouts in Singapore, the Registry will take out a petition notice in the local papers for him to be summoned to the Muslim Court for the Marriage to be approved. This takes within 30 days.

Rules of the Nikah are the existeance of the bride, groom, 2 Male Muslim Witnesses or 4 Female Muslim Witnesses (independent of the family), The existance of the Wali, Kadi and Mahar or Mas Kawin in the region. The Dowry is NOT MANDATORY as it's a gift to the brides' family to cater for the wedding expenses. The Mahar,(currently set at least S$200) is the equivalent of the wife's expenses to be given for the upbringing as it's part of the Taklik or terms of the agreement.Think of it as the alimony.

During the registration, the parties must be in attendance (except for the witnesses) to sign the affidavit for the application at the ROMM. The bridegroom will sign the agreement for petition and application to wed and book the solemnisation date.If the interviewing Kadi is not satisfied of the needs of Islamic Knowledge, he can require them to take additional classes prior to allowing them to marry.

Couples should be of the age of 21 but the age of 16 is allowed with consent of the parents present. Marriage of Bride under 16 require special licensing.

The couple must by them attend the Marriage Counselling Course by an approved provider. The certificate issued is only valid for 3 years.

A Decree Nisi Absolute or Divorce certificate is required for the woman if she has existing marriage prior and must lapse for 90 days before the wedding.

If the Groom has existing living wife, normally a requirement is the approval for Polygamy is needed to ensure the husband can afford the wives.

Upon satisfying all conditions, the Muslim Marriage will take place which consists of the Khutbah or Sermon of Nikah, the Akad or Agreement of both Parties and the thanksgiving.

The Khutbah is basically the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAW (PBUH) stating that his sunnah is of three, of Brushing the Teeth to ensure good hygiene, to wear attar or perfume so you don't stink (something like that reasoning) and of Nikah for he wants to see many his followers upon the day of Judgement.

During the Akad, the Kadi will ask the Bride of the consent to the marriage and ask for the signature to be on the certificate and carry on with the agreement in the presence of the witnesses.He will require the Wali to ask him to marry his daughter(or ward) off on his behalf as by law, he is required to solemnise the marriage. The Kadi will do a handshake saying that "I be wed thee, Of (the groom name) to (the bride name) with the Mahr or Mas kahwin of (the amount) and in the handshake, he must say he agree to take the bride in wed with the said mahar , or in short, I do for super nervous grooms.

After which , the Groom will then say aloud the Taqlik or defaulting terms of the marriage for which it can be dissolved by the wife complaining to the Syariah court, which are of Hurting her (or her properties), not giving her nafkah (means of sustainability) by him or the next of kin for 6 months (thus the amount of the Mahar) and leaving her for more than 6 months and in which the court finds true will decree that the marriage is dissolved by One Talak.The Woman is now divorced totally after 90days of the talak nikah.

If there is no Taklik, then there is no defaulting terms to the marriage. It's just like a pre-nuptial agreement.

Civil marriages

Civil marriages are simpler. The two parties come to the Registry of Marriage (just next door off Muslim Marriages Registry) and register for a date.

They will then be put to a petition for any objections for 30 days (21 days minimum) and to wed before 3 months.

They will then bring their approval to the Licensed Solemniser which can be a Religious Leader (order of the church, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, Sikh), Judge, Justice of Peace, grassroots leaders. However, the Jehovah Witness is not allowed as it's been outlawed in Singapore.

Note: A Malay in Singapore can declare that they are NON-MUSLIM to marry in a civil manner. This is allowed by the oath of Religious Order. Applies to Indonesians and the like.

Bigamy or polygamy is not allowed in civil marriages.

Inter-faith marriages

Cross marriage of a Muslim man to another NON-MUSLIM is not allowed. The non-Muslim bride must go for conversion course.Rigorous interviews are made to the Groom to ensure that he is fit to guide the new convert as a wife and as a fellow Muslimah. Non-Muslim groom marriages are shunned upon but allowed after 1 year of proper conversion courses.

There is no restriction on interfaith marriages in Singapore apart from Muslim Marriages. Certain rules may apply for Muslim and Jewish marriage.

Foreigners, permanent residents and mixed marriages

Foreigners marrying in Singapore require approval from Ministry of Manpower and failure of which, will be deported and permanently banned from entering Singapore and be on the Fugitive List with AFIS details.

Same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriages are not allowed in Singapore and determined by the National Registration Act of which the gender the person is born.

Should the sex be changed at later stages, if the new sex is different from the partner, it is allowed by petition of court for Civil Marriages.

Muslim Marriages do not allow same-sex marriages regardless of sex change done. This is waived if the person is both with both genital organs (aka hermaphrodite or pseudohermaphroditism) and makes a change.

Transexuals alike are still classed as what they are born with.

Marriage among Armed Forces

So far, there is no recollection under the General Orders of Mindef (rules GOM 404) or under Chapter 294 of the enlistment act that an Officer may not marry an enlisted, Specialist or warranted personnel (WOSE)

However, Mindef rules do state that any marriages must get the go ahead from the CO or G3 army. Talk to the Chief Clerk (Branch Administration Officer / Executive) for the actual latest rule.

Marriage outside the forces (to civilians) are also allowed and actually you can claim benefits like time off and gratuity payments for that. Seek legal advise.

As accordance to the General Orders, there is no problem of Military staff marrying a Civilian or Government Employee but there are some extra rules pertaining Official Secrets Act that discourages the marriage to foreign nationals, especially who are foreign government servants, Civilian, Diplomatic or Military alike.

DSTA or Military Agencies have different set of rules (as accordance to the NUSAF Orders). NUSAF have different additional terms imposed too.

Information to public are restricted classification.


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